August is the time to stockpile the garden goodies
So what needs to be wrapped up in August?
This is the time to take advantage of the plentiful supply of fruit available at farm markets, as well as bargains in the supermarket, and then to cram as much of it as possible into the freezer.
Peaches, pears, plums, apricots and berries taste so good pulled from the freezer on a cold winter day, but I don’t have as much freezer space as I would like. I had a huge harvest of green beans in July, as well as a good broccoli crop, and now the tomatoes are clamoring for space.
It’s almost enough to get me back to canning again. But not quite.
If temperatures go above 90 this month after all, the ripening peppers will not appreciate it. It helps the afternoon heat to drape some shade cloth over them while the afternoon sun is fierce. This also keeps cabbage from rotting.
If at all possible, keep up with weeds. This is the time their seeds are forming and setting up for next year’s crop, so try to literally nip them in the bud.
The weediest spot for me is the asparagus bed. The combination of the tall, feathery stalks and the rather dilapidated fence makes it difficult to reach the fast-growing pigweed, purslane and spotted spurge. People have told me to use Round-up or salt, but I don’t want to risk losing my favorite vegetable crop.
Most of the tomatoes will be fully ripened by the end of the month, but if you have some stragglers, pick off late blossoms to hasten ripening of the still-green fruit.
Ormnamental grasses soon will be producing their feathery flower heads, having reached full maturity. These plumes will last all winter unless you cut back your grasses. If you do cut them, be sure to save the plumes to add to flower arrangements in the house.
Many annuals will bloom well into October if the fall is mild. Pinching back impatiens will encourage them to keep producing new buds as long as they are well watered.
A few infestations may appear on trees in August. Bagworms may be found on evergreens such as arbor vitae, spruce and juniper, in twiggy bags hanging from the branches. Pull these down and burn them.
Fall webworms construct tents on branch tips and these too need to be removed. If you open the tents with a stick, the birds will take care of the caterpillars inside.
This is also prime time for powdery mildew to show up on lilacs, azaleas and other shrubs and perennials. The grayish-white coating on leaves will not harm mature plants, although it is unsightly. Young shrubs can be sprayed with garden sulfur as a preventative.
August is not too late for a second planting of turnips, spinach, Swiss chard and salad fixings such as lettuce and radishes. Potatoes are probably ready for harvest, and garlic can be dug as soon as the leaves turn yellow.
Perennials may be looking a bit ragged by this time. A little pruning will help to keep things looking trim. Cut back lanky flower stems of hostas and daylilies and keep black-eyed Susan, daisies and phlox trimmed.
Of course, all this free advice is “Do as I say and not as I do.”
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.