A GROWING CONCERN: The do’s and don’ts of gardening in August

AUGUST IS HERE in all its glory; but as you have already noticed the daylight is getting shorter!

As the end of summer is but 6 weeks away, the climate conditions that affect your plants begin to change drastically, and so, too, the garden chores around your home.

With this in mind, let us stroll through the gardening list of do’s and don’ts that are pertinent to this time of year.

• Do buy bone meal and plenty of it! Bone meal is the miracle drug of the fall garden. Your perennials, trees, bulbs and grass will soon grow new roots, buds or eyes — starting to develop next year’s growth. Bone meal promotes and enhances all these functions along with greatly and enhancing your plant’s ability to successfully over-winter and stave off the cold.

• Do apply it now. It can take four or five weeks to break down and become available to your plants.

• Do not apply high-nitrogen fertilizers now to your plants because that would encourage lush, tender, new growth just in time for the coming frost. New growth brought on now will be damaged by the coming inclement weather.

• Do apply a slow-release, low-dose nitrogen like blood meal or milorganite to your lawn now. Your grass will soon be in plant nirvana as fall approaches and it does need a healthy, slow, release of nitrogen. But don’t mow it short yet. In the late fall, you will get your one shot to do the crew cut of lawn haircuts.

• Do lime your lawn now. Pre-fall is a perfect time if you have not done so in the last 6 months, but don’t apply too much.

• Do not transplant, move or divide your trees, bushes and perennials now, for this, too, encourages new tender growth only it to be damaged later on. November will be the perfect time for these digging jobs.

• Do, however go out and very soon buy your fall flower plants like pansies, mums, kale, cabbage, sedums, asters, perennials and the like.

• Do not wait to plant them, though, if they are perennial or biannual flowers because they will need these two last months of good weather in order to grow a root system and survive the winter — especially your fall mums.

• Do not give up on your hanging baskets, but rather pinch and deadhead them well. Definitely give them some new fertilizer in the form of Miracle-Gro. They still can be beautiful for two more months!

• Do not plant any spring bulbs until mid or late October at the earliest.

• Do however, start buying them as soon as you can and store them in a cool dark place.

• Don’t place them in a warm, bright ,well-ventilated spot or they will just shrivel and die out by October-November planting time.

• Do water your apple and pear trees very well now. If you don’t, even with all our grey moist days of late, they won’t be as juicy as they could be.

• Don’t let your inside foliage plants suffer from all the dust that has accumulated on them.

• Do take them outside and hose them down thoroughly, letting the water wash them from every angle. Then, to do them a great favor and cultivate up the soil. Add some new potting soil and some organic fertilizer, but don’t let them stay out in the fall sunlight too long to sunburn.

• Do recall this is a great time to shape prune, only removing those errant branches here and there, but do not do major pruning now because this will only encourage that new lush tender growth that is so easily damaged by frost and cold weather.

• Do start to plan your wildflower garden, cover crops and new lawn, and do start to find and order your seed, but do not sow the seed yet. If you wait until October, Mother Nature will do all the work. She will water the seed well and change the temperature so the bugs are gone and the insects are dead. If you don’t heed this advice, you will sure do it next year, as your results will be very poor.

• Do keep in mind that fall is the most work intensive time of the garden year. The work done will pay off with huge benefits next year.

And do stay well all!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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