Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August (late August) Garden Talks

Hello again,

What a wonderful gardening season it has been! Yes, it has been hot but my feeling is embrace the heat--I love it! We had some dry lawns and soils in the first part of July but since then rains have been pretty timely.

*Some of my gardening peers discourage feeding of flowering plants at this point of the year. I take a different tact. I know I can be accused of trying to sell lots of fertilizer. But I garden naturally and my take for most flowering situations (perennials, shrubs, vegetable gardens) is that we ask a great deal of our plants and soils in a short amount of time. Therefore, my feeling and experience is that most flowering plants perform best with 2 gentle, spaced apart, feedings of all natural fertilizers. This would be something like Pro Gro by North Country Organics or Flower Tone by Espoma for most flowering plants and Holly Tone by Espoma for acid loving plants like evergreens, blueberries and blue hydrangeas. Directions should be followed.
My thought is that the feedings should be spaced apart. For example, Spring and late Summer; Early Summer and Fall, etc. I believe that these foods work with the biology of the soil and the plant's roots benefit first. The roots become bigger and stronger with better biology in the soil. Then the plant's performance becomes more vigorous over time. The plant can then better withstand our cold winters, wet springs and dry, hot summers with deeper and stronger roots.

Most of my plants have had their Spring and early summer feeding. Now it is time for the late summer and fall second feeding!

*I recently sowed another crop of red sails lettuce, broccoli and swiss chard in containers. It is not too late and we have a great selection of 2013 seeds available now from Botanical Interests!

*Now is a great time to divide and transplant peonies! (And iris as well). Plant both plants very shallow and start off the new divisions with some nice organic matter in the soil. I use Flower Tone by Espoma as a soil conditioner because of the beneficial microbes and bacteria the product contains.

*Paul Parent brings some great advice about Butterfly Bush. First of all it is a MUST in anyone's yard and garden. He gives great advice about trimming the Butterfly Bush:
"Butterfly bush is another plant that will bloom all summer and right up to frost if you keep removing the faded flowers from the plant. The first flowers made will grow up to 10 inches long before they fade, but if you remove them, the plant will make two new flowers to replace the one. Within a couple of weeks a flower bud will form on each side of the bud you removed and they will grow to 6 to 8 inches long. When they fade, remove those two faded flowers and 4 new flower buds will form in their place. They will be smaller 4 to 6 inches but there will be 4 of them to keep your plant colorful and attracting butterflies to your garden. Just keep removing the faded flowers and the plant will keep flowering."
Butterfly Bush--One of the Best Repeat Bloomers!
*Great gardener Margaret of A Way to Garden writes about gardening in August: "Think of it as spot cleaning, you know, when you dab at the ketchup on your shirt rather than wash the whole thing right then and there. That’s what August is for in the garden: spot cleaning.... But I can try to trick the eye ...with some targeted trimming, mulching and edging. The August chores that follow will make for greater personal visual enjoyment late summer and fall, reduce hiding places for pests and disease—and after all, it’s really just a headstart on fall cleanup, one spot at a time. [read more…] 
*Margaret goes on to make a great point about weeds: "Every weed pulled now is a hundred (a million?) you don’t have to deal with later. Don’t let them go to seed. Make a pass through each bed each week, since weeds are not just unsightly but steal moisture, nutrients and light from desired plants. Too many to handle in a particular area? Smother them with cardboard and mulch, like this."
Click HERE for the full listing of August Garden Chores by Margaret of A Way to Garden.

*Rains will be more plentiful soon and along with the warm soil this means it is a great time to seed over gaps in the lawn as well as overseed thin areas. Click HERE for easy to do Skillin's Lawn Program.

*More tips soon!


Mike Skillin

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