The Gardener's August Calendar

Summer blooms in the garden.
August goes by quickly in the garden, filled with hot temperatures and the steady advancement toward shorter days. Let's keep the tasks short and sweet.

Maintenance  
The garden usually needs help this month with water, so keep an eye on plants. The best time to water is in the morning. Also, be sure to deadhead flowers regularly to keep plants looking their best.

Vegetable Beds
Use any empty space in the veggie garden beds to sow carrot, beet, lettuce, radish, spinach and pea seeds now for a fall crop. I'm going to plant some in my cold frame, too, so I can extend the crops when the days get colder. As vegetable areas are harvested - and if you do not plan on sowing a fall crop (gasp!) - start sowing cover crops to help condition the soil this fall and over the winter.

Hydrangea Care
Prune hydrangeas now - such as Endless Summer varieties - for flowers next summer. There is a short three-week window to do this in August; after that, the plants will put their energy into creating flower buds for next year. Read more here.

Divide and Trim Irises
This can be started in July and continued throughout this month in the Northeast. Irises should be divided every three to five years, or when clumps start to lack flowers. There's a helpful article on dividing and transplanting rhizome iris here. In addition, start trimming back irises to the "stubs" (except for rebloomers) which can prevent iris borers from ruining plants. This is not only a fall chore that you are getting a jump on, but it removes the site where the iris borer moth wants to lay its eggs.

Pests
Keep shaking Japanese beetles into cups of soapy water to get rid of them. The best time to do this is in the morning or early evening hours, when they are not as active. Have you applied neem oil to your perennial hibiscus? I forgot to this year and the hibiscus sawfly is having a field day eating the leaves.

Bulbs
Now is the time to figure out where you want to plant bulbs for spring blooms. Look at your garden photos from this past spring (really, how was that only four months ago!) to see where you need pops of color.

Remember to get outside and enjoy the flowers! Summer is fleeting - onward!

These chores are based on my garden located in Zone 6b.

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