August can be a slow time for lawn and garden work. Most summer vegetable gardens have passed their peak and dry weather has reduced the growth of grass. There are, however, a number of tips that may be helpful to lawns and gardens during August. They are as follows:
• If azaleas look chlorotic (pale-green to yellow) check soil pH. They need acid soil because alkalinity locks up iron needed for green color. Sulfur reduces soil pH.
• Check on water needs of hanging baskets daily in the summer. Wind and sun dry them much more quickly than other containers.
• To determine if an apple is ready to pick, hold it up and give it a twist. If it resists, let it ripen a few more days.
• To reduce the number of pests on your fruit tree for the coming year, pick up and destroy all fallen fruit. Worms hide in the fallen fruit, and then pupate in the soil. They will be ready to lay eggs the next year.
• Remove old plants that have stopped producing to eliminate shelters for insects and disease organisms.
• Root cuttings of woody shrubs and evergreens; such as azaleas, holly and hydrangea, at this time of year.
• During hot, dry, August days, avoid deep cultivation in your flower beds. Loosening the soil under these conditions reduces water uptake by increasing loss of soil water and damaging surface roots. Plants often look much worse after cultivation than before.
• Take cuttings of favorite annuals or sow seeds in pots for winter flowering indoors.
The following bedding plants root easily: Coleus, geraniums, impatiens, wax begonias and fuchsia. Plant calendula, ageratum, marigold, stock, impatiens and snapdragon from seeds.
• Don’t let your hybrid, annual flowers go to seed. This weakens the plants and reduces bloom.
In addition, the seed is not desirable to save because the resulting seedlings usually will be very different from the parent and often of poorer quality.
• Water your plants several hours before applying pesticides, especially during dry weather. Drought-stressed plants have less water in their plant tissues, and the chemicals that enter the leaves consequently will be more concentrated and may burn the leaves.
Call the Dawson County Extension Office, (706) 265-2442, with your lawn and garden questions. We are here to help.
Clark Beusse is the Dawson County extension agent.