Weed, water, harvest, eat! That’s what we do in August. And start the fall garden.
The Mountain Gardener is a newsletter put out by the Buncombe County Master Gardeners program, part of NC Extension. Each month they include a list of garden chores specific to western NC, as well as a calendar of events, class information, and planting tips.
Here is the slightly adapted list of chores for August:
• As soon as the rain gets your grass growing again, remember to maintain the 3 inch mowing height.
• This is not a good time for general pruning of shrubs. Restrict trimming to removing a few stray shoots.
• Do not apply nitrogen fertilizer (manure, straw, sawdust) to shrubs.
• Some plants will bloom until frost if you keep the spent flowers removed. Deadhead butterfly bush, purple coneflowers, phlox, and roses.
• If you still have hemlock trees in the landscape, check them for signs of hemlock woolly adelgid infestations. Fall is an excellent time to spray with insecticidal soap (here’s a recipe to make it yourself) or vegetable based horticultural oil.
• To keep those beautiful container gardens going, feed them with worm castings or granulated organic fertilizer.
Don’t be afraid to trim plants back if they have gotten leggy.
• Early apples will be appearing at the Farmers’ Markets. Look for varieties like Gala, Jonagold, Paulared and Granny Smith.
• Black rot has been a problem on grapes this year. There are no sure fire ways to treat this organically.
• Prune blackberries and raspberries after harvest.
• In the heat of August it may be difficult to think about fall crops. But this is the time to start setting out transplants for cabbage and broccoli and planting seeds for spinach and other leafy greens.
• The biggest challenges with fall vegetables are insect control and watering in August and September.
Regular applications of B.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis) will prevent the caterpillars from devouring everything in the cabbage family
• Practice good sanitation. Remove spent plants from the garden as soon as harvest is complete. Also remove diseased plants as soon as possible and don’t put them in the compost heap.
• Harvest basil when the plants begin to flower. Cut stems back to a set of lower leaves to get a flush of new growth.
• Remember that surplus produce can be donated to the Plant A Row For The Hungry collection. Fresh fruits and vegetables, in good condition are always welcome. Deliver to MANNA Food Bank at 627 Swannanoa River Road, M-F, 8:00—3:30.