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Plant Preview


Welcome to Plant Preview, a blog dedicated to helping gardeners learn about gardening techniques and preview new plant cultivars. Read about new plants here first and hear how your "comrades in compost" are making use of new plant introductions in their gardens and landscapes. Blog author Geri Laufer is a life-long dirt gardener, degreed horticulturist, author and former County Extension Agent. Plant Preview is copyrighted by Geri Laufer.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Atlanta August Gardening Calendar for City Cafe' on WABE-FM

I had a real treat this morning. I was invited to chat with John Lemley about gardening at the NPR affiliate in Atlanta. The WABE-90.1 FM studio is only one half mile from my garden. Another bonus is that it was taped in advance (today) and producer Kate Sweeney promised to make us sound g-r-e-a-t! So I'm posting the notes I made prior to the interview on gardening during the month of August.

For warm climate gardeners the month of August brings a second chance at growing a garden especially if you can garden in the relative cool of the morning. There are plenty of gardening tasks for August that will keep your flower and vegetable gardens going longer. Midmonth is the time to think of cool weather crops.

Grow-Your-Own-Veggies / Locavores

Reasons to grow food in the garden: Save money, enjoy gardening, cut carbon footprint, veggie gardens are beautiful, don’t want salmonella or pesticides on the tomatoes

Summer crops like tomatoes, squash, cukes that were planted when it was still raining regularly should be coming in now. Pick squash, cucumbers and okra regularly. One over-ripe vegetable (with mature seeds inside), left on the vine will stop bloom production.
Therefore, make arrangements for neighbors to harvest and water your garden while you are on vacation.

Too many zucchini? Cook the blossoms before they turn into squash! Dunk Vidalia onion rings, squash-, daylily- or elderberry blossoms in tempura batter to make delicious fritters.

August 1st is not too late to plant more hot weather summer veggies that will allow time to mature before frost: Tomato starts, cucumbers, squash and snap bean seeds. Choose quick-ripening ones.

Still plenty of time to plant container-grown veggies- compact varieties but still need lots of water. Check on GA Governor Perdue's watering restrictions- no watering between 10 am and 4 pm.

tomato Problems we are seeing in August:
Buds but no tomatoes = too hot at night must be lower that 68-70 degrees F for fruit set
Yellowing, rotting or cracking tomatoes = too much rain
Blossom end rot = drought

Fragrant & Culinary Herbs
Cut back herbs like basil, mint and oregano by a third or a half, to prevent them from producing seed and keep them producing more fragrant leaves. 2 stems will grow after each pruning cut so the plants get bushier.

Plant small container-grown herb plants from the nursery any time: Add lime, plant in containers, in flower beds, in pine islands. Keep watered while establishing, and harvest leaves frequently

Native Rabbit-Eye Blueberries are nearing the end of their run. Pick-your-own, or make a note to plant some shrubs in your garden this fall for fruit next summer.

Prune Figs lightly now, removing the tall shoots in the middle of the bush. Fruit on horizontal limbs will dwvelop best. Water plants for plumpest figs.
Next month (September) plan and plant your cool season veggie garden with crops like lettuce, arugula, radish, carrots, kale, parsley, cilantro. (still too early for peas, sweetpeas, garlic)

Ornamentals/Flowers / Woody Shrubs

Hydrangeas, cut off faded pink and blue flowers and cut back stems by 1/3. The new growth that occurs between now and winter will produce next summer's blooms. (Everblooming varieties like PennyMac or Endless Summer can bloom on new wood from same season)

Crape myrtles are lighting up Atlanta in full bloom now! There are many sizes from low-growing 15-inch tall Rosey Carpet Crape Myrtles from Garden Debut(R) to 40-foot tall Natchez varieties.
Plumleaf azalea = red azaleas! now beginning to bloom (logo of Callaway Gardens) Rebloomers too.

Check the houseplants you've stationed outdoors for insect pests. Use soapy water to wash off insects if you find any. Fertilize houseplants. They are getting much more light now and can use the food to grow bigger, but hold the fertilizer as the days grow shorter.

Dead-Head faded flowers from salvia, zinnia, coneflower, annuals and especially petunias to encourage bushiness and the production of more flowers.

Still time to plant seed of marigold, cosmos, cleome, zinnia and dwarf sunflower. They'll make a spectacular flower show in six weeks: mid-September.

Receiving Bulb Catalogs now, writing my “Wish List”. Order spring-flowering bulbs in soon: narcissus, tulips, hyacinths, small bulbs, but plant in Oct/Nov (except for daffodils and true lilies which shouldn’t stay out of the ground longer than necessary) Trumpet Lilies crossed with Oriental Lilies = Triumphator

Pruning: Last Call to severely cut back overgrown shrubs – new growth will ripen before cold weather

Cut back mums, ironweed, swamp sunflowers, dahlias to half their height. Fertilize and water the plants now to produce a crop of late fall flowers.
Bring bouquets of garden flowers in from the garden!

Lawns

Sharpen blades of lawnmowers- so they slice the leaves of grass and clover rather than tearing them.

Zoysia / Bermuda lawns—warm season lawns; dormant throughout winter. Add lime in August, and it's still the optimum time to lay sod for a new lawn because grass grows quickly in the heat.

Fescue lawns-- cool season lawn; stays green and grows throughout winter; best in early spring- wait another month and reseed Sept 1, fertilize Oct 1.

I wonder which of our topics will make the cut, down from an hour interview to 3 or 4 minutes on air? It is due to run on City Cafe 90.1 FM on Tuesday, August 10 around noon.

photo credit open source for zucchini blossom fritters

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