By Kathy Hogrefe
Publisher, Carolina Gardener
What’s a gardener to do in the dead heat of summer?
The frenzy of spring planting is now nothing more than a distant memory. Of course, there are still more than enough weeds
to pull, veggies continue to thrive requiring daily harvesting, and watering must be done barring rain; but for the most part,
our gardens are in full-blown summer mode—lush, colorful, bountiful and pretty much holding their own.
suggestion for August is to simply enjoy the break! I can just hear my gardening friends gasping at this statement. Mind you,
I’m not advocating abandoning your garden totally this month. I’m simply saying this is a great opportunity to
try something new, expand your horizons. It’s the perfect time to take advantage of the fact that our gardens will continue
to flourish without our constant doting.
So, if I take my own advice, it means I will be casting a rod during
this hiatus. I have made a pact to go fishing with my husband—something he truly loves to do. Whereas I find relaxation,
stress-relief and fun in gardening, he finds it in casting a rod in hopes of catching “the big one!”
years ago I purchased this metal sculpture of a funky fisherman (who hooked the big one) because I liked it, but also to remind
me that every now and then, it’s nice to put someone else’s hobby or passion in front of your own. This is particularly
true since the hubby (despite his apathy towards gardening) pitches in to help me in the garden whenever I ask. As they say,
give and take makes for a happy relationship.
Nonetheless, August does include a few gardening tasks. It is the
perfect time to scrutinize your landscape and figure out what plants need to be divided. Irises, one of my very favorite spring
beauties, have been done blooming for several months; even the foliage is looking somewhat ragged now which makes it the ideal
time to dig and divide. Late this month, or in early September, mature daylilies should be divided. Division is a great way
to expand your garden, or better yet, share with friends and family—undoubtedly you’ll get some wonderful, even
surprising, plants in return!
Be sure to take some time this month to decide what works and what doesn’t work in
your landscape. It’s important to jot down your thoughts on a pad and begin tackling areas that are lacking once cooler
temps settle in. You will be thrilled next spring when your hard work produces an even more spectacular garden.
Despite our best efforts, some of our container gardens look horrible by August. As it’s really too late to refurbish
with summer annuals, and too early to replace with fall favorites like pansies, mums and decorative kale, I suggest that you
yank the unsightly stuff and consolidate containers. It will give you fewer containers, but the ones that remain will
look stunning for the rest of the season.
Sad, but true, the last of the summer vegetables are coming in. Enjoy
them fresh and if your harvest is bountiful, preserve them for the months to come through canning or freezing. The good news
is that it’s almost time to begin planting our fall vegetables including lettuce, radishes, spinach, and collards. Fall
veggie gardens, versus spring ones, need a bit more care when it comes to watering as August and September temperatures are
considerably hotter. Setting seeds slightly deeper this time of year helps as the deeper soil is slightly moister and cooler.
Perhaps you will use part of this time to catch up on your reading. There are wonderful gardening books in the marketplace
that can enhance your knowledge or spur ideas for hardscaping.
Whether you take some time this summer to go fishing,
golfing, camping, hiking, biking, bowling, shopping—you catch my drift—simply be sure to enjoy the experience
to the fullest. After all, our gardens will once again demand our full attention come fall!