With the month of August now upon us there are several things you can and should be doing around your gardens and lawns. Let’s start with lawns.
It’s been a year with adequate moisture for many of us. If you are reading this in a year when there is drought or a lack of regular rainfall you will likely need to be watering quite a bit. Containers still need to be watered regularly, but those in the shade might not need it daily anymore. Check the soil with your fingers a couple of inches into the pot.
I still feed my container plants this time of the year with a good liquid fertilizer and a small amount of a granular fertilizer as well. If you put your plants in over 3 months ago many of the time release fertilizers might have stopped working.
Late this month you can start to think about reseeding or overseeding the lawn. It’s still too early and the sun is still going to dry out the soil too quickly. There is likely some crabgrass in the lawn this time of year. Rather than spraying with a chemical try pulling it out by hand. If you do this a bit each day you can often remove a lot of the grass without synthetic chemicals which are harmful the environment and you. Keep your lawn cut to 3 to 3.5 inches. This will help prevent weed seeds from germinating in the lawn.
Many you have asked about why your hydrangeas are not blooming so well this year. There are all sorts of varieties of these plants, but largely there are two groups of blooming habit. Some hydrangea bloom on old wood (last year’s growth) and some bloom on new wood (this year’s growth). There are hybrids as well that do both. The blue and pink mophead hydrangeas are called macrophylla and bloom mostly on old wood. There are new varieties that bloom on this year’s growth as well. Here’s the problem. When a plant blooms on old wood it sets the blooms for the following spring in the summer and fall of the previous year. So the blooms for your hydrangea were set in the summer and fall of 2103 and sat on those branches all winter. There are two potential problems for why you have no blooms. First, if you cut the sticks back in the fall or early this spring you removed any chance of blooms this year. More likely if you left the woody growth is that the cold killed the bloom blossoms and thus you have a lot of new growth but little or no flowers.
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Assuming this winter isn’t as bad, next year will be better. You could also use an anti-desiccant like Wiltpruf on your plants late this fall and again in mid-February. This can help prevent the bloom buds from drying out from the cold. By all means, don’t cut the sticks back!
It’s not too late to plant lots of things in the garden. You can plant seeds of beets, kales, lettuces, radish, turnip, carrots, choys, peas, beans and even try cucumbers this week. As we get later into the month, put some of these seeds in a container you can easily protect from an early frost. If you plan things right, you’ll be able to keep harvesting these things well into October and November.