August Garden Ramblings

The month of August rolled in with a big ol' heat wave and smoky, hazy skies from all the scary forest fires burning on the mainland. We are praying for rain but there is nothing in sight, just more high temps, according to the weather man's forecast.

Ruby Tuesday is checking out the Canada 150 Zinnia bed

It feels like all I do at this time of year is water, water, and then water some more. Luckily, most of the cutting gardens and perennial beds are full of drought tolerant flowers. They look great and require very little additional tlc from me. Whew!

This gorgeous red and white 'Canada 150' colour theme is from Renee's Garden Seeds. They have the very best seed combos! Perfect for those of us who like to colour co-ordinate our gardens, or prefer to avoid adding certain ugly hues colours (like yellow, ugh!) into our yards ; )


Watering and more watering.

I am thrifty about my watering, and very selective. The edibles are my first priority always.

Living in an area that has drought all summer long, it is prudent to be water wise. Most all of us, here on the island, let the lawns go dormant in summer, till fall rains green them up again, and we mulch our trees, shrubs and perennial beds to retain moisture and save water where we can.


So how much water do your veggies need in order to thrive? 

Some vegetables only require an inch of water per week to thrive. This would be plants like corn, beans, peppers, eggplants, and root veggies such as carrots, potatoes, and onions. However, this prolonged dry spell along with the heat wave, is making our gardens dry out much faster than usual, so water a bit more often, if you can.

I only water my pepper plants every 5 to 7 days, as they actually produce less peppers and can be kind of bland and tasteless if watered too often. Growing hot peppers? Let them go dry between each watering.

The juicy veggies, like tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and squash need to be watered more often, soak them twice a week.

Make sure to soak the beds very thoroughly. I use weeping hoses in my beds, but this time of year will also hand water the corners and sides of the raised beds, where it dries out the fastest.

Water before 4 pm, ideally in the mornings, so that plants do not go into the evening with wet soil or wet foliage. Moisture at night brings on powdery mildew, fungal issues, and perhaps even blight.


Watering Fruit trees...

If your trees are new, planted this year or last, you will need to water them once a week during this hottest, driest time of the year. Do not water every day or you will end up with shallow rooted, weak plants, plus maybe even root rot. You want the trees to start putting down nice deep roots and going after their own water.

Encourage these deep roots by giving them a good deep soak when you water, then let them go dry in between. If, like me, you do not have your trees on a drip system, place the hose at the drip line at a slow trickle and leave for 20 minutes. Move on to the next tree (do the same with shrubs and roses, too).

If you have well established fruit trees, you can probably get away with no additional watering. My old plums and apples get no water from me at all, and yet they continue to thrive and produce like mad.


Hanging baskets, planters, and container gardens ...

This is a good time to toss a bit more slow release fertiliser on your containers, if you have some on hand. You will still need to feed every 10 to 14 days with a regular water soluble fertiliser for happy baskets/planters with lots of blooms, but the slow release helps keep things looking fine in case you forget once in a while.

Water hanging baskets and containers daily. For more information on keeping your baskets looking great in the summer heat, see HERE!


Tomatoes...

With all this heat, the tops may wilt in the late afternoons, but do not fret, they will soon bounce back again as the cooler evening temps prevail.

Tomatoes require less water than you might think, every third day should be plenty, as long as you water well. Tomatoes that are over watered are more prone to BER (Blossom End Rot) and also tend to be bland tasting.

Keep removing suckers from the axles so that plants put their energy into fruiting rather than making new branches.

If growing tomatoes in pots, make sure to feed them every week or two with a good tomato food. Top dressing the pots with a couple of handfuls of manure is also a good idea.

If growing them in the garden, you can side dress around the plants with manure or compost, if an extra boost is needed. The nutrients will be dispersed as you water. You can also give them a foliar feed with a liquid seaweed solution, spraying the foliage in mornings only.


Onions... If your tops have folded over, you need to lift them, whether they are of a good size, or not. They stop growing once the tops topple and will just rot if left in the beds.

Lay them out to cure with your garlic. They like the same conditions .. a shady place with good air flow.

Some onions, like sweet Walla Walla, are not good storage onions, so will not keep long. Pick them and use them straight from the garden throughout the summer. If you need to store them, for best results, cure well and store in a cool, dry spot for up to three or four months. Store in panty hose, in paper bags, or open baskets.

Kohlrabi in the garden

What to sow from seed this month?
- Beets
- Cabbage
- Greens, such as pak choi, mustards, arugula, cress
- Herbs, cilantro, dill
- Kohlrabi
- Lettuce
- Peas
- Radishes
- Spinach
- Spring onions

Transplants - You can plant your fall and winter starter plants this month, too....broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.


When sowing seeds in the dry heat of the summer, is hard to keep them moist till germination occurs. Covering with burlap sacks will help to retain moisture longer. For more information on how to start seeds in the dead of summer, see HERE!


When cleaning your cured garlic, take out any that have small nicks, bruised, dents, or flaws. Use those up with your canning and cooking.

Use smaller bulbs in the kitchen, as your culinary garlic, saving the biggest and 'bestest' ones for planting. Always plant your best ones in order to grow the biggest, healthiest bulbs.
   
Order more garlic for fall planting : )

Beautiful organic Caspar eggplants. 

Have a greenhouse? Stay tuned for the new Greenhouse Ramblings post.

Happy Gardening! 

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