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Your Regional Garden News - Zone 9

August 1 to August 30

 

Discover what you should be doing right now.  Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.  

Here's what's happening in your gardening region:

The heat may be here to stay, but it’s finally late enough in the season for you to start planting seeds of warm season annuals and vegetables again. Hooray! That means that you can replace spent or struggling plants with seedlings of your favorite tomatoes, cucumbers and squashes. In August, you’re left with two choices; devote your energy to helping existing plantings along until cooler weather, or replacing them with seeds or starts of new flowers or veggies. Now is a great time to go out early in the morning (while it’s still cool) and give your garden a refreshing weekly facelift. Add another layer of compost and mulch where it’s needed, remove any pests by hand, treat or destroy any diseased plants, remove spent flowers and give scraggly annuals a thorough haircut. It might be too hot to garden outside during the day, but the early morning is a perfect time to complete garden chores or just to enjoy the beautiful retreat you made with your own two hands.

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    Maintain flowerbeds

    If your annuals and perennials are looking a bit overgrown or scraggly right now, all it takes is a quick pick-me-up to get things back in shape. Rampant vines or perennials can be pruned back to the desired height or all the way to the ground if you’d rather just remove them altogether. Spindly looking annuals can be rejuvenated by removing spent blooms to devote more energy to new growth, also known as deadheading. In most cases, you can also give them a hearty trim for a flush of new blooms. If weeds keep popping up in your flowerbeds, pull them all one more time and add another layer of mulch to hold them at bay for a while. The mulch will also help conserve moisture on hot days. Also, make sure that you’re providing enough fertilizer by following the label instructions. It’s easy enough to remember to feed the veggies, but sometimes the flowers get overlooked!

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  • Landscape with Evergreen herbs

    Do you wish you had more room in the veggie garden for herbs? Herbs are so attractive that you have every reason to use them in your flowerbeds, along paths or even as a lawn replacement. Thyme is a prime example for its finely textured foliage, low creeping habit and exceptional durability. Choose creeping thyme for a carpetlike mat of fragrance or common thyme where a little more height and bushiness is needed. Lemongrass isn’t just an essential ingredient to many Southeast Asian recipes; it’s also an incredibly graceful and tropical looking ornamental grass with delicately arching wide blades. Cats love it too! Another herb that deserves more planting for beauty’s sake is oregano, which creates a solid weed-suppressing groundcover within a season. Each of these herbs is perennial and evergreen in zones 9-11, and can be planted any time of the year.

  • Start planting warm-season veggies

    It’s still blazing hot out there, but it’s the right time to plant seeds of warm season veggies. This means that you can finally get cucumbers, corn, squashes, tomatoes and corn in the ground and keep them there for several months. If you already have hot season plantings like sweet potatoes or okra going, leave them there until they finish production in fall. Then dig them up and use the space for your cool season vegetables. Here are a few helpful tips for warm season vegetables: Now may be the time to plant, but your seedlings will fail if the soil is allowed to dry out. Water them with a hose each day that it doesn’t rain until they develop sturdy stems. Most veggies need to be planted at the same level that they were growing in the pot, but you should plant tomatoes a few inches deeper so that roots form along the stem. Start tomato seeds in pots or cell trays until the plants are at least a few inches tall and plant them deeply. Cucumbers and squashes are vulnerable to a handful of problems like squash vine borers and cucumber beetles, whose larvae dig holes into your crop when you’re not looking; and powdery mildew appears as a white powder on leaves and leaves your crop stunted until the plants die. There are different controls like the cucumber beetle trap that you can use, but prevention is the best remedy. Keep weeds away from plants, space them out well and avoid touching the plants when the leaves are wet.

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  • Plant an edible container garden

    Short on space? You can still harvest a bounty of vegetables from your patio or balcony from seeds planted directly into pots. The key is to choose plants that won’t outgrow their space, and there are many to choose from. Any tomatoes can be planted singly in large pots along with flowers and herbs, which can be removed when the tomato plants begin to shade them out. Some great fruits to grow in pots include blueberries, strawberries and figs. Don’t be afraid to get creative either. Plant herbs together in a single large pot to create a tapestry of flavor; or mix them in with your potted vegetables and fruits. For color, try mixing in edible flowers like nasturtiums, daylilies and marigolds. To give your edibles the most light and give a layered look, group potted plants together with taller ones along the back and shorter ones like herbs in the front.

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    Plant pumpkins

    What Thanksgiving cornucopia would be complete without an assortment of colorful pumpkins? It’s next to impossible to grow your own pumpkins for Halloween in our hot climate, but they can still be planted now for festive late fall decorations by the doorstep and on the table. If you’d like to grow pumpkins yourself, be advised that they need lots of space (6 feet between plants) and must be planted in a sunny spot with moist, but never soggy, soil. They also need applications of a balanced (10 – 10 – 10) fertilizer every month and nonstop pest and weed removal, but will be well worth the effort when they’re ready just in time to serve up pumpkin pie for the holidays. One of the most popular pumpkins for carving is the ‘Connecticut Field’, and it also does well in our heat. ‘Small Sugar’ is a smaller and older variety of ‘Connecticut Field’ that is suitable for pie making. ‘Galeux D'Eysines’ is an heirloom variety from the south of France with decorative warts, a light rosy orange hue and excellent flavor.

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • Power string trimmers are dangerous to trees planted in turf. The tender bark of young trees is especially vulnerable to injury from the whirling nylon string as it cuts back tall grass at their base. The smallest wound provides access for insects or disease to tree tissues. Spread mulch or plant groundcovers over tree root zones to keep grass and trimmers a safe distance from trees. If a tree is damaged, clean the wound with a sharp knife to removed tattered bark. In most cases the plant will heal itself.