Lets Talk About August by Pat Cordray

August gardening can be a challenge. The weather, too much sun and heat, not enough rain, too much rain, we just don’t know what it will be. Then, this is the second month in our bug season. Our plants are getting more stressed each day. This stress attracts more bugs. Mealy bugs, ants, aphids and scaleare in full swing. But all the news is not bad.We are just around the corner from fall and that is glorious. 

If you are gardening for hummingbirds, August is the time to start watching for them to migrate through our area. Want hummingbirds to visit your garden? Plant for them! Hamelia patens is the hummingbird bush, flame acanthus, pentas, firecracker fern, red rocket, Texas betony, pineapple sage, redyucca, cigar plant, bee balm, shrimp plants and all kinds of salvia are great nectar plants that will attract the hummingbirds. Hummingbirds also feed on insects so don’t use insecticides, herbicides or other chemical or synthetic products. These products may take care of your problem but they will also harm the hummingbirds you’re trying to attract to your garden.

August is the time to get some of your fall vegetable transplants into the ground. August and September, plant lima beans, corn, okra, black-eyed peas, crowder peas, cream peas, purple hull peas and peppers.

Mid August  – September plant green beans, cauliflower, kale and Swiss chard. Toward the end of the month it will be tomato time!

If you are starting broccoli, cabbage or chard from seed start them at theend of August and transplant these into the garden at the end

of September. Once planted in your garden keep these delicate transplants from getting scorched by the sun with shade cloth.

I cut back my roses twice a year, once in February and once in August. I don’t cut back my roses as much in August as I do in February, about half. Cutting back the roses in August helps them to look fantastic for the fall bloom. While you’re out in the rose garden trimming away go ahead and feed the roses with MicroLife for azaleas. I know that may seem like a trick but azaleas and roses like the same type of soil, so no worries.

 So what do you do if you have all or some of the critters listed in the first paragraph? When I water, I examine my plants to see if anything has decided to munch or suck on them. If that is the case, I have a good chance of getting rid of the problem by simply cutting off the affected area and then throwing that into the trash. I may not need to do anything else except to watch. If the problem has gotten away from me, then I will need to spray. I use horticultural oil or neem oil for most things. Orange oil and copper soap are other options. Don’t sprayanything that needs watering and avoid spraying in the heat ofthe day. Also, if there are butterfly and hummingbird plants around don’t spray. What kills pests also will kill the beneficials. Please try to stay completely away from systemic products that contain Imidacloprid. Imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids can easily kill the beneficial insects indiscriminately. 

August gardening is indeed a challenge, but it can heal the soul.