Monday, August 1, 2011

August Garden Chores

It is hard to talk about gardening without commenting on the over 100’ F heat we recently escaped. And the recent water restrictions imposed by the Dedham Westwood Water District, must make us think responsibly about water use. But don’t despair when looking across dried lawns and crispy perennials, instead keep in mind that long, slow watering, which allows the water to trickle down deep into the soil surrounding your plants roots will provide most plants with the water they need to survive. And as for the plants or new plantings with higher water needs, rain barrels can help, if we continue to have these periodic rain storms then these kinds of barrels are a great way of capturing that rain water and allowing you to use it when you need it most. For larger properties, wells can be a great way of dispensing larger quantities of water.
Weeding is a perennial chore (pun intended) and this year is no exception, so keep at it. Although in some situations it may seem as though weeds are “Shading your perennials or veggies,” remember they are stealing the water and nutrients from them as well, so weed, weed, weed. 
Bleeding heart (Dicentra) and Oriental poppies (Papaver) – now is a good time to dig up and divide these plant roots while they are dormant.  Cut the root into sections about 2” long, and then plant each section as if it were a new plant, or pot some up to give to friends.
Praying Mantis blending in with Hydrangea leaves.
‘Good Bugs’ – I seem to mention a multitude of insects that are attacking your garden plants.  But remember there are insects, which we want in our gardens, they act as pollinators, soil builders and predators of the ‘bad bugs’.  When you consider using pesticides and insecticides in your yard, keep in mind these beneficial bugs and ask for products, which specifically target your problem bugs or consider ‘green solutions’. Beneficial Bugs include: Bees which help pollinate and make our flowers beautiful; Lady Bugs which eat aphids, scale and mites; Praying Mantis which eat a multitude of ‘bad bugs; and Lacewing which eat caterpillars and leaf hoppers.
Reseeding your lawn, late August through September is best time of year, whether you are repairing bare patches or creating a new lawn.  And remember that seed needs a little bit of water every day to germinate effectively, just enough water to moisten not down the seeds. Consider keeping your lawns longer, mow at 2 1/2” to 3”.  The UMass Turf department states that longer blades of grass correlate to deeper roots (and deeper roots need less frequent watering).
And if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to move your potted Amaryllis into a cool, dry area. They should be allowed to dry out until repotting time in October.