Dirt on Gardening

August is a time of year where the gardener begins to look forward to autumn. The days begin to be noticeably shorter. Temperatures in the evenings and mornings are cooler. The summer vegetable garden is producing, but production begins to taper.

Gardeners that want a fall/early winter harvest can plant another bed of cool season vegetables. Lettuce, kohlrabi, kale, peas, spinach, beets and cabbage are all things that can be planted by seed in August for a September to October harvest.

If you are planning for an autumnal veggie bed, plant these seeds little deeper than you would in the spring. Be sure to constantly monitor the beds for weeds and for moisture. The seeds should germinate easily with the warm temperatures of August. However, moisture will also be needed more frequently due to the warmer weather and weeds will germinate easily, too.

Daylilies, irises and peonies can all be dug and divided at this time. For peonies, cut back the green growth and use a knife to cut the roots of the plant, leaving three to five eyes per piece for re-planting.

Remaining growth can be cut off of daylilies and irises, too. Divide clumps leaving a few growth shoots for each new transplant. It’s not necessary to water these transplants. They will remain dormant. If weather permits, these transplants may begin some new root growth but main growth will be next spring.

Do you have any flowers that set seed that you want to save for planting next year? August is great time of year to collect seeds. Put the seeds you collect in an envelope and store them in a cool dry plant to plant the following spring.

If you collect seeds from a perennial plant, they will need to planted in a potting mixture and left outside for about six weeks of cold weather in order for the seeds to germinate in the spring. This can also be achieved by storing the seeds for several weeks in a cold place such as the refrigerator. The seeds can then be brought indoors to grow into seedlings that can be planted the following spring.

Garden maintenance in August can include shearing back perennial plants that have completed their bloom. After they have completed berry production, raspberry canes can also be cut back to make way for new canes in the spring. Climbing roses can also be cut back for the new growth the following spring.

Worn areas of the lawn can be reseeded in late August, giving the new lawn a chance to grow good roots in the fall. Plans can be made to apply a fall fertilizer by November to allow the lawn to be in great shape for the following spring.

Questions or comments related to gardening? Contact Joleen at missourigardener@hotmail.com

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