August Garden Almanac
Summer vegetables are at their best in August. All vegetables taste better if eaten the day they are picked. And August is the month to set out winter-garden vegetables: plant broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, and peas.
Chives, parsley, mint, and thyme, sown in colorful pots now, will provide seasoning for the kitchen during the fall months.
Annuals: Annual flowers can become leggy as the summer progresses; control leggy growth by cutting back at least one-third zinnias, cosmos, and marigolds. You can start the seed of fall annuals now – dianthus, Iceland poppies, pansies, snapdragons, stock, and violas. Replace summer annuals as they grow tired.
Perennials: Thin overgrown plants now allowing for new growth before winter. Remove woody growth to increase air circulation and sunlight. Replace perennials that are fading after years of service in the garden. Water plants at the base, not overhead.
Bulbs: Plant or move bearded iris rhizomes now for best blooms next spring. Divide bearded iris every three years or so.
Roses: Roses often take a rest in midsummer when it is very hot. Deadhead and trim roses now so that they are ready for a new burst of blossoms as the heat wanes in autumn. Give established garden roses a deep watering every three weeks or so.
Shrubs: After shrubs have finished blooming, you can prune for shape and also to remove dense interior growth; this will encourage air circulation and sunlight and discourage pests and disease. Deadhead flowers unless you want berries to form for bird visitors to the garden.
Trees: Prune out vertical shoots and suckers now. When the flowers of spring and summer blooming trees are spent, you can prune trees to shape and to remove dead and diseased branches. Protect small newly planted trees from late summer sun by covering them with light horticultural cloth.
Vegetables and Herbs: Vegetable garden too productive? Share your harvest with local food banks and convalescent and retirement homes. Sow cool-weather crops such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower now. Thin pumpkins and melons to only one to three fruits per vine.
Fruits and Berries: Dispose of fallen fruit and leaves to prevent disease and insect problems. Use a strong stream of water to wash aphids, leaf hoppers, and caterpillars off foliage.
Garden Maintenance: Remove plant litter and fallen leaves from the garden to discourage pests and disease. Rebuild water basins around trees and shrubs – berm the soil from 4 to 6 inches. Deep water established plants every three weeks or so.
Native Plants: Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to many native bloomers in summer. Blooming now are California fuchsias, sunflowers, goldenrods, gumplants, woolly blue curls, and asters
Nature Alerts: Beavers will be active along Sonoma streams this month after the birth of their kits who are now old enough to move outside of their lodges for short periods. Hummingbirds are active in summertime; seven species of hummingbirds are found in Northern California. The caliiope is about 2 inches long; Anna’s is about 4 inches long. The others are black-chinned, Costa’s, broad-tailed, rufus, and Allen’s.
Kenwood Weather Averages: Temperature: Average High 83°F, Average Low 53°F, Mean 68°F; Average Precipitation 0.07 inches; Record High 107°F (2010), Record Low 30°F (2011).
Sunrise and Sunset: Sunrise on the 1st 6:13 a.m., Sunset on the 1st 8:21 p.m.; Sunrise on the 31st 6:39 a.m., Sunset on the 31st 7:42 p.m.
Moon: Full on Aug. 29; Last quarter/waning on Aug. 7; New on Aug. 14; First quarter/waxing on Aug. 22.
Steve Albert is the author of The Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide available at Amazon.com. He teaches in the landscape design program at the U.C. Berkeley Extension. He lives in Oakmont.