Enjoy the bounty of blooming August gardens
August gardens are bursting with annuals, perennials and flowering vines in bloom.
Vegetable gardens are abundant with produce –ripening tomatoes, plump green beans, summer squash and sweet corn ready to boil, butter and enjoy.
Cucumbers are table-ready now, and crisp, cool slices in a fresh garden salad are delectable. If you have never tried broiled cucumbers, you may want to give this treat a try. Cut fresh cucumbers lengthwise and remove the seeds and pulp. Cut enough from the bottom of each half so that the cucumber will sit flat. Remove the skin unless the cucumbers are “just picked” fresh.
Place the peeled halves hollow side down in a baking pan and broil them just until their water content is reduced, then flip them over to the hollow side and dot with butter, pepper, salt, and a dash of dill. Put them back under the broiler for about five minutes or until they lose all stiffness and are golden with the butter and dill. Fill the hollows with sour cream and add a sprinkle of garlic powder. Put them back under the broiler until the sour cream is just warm and they are ready to serve.
Divide and multiply
We usually think of spring and fall as the best time to divide plants but August works very well for some perennials. Bearded iris, Hardy geraniums, Coral bells, Coreopsis, Daylilies, Lamb’s ear, and Yarrow, to name a few, do well when divided now. When you notice perennials are over-crowded, not blooming well, shrinking or dying out in the center of the plant, it is probably time to divide them.
When a perennial is over-crowded, it tends to put all of its energy into maintaining its roots, stems and foliage and its blooming strength is reduced, resulting in fewer blossoms on the plant. Under stress (such as our extreme heat and drought this summer) an over-crowded plant tends to die out in the center while trying to maintain its peripheral growth.
Dividing plants successfully now requires watering the parent plant well the day before dividing and then watering the divisions well after replanting them. Before dividing any plant, cut it back to half its growth so that the roots of the divisions will have less plant to support when they are transplanted. After dividing, replant the divisions quickly and cover their roots half way up in the holes with soil. Water in well and add a small amount of liquid fertilizer. Fill the hole the rest of the way up and water well again. Adding a layer of mulch around each division will also help keep the soil moist and get the transplant off to a good start.
Divisions that are planted in full-sun locations should have some shelter in the heat of the day until they are well established. Push in a few small stakes around each transplant and attach a piece of cardboard that can be angled to keep the hottest sun off of the division for about 2 weeks. This sheltering will give the plant extra protection while it is weak and its roots are getting established in the soil. Water the divisions twice a day for the first two weeks and water more if you see any wilting. By fall, the new divisions will be well rooted and ready for the winter.
August garden tips – Now’s the time to cut back on fertilizing established plants and trees to reduce new tender growth before winter.
Re-seed any dead or thin areas of your lawn.
Move houseplants that have been outside into shadier areas to acclimate them back to the lower light indoor area.
Sow a late crop of vegetables for one more harvest before winter.
If you have garden questions or tips for other gardeners, send them in to