Greetings everyone and thanks again for your following. This week I will go over some things to do in the garden in the month of August, which is an important month as it is the time when most of your annuals will begin to reach peak production with fruits and vegetables.
Weeding: Weeding now as weeds appear and before they start to seed is important all the time. It is more important in August because your plants will need all available water and food. Weeds that are left in place will use up those essential resources. Also making sure they don’t go to seed will help with weed control in the fall and next spring.
Harvesting: As your plants get closer to the 90 to 120 day old period they will peak in production and begin to slow down. You can encourage more buds by picking more often. A good example is zucchini- instead of waiting for monster zucchini, pick them when smaller, about 8 to 12 inches in length. The seeds will not be fully formed so this will force the plant to continue producing.
Ornamental trees and shrubs: Now is a great time to prune your ornamental trees, but there are a few exceptions which are your flowering plum and flowering cherries of all varieties. Pruning now will not harm them but in future years will make your job harder, as these trees will produce unwanted vertical growth called suckers.
General tree pruning guidelines:
1. Remove all dead wood. Cut back flush with the trunk or branch.
2. Prune out all branches growing inward. Trees should have a cone shape with a pointed top for evergreens and a rounded top for deciduous.
3. Prune out branches so they do not run on each other.
4. Remove suckers and other vertical growth from the center.
Keep in mind to not prune out more than one-third of the tree per year.
Remember you can always take out more, but you can’t put it back.
Hedges: Pruning hedges can be a lot of fun. Over time you can create shapes, create a living security fence and use hedges for borders.
If you have a large hedge over 10 feet tall, consider hiring a gardener to work with you the first year. Once a hedge gets over 10-feet tall and four feet wide there are tricks to get the job done efficiently and safely.
I personally prefer to use hand sheets for small hedges like boxwoods and electric models for large jobs. There are also hedgers that can be put on a pole as an attachment. These are great for big jobs, but I would steer away from them if you have little experience hedging. They are heavy and powerful and unless you are experienced, can cut some big holes that you may not have intended to make.
How to hedge: Cut your sides by first creating a vase shape to insure light reaches your lowest leaves. Only cut this year’s growth. Next, cut your top. To keep it level, go slow in a long smooth motion from the center to the edge, cutting and sweeping your cuttings off as you go, stopping every few feet to remove remaining cuttings with a rake then continue. Next, cut your beveled edge. Creating a bevel will make removing your trimmings easier next time.
When cutting deciduous hedges like privet or bear berry, use caution- if they are taller than you, have a ground person in case you get in trouble. These hedges have very sharp and dangerous thorns that can cause serious injury. Always wear gloves and pants no matter how hot it is.
In case you’re wondering what is the tallest hedge I ever maintained, it was 300 feet long 12 feet wide and 22 feet tall. I used to climb up its center and stand on its top on plywood to do the job with a four-man crew. This hedge can be seen on Google satellite imagery by typing in “Memory Lane West University Place Washington”. It’s hard to miss.
Enjoy your week, keep on growing that food and most of all, enjoy your landscape and have fun.