Sunday, October 24, 2021

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Things to do in the garden in August

Greetings everyone and thanks again for your following. Enjoy your week. Keep on growing yor own food. And most of all, enjoy your landscape and have fun.

August is an important month. It’s when most annuals, fruits, and vegetables begin to reach peak production.

Weeding is important all the time, but all the more so in August as plants need all the available water and food to support end-of-season production. Weeds provide too much competition for these resources. Weed now, before weeds go to seed, to help with weed control in the fall and next spring.

Harvesting: As plants get closer to the 90- and 120-day old mark they will peak in production and growth will 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 they’re smaller, about 8 to 12 inches in length. The seeds will not be fully formed so this will force the plant to continue to produce. All of your plants will slow growing naturally in about 15 days and cease production in 30 days.

Ornamental trees and shrubs: Now is a great time to prune your ornamental trees, with a few exceptions. Ornamental plums and cherries will put out weak vertical growth if pruned now. This is a great time for just about everything else.

General pruning guidelines: Unless you are intentionally pruning your trees into an unnatural or espaliered shape, or you are pruning a Japanese maple, do the following from first to last.

1. Remove all dead wood. Make cuts flush with the trunk or branch.

2. Prune out all branches growing inward. Trees should have an upwards cone shape with a pointed top for evergreens and a rounded top for deciduous.

3. Prune out branches so they do not rub on each other.

4. Remove suckers and other vertical growth from the center.

Keep in mind not to prune out more than one third of the tree per year. And remember: You can always take out more, but you can’t put it back.

Prune fruit trees in March or early April before the buds open, or just after your harvest.

Hedges: Pruning hedges can be a lot of fun. Over time you can create shapes or 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 ten feet tall and four feet wide there are tricks to get the job done efficiently and safely.

I used to bid large hedge jobs by calculating length x width x $0.65 per sq ft. If the hedge was over 16 feet tall and 7 feet wide, I would occasionally change that price due to the need for special equipment such a Z-lift.

Personally, I prefer hand shears for small hedges like boxwoods, and electric hedge trimmers for large jobs. There are also hedgers that can be mounted as an attachment on a pole. 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 you can cut easily cut bigger holes than you intend.

How to hedge: Cut the sides first, only cutting this year’s growth. Create a vase shape so light reaches the lowest leaves.

Cut the top next. Keep it level by going slowly and using a long smooth motion from the center to the edge, cutting and sweeping cuttings off as you go. Stop every few feet to remove cuttings with a rake and then continue.

Next cut a beveled edge. If your hedge didn’t have a bevel before this, it will make removing trimmings easier next time.

Use caution when cutting deciduous hedges like privet or bearberry. If the hedge is taller than you are, have a ground person there 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, the tallest hedge I ever maintained was 300 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 22 feet tall. I used to climb up the center and stand on top on a piece of plywood to do the job. We used a four-man crew.

This hedge can be seen on Google satellite imagery by typing in “Memory Lane West, University Place, Washington, 98446.” It’s hard to miss.

The longest was almost 1 mile long and 6 feet high. It can be seen on Google satellite imaging surrounding a large estate in Graham, Washington, off of Lake Kapowsin Highway.

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