Gardeners start your vegetables this month. August is the beginning of nine months of great gardening that includes the fall warm, winter cool and spring warm season crops. By starting early you ensure the best harvests during the fall months.
One requirement for great crops is a full sun exposure. Some gardeners want to bargain when it comes to light. Might they be able to plant in filtered sun or maybe a half day of sun? Some crops like lettuce, collards, cabbage and onions can tolerate these conditions but best yields are still in the full sun.
Next try to improve your soil. With large garden sites this may be difficult but with small gardens you can often mix in compost, peat moss or other sources of organic matter before each planting. Also, have the soil acidity checked. Most plantings need a soil pH of around 6.5. Tests are performed at most University of Florida Extension Offices for free or a minimal charge.
Gardens in containers need plenty of room to grow. One problem with tomatoes is blossom-end rot. This is a physiological disease where the plants cannot take up needed calcium. If the containers are too small for these plants, they cannot take up adequate water and calcium. So give your larger plants big containers and keep them moist.
Speaking of moisture - make sure there is a water supply near by. It is no fun bucketing water to your plantings. Try to have a hose handy to make the watering easy. Some assemble drip or micrrospinkler irrigation systems to take some of the labor out of watering.
Lastly feed your garden. All vegetables need fertilizer. You can choose between organic and traditional fertilizers. Both can help produce good crops when provided regularly. Usually vegetables need feedings every 3 to 4 weeks. You may make feedings easier by applying a slow release fertilizer. These can feed the crops for several months which may be the only feeding they need.
- Many gardens have filled with summer weeds; remove and till the soil for planting.
- Enrich sandy soils and old garden sites with organic soils or organic matter.
- Test soil acidity and adjust the pH if needed before planting in ground and in containers.
- Remove plastic from solarization after treatments and plant immediately.
- Transplants started in July should be ready for the garden during mid to late August.
- Plant quick growing warm season vegetables mid August through early September.
- Seeds of melons and pumpkins must be planted during early August.
- Grow vegetables in large containers with a good potting soil if you have limited space.
- Give tomatoes an extra large container and keep moist to prevent blossom-end rot.
- Groom and feed herbs monthly; shelter container-grown herbs from the daily rains.
- Mints in containers that stop growing may only need dividing and more fertilizer.
- Clean containers between crops and add fresh potting soil.
- Vegetables that survived the summer may continue into fall; keep moist and fertilize.
- Plant flowers that attract pollinators among the vegetables to obtain better fruit set.
- Where possible plant nematode resistant tomato and other vegetable varieties.
- Open wide, 8 inch or deeper holes in nematode infested sties and fill with fresh pest free soil.
- Begin staking or trellising taller growing crops when young.
- Mulch new plantings to conserve water and promote better plant growth.
- Lawns may begin to look yellow green by mid summer; apply a feeding where possible.
- Check local regulations as some prohibit feeding lawns during the summer.
- Mow frequently and at the recommended height; sharpen dull mower blades.
- Declining yellow grass may be take-all root rot; try regreening with a liquid fertilizer.
- Fill bare areas with sod, plugs or seed to take advantage of the good growing weather.
- Wait until fall to sod shady areas to prevent decline due to excessive moisture.
- New lawns are susceptible to fungal leaf spots; apply a fungicide to help reduce decline.
- Stay alert to sod webworm and chinch bugs causing lawns to decline; treat as needed.
- Have problem turf samples diagnosed at your local University of Florida Extension Office.
- Mushrooms are common in lawns after rains; remove as needed.
- Smelly mushrooms are often called stinkhorns; they should be considered poisonous.
- Allowing your lawn to wilt a little between waterings helps deepen the root system.
- Raise or replace pop-up sprinkler heads that don't reach far enough above the sod.
- Control weeds that are filling bare spots and over growing the good grass.
- Consider another ground cover for hard to maintain and problem turf areas
- Landscape plantings make lots of growth during summer; prune to keep in bounds.
- Thinning out excessive growth can help many shrubs avoid disease problems.
- Many shrubs & flowers need a summer feeding to maintain green foliage and growth.
- Some localities prohibit landscape fertilizer applications until October.
- Weeds grow out of control during summer; remove to prevent seeding and more weeds.
- Renew mulch layers to control weeds: keep them back a few inches from stems and trunks.
- Summer rains can cause container plants to decline; check for proper drainage.
- Replace annuals and perennials with heat tolerant selections.
- Do not count on summer rains to water new plantings; most need daily hand watering.
- Use a slow release fertilizer that feeds the plantings for several months.
- Palms are best fertilized with products made for their needs and contain minor nutrients.
- Don't let vines climb trees and shrubs; train them to arbors and trellises.
- Pruning time is over for azaleas, camellias and gardenias that are forming flowers buds.
- Give palms a break; only remove the dead fronds and old flower heads.
- Complete pruning of poinsettias, bougainvillea, and wisteria by month's end.
- Divide bromeliads, Shasta daises, day lilies and other landscape perennials.
- Pinch the tips of chrysanthemums in early August to grow well-branched compact plants.
Foliage & house plant care:
- Time to prepare foliage plants for fall; reshape and trim to encourage new growth.
- Transplant root bound and poorly drained foliage plants.
- Check for mealy bugs, scales and mites; control with natural soap or oil insecticides.
- Make cuttings of your favorite plants.
- Feed all foliage plants with a slow release fertilizer.
- Look for new plants to add to the collection.
- Indoor plants accumulate dust like furniture; rise with water or a mild soapy solution.
- Move light starved plants outdoors to a shady location.
- Enjoy orchids and bromeliads indoors when in bloom, then move then outside to the shade.
- Divide clump forming foliage plants like spathiphyllum and sansevieria.
August 2020 Plantings
Vegetables: Cantaloupe, collard, corn, cucumber, eggplant, lima bean, okra, pepper, pumpkin, snap bean, southern pea, squash, tomato and watermelon
Herbs: Anise, basil, bay laurel, chive, dill, ginger, lemon balm, Mexican tarragon, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram and thyme.
Bulbs type plants: African iris, agapanthus, amaryllis, bulbine, canna, crinum, day lily, gladiolus, gloriosa lily, kaffir lily, Louisiana iris, society garlic, rain lily and walking iris.