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- Weed, tip-prune, pinch and deadhead flowers as usual.
- Water if there hasn't been enough rain. Seeds need constant moisture, seedlings need regular gentle waterings, and the vegetable patch needs an inch a week. Any shrubs and trees set out this past year also need water to tide them through dry periods.
- Stake up tall plants that might blow over during a storm (like sunflowers and peppers). Anything stiff and inexpensive will do, just to give additional support.
- Lightning kills more people each year than either tornadoes or hurricanes. Remember the "30-30" rule to be safe during the late summer storms: When you see lightning, count until you hear the thunder. If it takes less than 30 seconds, seek shelter immediately. Then wait 30 minutes after the last thunder before heading back outside .
Year-Round Kitchen Garden:
- Why think about winter when the vegetable garden is pumping out summer favorites? Because vegetables for winter and early spring harvests next year must be planted now. The trick for mid-winter harvests is growing the plants large enough to withstand winter's hardships. It is a matter of timing. Choosing hardy varieties is also critical. Try 'January King' cabbage, brussels sprouts, 'Winterkeeper' beets, 'Laura' leeks, 'Tyee' spinach, and a variety of kales and mustards. Enjoy the summer bounty now, but remember that gardening is for the future. It will be winter, too soon.
- Toward the middle of the month, begin planting fall crops like beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, chard, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, radish, rutabaga, spinach and turnips. In our zone, direct seeding vs. growing seedlings is a toss-up (except for root crops and spinach, which are best direct seeded). Plant out transplants of Brussels sprouts and hardy cabbages. Leek transplants will mature in early spring.
- You can also plant a last round of summer veggies during the beginning of the month, but pick varieties that mature quickly. Locally, folks plant bush beans, cucumbers and squash.
- Harvest whatever produce is ready a couple times every week. Don't let cucumbers, squash, okra and beans get away from you - in this case, bigger certainly isn't better. Keep your basil pinched back, don't let flowers form. Remember, pesto freezes nicely.
- Sidedress peppers and eggplants with an organic fertilizer. They are voracious feeders.
- Shade and water transplants. If you direct seed, keep that seedbed evenly moist, which may mean sprinkling lightly a couple of times a day at first. A light cover of straw mulch helps, too.
- Evaluate your vegetable patch and be ruthless about it. Pull out and compost plants that have stopped producing, including beans, summer squash and cucumbers.
- Cut back dying canes from blackberries and raspberries.
- Weed the blueberry patch, trim dead branches and remove bird netting that was put up in July.
Woody and Ornamental:
- Wait until after the leaves fall before fertilizing shrubs. Encouraging growth now sets plants up for stress when temperatures drop in the fall.
- Before the middle of the month, get any summer shaping on fruit trees and summer-blooming shrubs, but hold off on any major pruning until temperatures have cooled down in the fall.
Soil and Maintenance:
- If you are not composting, give it a try. Begin thinking about a compost area now, so you'll be ready when the leaves drop this fall. Composting is the foundation for a successful organic garden, it's inexpensive, good for the environment, and a lot of fun.
- Turn established compost piles once this month. Compost is ready when the composted materials have broken down enough that you can't readily recognize what they were. A "mature" pile usually looks like a rich soil, has a sweet smell and does not feel hot to the touch.
- If you have a worm compost container, make sure your worm herd stays cool and moist during the hot days of summer. Add some moistened high carbon bedding (Use chopped dry leaves and/or torn newspaper) whenever you add kitchen scraps, especially after a melon binge when you've got lots of rinds.
- Brown lawns are not necessarily dead (or ugly!). Cool climate lawn grasses that go dormant in summer (including bluegrass and fescues) will turn green again after the first significant rain. If green grass is desired, give it a deep drink twice a week instead of little sips every day.
Critters Good and Otherwise
- Birds will be thankful for sunflowers that are allowed to develop seed on their tall stalks. As the seeds mature, watch the spiraling symmetry of nature's design unfold on the flower's disk.
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