August Organic Gardening Tasks

This calendar was originally published for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Please note that the world of organics is ever-changing with new products on the market. I suggest you find your local organic nursery and get to know the personnel, ask questions and know what Gardening Zone you are in to purchase your best plant selections.

Summer garden

Summer garden (Photo credit: Downing Street)

  • It may seem warm, but it’s time to prepare for the fall vegetable season. Alternate plant choices in planting beds and prepare areas for additional cool‑season vegetables by adding compost to soil and allow it to settle over several months.
  • Pharaoh ants marching on your kitchen cabinets? Mix boric acid, a minimum amount of water and 1 teaspoon of grape jelly. Place on wax paper out of the reach of children and pets. Ants will disappear in 1 to 2 days.
  • Having grasshopper problems? Mulch bare soil where female grasshoppers lay eggs. If young grasshoppers are visible, spray with garlic/pepper tea or dust affected plants lightly with flour or diatomaceous earth (DE).
  • Spread composted manure around the base of crinum lily to strengthen buds.
  • Hang swags of tansy or Mexican oreganonear doorways as pest deterrents.

    Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

    Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Water lawn and plants at least one inch per week if Mother Nature does not provided moisture. If you have planned for the heat with native plants, many will not need to be watered unless there is an extreme drought or if it is the plant’s first year in the ground. Learn and adhere to water restrictions imposed by your city.
  • For clean eaves on house and shed, spray Cobweb Eliminator and vacuum or sweep. The product will not kill spiders but will make it difficult to reattach a web in the area. Spiders are beneficial to the garden so you should not kill them, just encourage them to move away from the house or shed. Reapply in two months to maintain a clean area.
  • Collect seeds from annuals and perennials for next year’s plantings.
  • Apply a handful of greensand around base of plants that are iron‑deficient (yellowing).
  • Avoid the heat and come inside. Use organic principles inside the house for cleaning. Window cleaner: Add 1/2 teaspoon of liquid dishwasher detergent and 1/2 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water. If you have a waxy buildup from using chemical solutions, add a tablespoon of citrus oil in the first washing mixture. Use baking soda for scouring powder. Don’t want to mix, then try one of the nontoxic, biodegradable cleaners, such as Simple Green.
  • Drench fire ant mounds with 2 tablespoons of pyrethrum and 2 tablespoons of diatomaceous earth (DE) mixed well in a gallon of water. Another solution is spreading dry molasses in the mound area or container.
  • Watch for fall plant sales to fill in blank spots in the garden. During the fall, they will establish a large amount of root growth before next year’s summer heat. Don’t forget, seeds are on sale too!
  • Apply a light dusting of DE, if necessary, to lawn areas for fleas, ticks, chiggers and mites. Begin on the outside perimeter of the garden and work toward the center. Use only 1 to 2 cups of DE per 1,000 square feet. Wear a mask and goggles and apply on a non‑windy day.
  • Companion plant second season of cool‑season veggies: potatoes with nasturtiums or parsnips; lettuces with garlic, onions or strawberries; carrots with brussel sprouts, chives, onions or rosemary; cauliflower with oregano, rosemary or spinach; and, broccoli with bush beans or carrots.
  • Didn’t have time to plant cool season crops in your vegetable beds? Toss out seeds of vetch.  The cover crop will provide nutrients to the soil and deter weeds. In the spring, turn over the first few inches of soil.
  • Before the growing season subsides, fill in sparse lawn areas with buffalo, Bermuda, St. Augustine or zoysia grasses.
  • Mix and spray 1 tablespoon of baking soda in a gallon of water for blackspot on roses.
  • Foliar feed all foliage with fish emulsion and/or seaweed products. Being diligent once a week will prepare plants for winter freezes.
  • Stop deadheading antique roses if you want rose hips during fall and winter for a Vitamin C source in hot tea.

    English: Some rose hips in close-up

    Up close ripe rose hips (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Finish planting cool‑season vegetables, including beets, radishes, peas, and cabbage.

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