Gardening This Weekend: August 31, 2017
By the time you read this it’s going to be September or the next thing to it. Take a quick glance at the things I’m deeming to be your most critical tasks for the next several days.
• Finish planting all leafy and root crops for your fall garden. It’s too late for most other vegetables.
• Sod and seed to start new turf. It needs the time to establish good roots, so you can’t wait much longer.
• Wildflower seeds into lightly prepared soil. Avoid areas where grass will compete, and don’t prepare the soil to excess. Rich, overly nutritious soils result in luxuriant wildflowers that are shy to bloom.
• Trees and large shrubs that were damaged by last weekend’s winds. Remove broken or split branches with clean cuts. Do not climb or rest ladders against vulnerable trees.
• Erratic summer growth from abelias, elaeagnus and other shrubs that have sent out long shoots far beyond their normal canopies.
• Ragged annual beds and patio pots to reshape for a burst of fall growth.
• Turf to promote good fall growth. That might include St. Augustine for the first time in 10 weeks. Temperatures have moderated somewhat and gray leaf spot should be less of a problem.
• Fall vegetable plantings with a high-nitrogen fertilizer to keep plants growing vigorously.
• Patio pots with water-soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer to promote strong growth this fall.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Winter weeds must be prevented before you can actually see them. See related story this issue.
• Chinch bug damage is still showing up in hot, sunny parts of St. Augustine turf. Grass appears dry, but watering doesn’t help. You’ll see small black bugs with irregular white diamonds on their backs where the dying grass adjoins healthy turf. Treat with insecticide labeled for chinch bugs.
• Stinging caterpillars become more prevalent in fall. Learn to recognize puss caterpillars, IO moth caterpillars, Hagg moth caterpillars. In general, it’s best not to handle any caterpillars with fuzz or bristles.
• Snakes may be hiding in piles of debris, especially where it has accumulated from storm damage. Use a long-handled hoe or rake to pull things apart before reaching down to pick up the trash.