Five Gardening Tasks for the Dog Days of August
1. Divide your bearded irises.
2. Apply beneficial nematodes to your lawn.
3. Harvest your onions.
4. Save seeds from your flowers and vegetables.
5. Plant autumn greens.
Though you and the dog may prefer to lounge in the shade this time of year, you’ll want to take at least a little time away from your hammock and lemonade to accomplish the following chores. The dog, meanwhile, can continue to lounge!
If your bearded irises have become overcrowded, you can divide them now. After digging them up and pulling their rhizomes apart, remove any rotted sections. Then set your divisions about 1 foot apart.
You’ll want to plant them shallowly so that the top of each rhizome remains just above the surface of the soil. If the aforementioned dog is inclined to digging in your flower beds, you may want to temporarily pin the rhizomes down with the large staples which also are used to hold landscaping fabric in place.
Cut back the iris blades (leaves) into fans about 4 to 6 inches high, so the plants can concentrate their energy on establishing roots rather than sustaining foliage.
To sustain your lawn’s green, you may need to get rid of some grubs. Late summer generally is the best time to apply beneficial nematodes which can hunt down those grubs before they hatch into beetles next summer. Apply the nematodes in early morning or evening of a day when the soil is already moist.
Follow the directions which came with them, mixing them with the recommended amount of water and spraying them into your lawn. Afterwards, irrigate that turf so the nematodes will be washed beneath the surface.
Speaking of surface appearances, in late summer the onions you planted in your vegetable garden will appear to flop. Their foliage will no longer stand at attention but slouch sideways instead. Fortunately, this particular sort of flop doesn’t indicate failure but success. It means that the onions are ready for harvest.
Yank them up and spread them out in a warm, dry location—such as a shed or garage floor—to “cure” for a few weeks. Once their stems are dry, trim off their roots and cut back the stems to 1 inch. Then store the onions in an airy container, such as a mesh bag or bushel basket in a cool, dark location.
If you especially liked some of the vegetables and flowers you grew this year, consider saving seeds from them. For more details on that, see “Saving Money by Saving Seeds.”
You actually may want to sow a few just now to provide you with fall crops. Plants such as lettuces, spinaches, etc., thrive in cool temperatures and can keep you supplied with salads right up until the advent of winter. Perhaps even until actual Advent, if you plant them in a cold frame to keep them protected after the snows begin.
But who wants to think about winter? For now, it’s back to the hammock!