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Garden Primer, Part Nine: Tips for Tending to Your August Garden
BY Charlie Dobbin | August 2nd, 2022
Oh August — the month for holidays and just plain relaxation! If you are one of those lucky ones going away this month, make sure you’ve left someone reliable in charge of watering both your houseplants and your outdoor garden. Food crops in particular require consistent moisture in order to achieve full production.
Taking some time to just be outside in nature is something we can all take advantage of. From our immune systems to our blood pressure, to our mood —and even our level of creativity benefits from a walk outside.
It’s been hot, hot, hot at my home in Prince Edward County. As a result, I’ve been a bit sluggish when looking at the various garden chores on my list. However, here’s what I’m up to in my garden:
- The garlic was looking just right. About 30-40 per cent of the leaves had turned yellow so it was time to grab the digging fork and see exactly what was going on underground. I’m happy to report I harvested about eight pounds of gorgeous garlic bulbs from an initial planting of one pound last fall. Finding the perfect drying location was not easy since garlic needs to hang (with roots and stems attached) in a dark, well-ventilated spot for about two weeks to achieve optimal flavour. On screens, tucked under my deck is where they are drying now.
- Growing our food turns out to be a great inflation-fighting tactic. Grocery store prices, even for local produce, are at record levels. So far, we’ve been enjoying lots of kale (more on kale later), sweet fresh edible pod peas, beans and even baby carrots when we went out to thin the rows! The tomatoes are growing gangbusters. It seems no matter how well I stake them the wind keeps blowing them around. Trimming away some of the excess foliage is still on my list.
- Kale has been touted as a super food and this year we’re really getting the hang of using it in just about everything. Example: kale chips are easy to make. Lightly oil whole kale leaves with your hands, then place on parchment paper with a sprinkle of salt, in a 325 F oven. Ten or so minutes in the oven and you’re munching on a delectable treat.
- I planted Lady in Red salvia seeds earlier this spring. The annual plants are not just lovely and low maintenance, it also turns out they are a real winner for attracting hummingbirds too.
- Considering how hot it’s been, I’ve been turning my eyes inside to do some delayed houseplant care. I’m transplanting any plants that have been too long in the same pot (and have roots growing out through the bottom drainage holes). This is also an excellent last chance to fertilize before winter sets in. An all-purpose fertilizer for the green foliage plants (like 10-10-10), and a flowering plant fertilizer (high middle number, like 15-30-15) for those I want to encourage flowers. My orchids get their own special blend. I mix it up in a pail and submerge the plants (pot and all) into the room-temperature water. I think they actually purr after this treatment.
- Tomorrow, I’m going to order a load of pine bark mulch. Adding more mulch on top of existing mulch to have a 2-4 inch layer will help to conserve water and keep the soil cool for the rest of the summer. Added benefits include reducing weeds. Plus, where I garden the expensive triple mix is less likely to blow away in winter wind!
Charlie Dobbin hosts The Garden Show With Charlie Dobbin on Zoomer Radio AM740 (a ZoomerMedia property) every Saturday at 9 a.m., EST.