Well, it’s summer and the heat and humidity team up with drought and rainstorms to leave the garden looking a little beaten and worn. This season has been ok so far, but mildew, bugs and leaf spots are showing up.
What to do now? Groom and remove diseased leaves and stems to reduce the spread or recurrence of plant health problems. Keep the vegetable garden clear of spent plants and dying foliage. Fall crops like broccoli, beets and collard greens can be planted now, especially in spots previously occupied by unrelated plants like peas, beans or lettuce.
Most gardens and lawns need about 1 inch of rain per week between April and September. Place a rain gauge in your garden. Check and empty it once a week to see if you need to supplement with water. Avoid overhead watering whenever possible.
Many fungus diseases are spread by water-splash. Soaker hoses help prevent diseases and conserve water, too, by soaking the root zone slowly. Prune roses to allow air circulation.
Collect seeds from flowering plants to save and plant next year. Larkspur, mallow, nigella, foxglove and cleome are all informal looking and fit in well with a perennial border. These seeds can be scattered in August for bloom the following year. Leave seed heads on perennials to reseed and to feed songbirds.
Divide spring-blooming perennials like iris, peony and oriental poppy at this time. Replant with added compost, or humus, and water well for the rest of the season.
August reseeding of lawn bare spots gives new grass seedlings time to develop before winter. Seed according to directions, scatter straw lightly over the seed and keep watered.