Austin Gardening: What to Do in August

August 16, 2012by Brian Talley

August.Gardening.TipsThe dog days of summer are upon us in Central Texas, which means hundred-plus degree days, drought conditions, and water-use restrictions. What’s a heat-exhausted gardener to do?

The best August advice, complements of Southwest Austin’s Natural Gardener, is to just let the landscape rest. “We are entering our least productive season for planting here in Central Texas, except for the following tough summer vegetables,” says the website. “Accordingly, the planting recommendations are slim this month. Your best bet is to survive through the heat while you plan for the fall garden!”

Gardening To Do List for August

Prepare and plant beds for the fall vegetable garden.

Plant vegetable seeds. Beans, corn, cucumber, garlic, potatoes, shallot, summer squash. EARLY AUGUST: Okra, black-eyed peas, New Zealand and Malabar spinach, winter squash.

– Plant these vegetable seeds in pots or flats. Keep these “cool.” Give them bright sun, but perhaps some shade from the hottest afternoon sun, or an “awning” made of 30% shade cloth. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, chard, Chinese cabbage, fennel, kale. LATE AUGUST: Collards, endive, head and leaf lettuce, mustard.

Plant vegetable plants: Okra, New Zealand or Malabar spinach, summer or winter squash.

Plant herb plants: Mexican mint marigold, mints, oregano, rosemary, sage, wormwood (artemesia).

Plant annual flower/ornamental plants: Blue daze, celosias (cockscomb or plume), zinnia.

Plant perennial plants: Ornamental grasses, sedum.

Water deeply. Concentrate on trees, newly planted and established ones. Anytime we go for four to six weeks without at least an inch of rain, established trees need water. Trees less than two years in the ground need water every one to two weeks, depending on the soil, weather, and species of tree. Place a bubbler, a small sprinkler, or a soaker hose at the dripline of the tree (the area on the ground – a circle – corresponding to the furthest reaches of the branches above), and water for 30 – 60 minutes or more with a low flow of water.

Adjust your watering schedule depending on your soil and weather conditions. Rocky Hill Country soil will dry out much faster than clayey Blackland Prairie soil. Your finger is your best moisture meter: dig down as deeply as you can to feel the soil around the roots before watering. If you find that water runs off of the soil easily, and doesn’t percolate well, use Lady Bug Terra Tonic or Medina Soil Activator. These products help the soil to become more permeable, among other benefits. And don’t forget the shrubs – they need attention, too.

Conserve water. Any time you water, use only sprinklers that spray the least amount of water into the air, where it is lost to evaporation. Water early in the morning or late in the evening for the same reason. In addition, the more water on the leaves, the greater the chances of fungal problems on the leaves. Water on the leaves while the sun is out can cause burning of the foliage.

Consider investing in soaker hoses and/or a drip system. These watering systems put the water right where it’s needed – in the soil and next to the plant – rather than wasting the water into the air. Of course, this saves on the water bill, too, and again – reduces the chances of diseases on the plants.

Mulch, mulch, mulch! If you haven’t done so already, be sure all bare soil is covered with mulch, or compost with mulch on top. Avoid putting mulch or compost onto plant stems. Use about three inches total wherever possible.

Continue spraying all plants with seaweed regularly. Seaweed, with all its trace elements and hormones, can do more to help plants survive the heat than anything else, besides water and mulch. Spray on and under the leaves, early morning or late evening.

Release Trichogramma wasps to reduce or prevent fall webworms in pecan trees. Trichogramma wasps are tiny predators which eat the webworm egg before it becomes a pest. Because the population of webworms in August is often the most damaging, you may want to release three rounds of the wasps, two weeks apart, starting in early August.

Thank you, Natural Gardener! Check out the website’s information section for additional information. Or, take a trip to see them!

Natural Gardener in Southwest AustinStore Hours:

Mon-Sat: 8 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

(Hours Change Seasonally)

Address:

8648 Old Bee Caves Road

Austin, Texas 78735

Phone Number: (512) 288-6113

Directions to the Natural Gardener:

This gardening store is relatively close for residents of Legend Oaks, the Village at Western Oaks, Sendera, and Olympic Heights. For those coming from other parts of Austin, just avoid visiting the Natural Gardener during rush hour traffic!

From South Austin:

Take Hwy 290/Hwy 71 into Oak Hill. When you reach the “Y”, take Hwy 71 West. Go about 1 mile to the traffic light at Fletcher. Turn right onto Fletcher and go about 1/4 mile until it dead ends into Old Bee Caves Road. Turn left onto Old Bee Caves Road and go 1/2 to 3/4 mile. The Natural Gardener is on the right.

From North and Northwest Austin:

Heading south on MoPac, take the Southwest Parkway exit. Turn right onto Southwest Parkway. Check the odometer, go 4.5 miles. You will pass Travis Country West and turn left onto Travis Cook Road. Go about 1/2 mile until it dead ends into Old Bee Caves Road. The Natural Gardener is at that intersection on the right.

Happy Gardening!

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