Aug. Gardening Checklist: Bugs, Day-Trips and More
With the help of many gardening friends I have attempted to offer on these pages some useful information to help you with your own garden. Gardening is sharing. Any corrections, comments or suggestions are appreciated and will improve future information. Bugs (both good and bad), places to visit, soil care and more are the focus of this NoteStream. Also see our NoteStreams on Flowering Plants, Fruit Trees, Edibles, and Ferns, Lawns, and more.
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The information, dates and techniques in this blog are as accurate as I can currently offer. During the past three decades I have cared for, nurtured and observed tens of thousands of plants.
With the help of many gardening friends I have attempted to offer on these pages some useful information to help you with your own garden. Gardening is sharing. Any corrections, comments or suggestions are appreciated and will improve future information.
Ladybug, Ladybug Fly Away Home....
Beneficial Insects and Wildlife
Giant Whitefly infestations may still be noticeable. However, predators and parasites should also be present within the colonies.
Check immature whiteflies carefully for signs of parasite activity. Flea, grub and cutworm populations may still be doing damage now. Control can be achieved by using various beneficial nematodes. These microscopic worms are applied by mixing them in a water can and drenching the area, then watering well. In the warm weather, spider mites will be noticed on many plants, such as citrus, avocado, pine, juniper, ivy and others. Release beneficial predator mites now for control all summer.
Better With Butter
Pests & Diseases
(See also the information under the individual plants and Beneficial Insects)
Periodically rinsing off the foliage of the plants in your garden during the summer will significantly reduce many pest problems, especially mites and whitefly.
Sunflowers at the country fair in Costa Mesa, Orange County, CA.
Image by Raman Virdi
Places to Visit
Gardens that look terrific almost any time of the year include Sherman Library and Gardens (Corona del Mar),
The Fullerton Arboretum (Fullerton), Los Angeles Arboretum (Arcadia), Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens (San Marino) and Quail Botanical Gardens (Encinitas).
Records, Catalogs, Books and Organizations
If you don’t already have it, this would be the month to buy a copy of the famous book on southern California gardening by Bob Smaus. Titled “52 Weeks in The California Garden”, this book begins with the month of September and is a month-by-month dialogue of the activities of a garden.
This is still a terrific time to attend an educational garden seminar or meeting. Excellent programs are available and most, but not all, are free, require no memberships and no reservations. There is so much going on right now that you will have to pay close attention to keep track of it all.
Continue making notes in your journal now, especially about water, and what plants are coming into bloom and which are going out of bloom. These will be useful to you next year.
We have included this section, because as you know, or will discover with more experience, a good garden begins with the soil.
Investing in the soil, managing the soil and protecting the soil are not afterthoughts in a successful garden, but the foundation. Healthy soil is living and breathing, teaming with earthworms, microorganisms, beneficial fungi, bacteria, microbes and other invisible life. This section, possibly the most important topic of all will, provides some helpful guidance to good soil care.
A thick layer of organic mulch, averaging about two inches, should be maintained on top of the soil just about year-round. This is an excellent month to add additional mulch as needed to maintain this level. Applied now, a thick layer of mulch will cool the root systems from hot summer temperatures, reduce irrigations as much as half this summer, reduce weed growth, and improve both soil life and soil quality.
It All Starts Here
Soil Care (Cont.)
We do not suggest the use of very high analysis fertilizers in a garden, especially phosphorus.
Examples of fertilizers to avoid are synthetic versions with formulations like, 10-55-10, 10-30-10, etc. We don’t even suggest the popular 15-30-15 formula. These formulations will inhibit or even destroy much of the soil life that is so vital to a healthy sustainable soil.
We also suggest that you not use soil-applied systemic fertilizer/insecticide combinations (especially popular with roses). These are very damaging to soil life. Use insecticides only when necessary and even then use the least damaging product available. Many of these products move into the soil and interfere with the invisible soil life.
Soil Care (Cont.)
If you can, begin a compost pile or purchase a compost bin.
Leaves, clippings, kitchen produce scraps, and many other ingredients can be composted and returned to the garden. Home compost is one of the very best ingredients you can add to your soil. The benefits are huge in the areas of disease suppression, increasing beneficial microorganisms, improving soil structure and texture, nutrient retention and nematode suppression. Be sure that before you put a plant into the ground you have considered the soil and are doing all you can to improve it and protect its health.
Water & Irrigation
(See also the information under the individual plants)
Periodically, rinse off the foliage of the plants in your garden during the summer. Larger shrubs, vines and trees will need a spray from a garden hose. This will cleanse the foliage of dust and some pollution. Pest problems will be reduced and the plants will “breathe” easier as well.