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Garden Notes for August

Protect Yourself from Heat

 It is important to protect yourself when out working in the garden in the hottest part of the day. The best is to avoid working during the peak heat periods. Work early in the morning or late in the evening and avoid working in mid-day when temperatures are at their hottest. Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water; any shady spot will do but air conditioning is always best. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, as these will cause your body to lose more water. Wear light-colored, loose fitting clothing and a hat. Some smart choices like these will help you avoid heat stress and make gardening safe for you and your family.

 Garden Cleanup

Remember last year when you said, “I’m going to have a better garden next year.” The best way to improve is to make notes of any particularly productive or substandard crops and whatever problems you may have encountered. Such information can be useful during garden-planning time next spring.

Clean up any plant material that is not producing. Remove diseased or insect-infected plants from your garden; they can harbor overwintering stages of disease and insect pests. If you leave this plant material in your garden, you are leaving diseases and insects that will begin to reproduce again next spring and add to next year’s pest problem.

Insects such as cucumber beetles, squash bugs, Colorado potato beetles, and European corn borers pass the winter in debris left in the garden. Remove all dead plant material, and compost it or plow it under. This will limit your pest population next year to the insects that migrate into the garden.

Manure and Soil Conditioning

 Now is a good time to get your soil ready for next year. If you plan to use manure as a soil conditioner, get in touch with your supplier. Do not apply more than three inches of manure for an average garden at one season. Till it under and you can plant a cover crop if desired. However, manure can be a source of weed seed so try to get manure that has been composted. Composting reduces the number of viable weed seeds and hours of pulling weeds.

Other Chores

Plant no later than August 15 for Snap beans and Irish potatoes (seed can be sprouted two to three weeks before planting); August 31 for Cucumbers and squash; plant varieties resistant to downy mildew. In order to calculate the planting date, determine the frost date and count back the number of days to maturity plus 18 days for harvest of the crop. If snap beans mature in 55 days and your frost date is November 15, you should plant on or before September 3. Start plants for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale and onions in a half-shaded area for setting out in September.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Brenda Jackson at Murray County Extension at 706-695-3031 or email .