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August Gardening Tips

Attracting Butterflies with Allium

A garden rich with butterflies and other pollinators is a sign of a healthier environment and adds to the visual experience with movement and color. Seek out plants that are more attractive to pollinators, such as native species and old-fashioned varieties. Strive to provide a succession of flowers from spring through fall. Some of my favorite early blooming plants that attract pollinators include Amelanchier, Apples and Violets. There are many choices for mid-summer, such as alliums, echinacea, butterfly milkweed, phlox, joe-pye weed and anise hyssop. For later season flowers, try clethra, asters, and goldenrod. Provide better habitat by creating vertical layers of trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses. When valuable host plants, such as wild cherry, oak and willow, are adjacent to nectar-producing ones, butterflies can lay their eggs successfully on plants that will support caterpillars and enable future butterfly generations.

Continue deadheading perennials as their flowers fade to encourage longer and repeating blooms.

Cut back entire perennial plants that look scraggly or overgrown, to encourage new healthy foliage and possibly more flowers.

Allow some short-lived perennials, annuals and biennials, such as Foxglove, Columbine, Campanula, Allyssum, Cosmos & Cleome, to set seed and self sow,.

Water wisely. If you let your established lawn go dormant during the hot weather, it will green up again when cool weather returns. Prioritize your water use, focusing first on new and precious plantings, and apply water to the roots slowly and deeply. Use a rain gauge to keep an eye on how much it has rained, keeping in mind that gardens typically need 1" water per week. If your town has a water ban, you can save water from hand washing or dehumidifiers to reuse in your garden.

Consider adding more mulch where it has become thin. This will help maintain moisture and reduce weeds. However, avoid adding excess mulch. Keep it away from the stems or crown of all plants, and aim for a depth of no more than 2-4". Remove old mulch before adding more where there is already sufficient depth.

In the Veggie Garden:

During the first week of August, sow more seeds for fall harvesting: peas, chard, arugula, spinach, turnips, beets, carrots, snap beans, summer squash, cucumber and lettuce.

Check veggies daily and harvest when small.

Snip herbs regularly and discourage the formation of flowers with regular pinching to keep them growing longer and bushier.

Extra tomatoes? You can throw them whole, skin and all, into a ziplock bag and store in the freezer till ready to use. Or try drying them in the oven or dehydrator for homemade "sun-dried" tomatoes that burst with flavor.

Dig potatoes after the tops have died back. Each them while new, or harden them off for longer storage by leaving them in a cool, dark spot. Do not rinse off the dirt before storing.

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