Rohde’s August Organic Gardening Calendar
We are in USDA Cold Hardiness Zone 8a with an annual minimum temperature of 15 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit and in Texas AgriLife Extension District 4 (East Region) - North (Dallas).
The latest (July 8, 2010) NOAA ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) Diagnostic Discussion issued by the Climate Prediction Center (CPS) / NCEP (National Centers for Environmental Prediction) says that the majority of models (weather guessing computer simulations) now predict La Niña conditions to develop during June-August 2010 and to continue through early 2011.
The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center at Camp Springs Md, in their “Summary of the (Seasonal Climate) Outlook for Non-Technical Users (Ha-Ha!) for July 15 2010 says in summation that:
- Through October 2010, we should have above normal temperatures during the summer from the Desert Southwest, extending eastward into West Texas and for the entire eastern half of the United States east of the Great Plains. We should also have above average precipitation for the Gulf and Southern Atlantic coasts.
- Through Winter-Spring of 2010-2011, with the passing of the Atlantic tropical storm season and the increasing likelihood of La Niña conditions, above normal temperatures are favored for a region stretching from the Southern U.S. to the Northeast, and below average precipitation amounts across most of the Southern U.S., especially in the southeast. La Niña should dissipate during the summer of 2011.
The Climate Computer Models give a 50% chance of La Niña development during the next three-month season, AugSepOctober 2010, and approximately a 70% chance by the end of the year. Along with the characteristic weather conditions associated with La Niña, Decadal Temperature Trends, Decadal Precipitation Trends (10, 20, 30 year or so, semi-regular climate changes based on historical patterns), and the NOAA’s forecast of an active Atlantic tropical storm season, affect these predictions.
August is here along with the hundred degree temperatures. If you are vegetable gardening, then you’ve got seeds to sow. It’s the last month to lay warm season sod or seeds for your yard to get them established before winter. It’s also the month to plant fall blooming flowers, and sow spring flowering wildflowers.
Otherwise just keep everything alive till it cools off and rains return.
If you are planning on doing a fall garden, this month is a good month to get started. Your spring tomatoes, beans, squash and peppers are probably matured, spent, buggy, and dried up in the heat. You must pull them out and bury them in your compost pile, or throw out to prevent any bugs or disease from finding your new plants. Exceptions would be for okra, cherry tomatoes and pole beans if they still look good. You can also wait on tomatoes if they still have lots of large fruit. Add new compost and fertilizer, refresh the mulch. Horticultural corn meal should help with early blight on your tomatoes or other fungal problems. If you haven’t done so this year, adding 10, 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet of greensand will increase iron in the soil if your spring plants seemed chlorotic.
If you’re not planting a fall garden or letting the spring garden go on, don’t leave the beds baron. Leaving the mulch on the beds is ok, but a cover crop would be better. While we don’t carry summer cover crops, black eyed peas or buckwheat would be recommended. Don’t let them go to seed though. We will carry winter cover crop seed of Elbon Rye, Crimson Clove, and Hairy Vetch. These can be planted in September or October.
Fall garden planting dates are based on how long it takes the vegetable to reach harvest, versus the time to the first average freeze date, and the temperature need to set fruit. Some vegetables need cooler weather to set fruit like tomatoes. With our wacky El/La Niño’s, Niña’s, and Hurricanes, you may get by planting earlier or later. Experiment; take a chance, if you have the room, space plantings out over several weeks, before and after standard planting times. Hard core gardeners keep logs and record the particulars; rainfall, temperatures, soil conditions, hours of sunlight, etc. to give them an idea of when to plant for their area. The rest of us just go by what someone tells them to do in one of these gardening calendars. These recommendations are derived from five or more planting guides covering Dallas/Ft. Worth and neighboring regions. They are all Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service sources, but even then, they can differ from a few days to a month or so (just to keep us guessing is suppose).
Generally you will plant seeds earlier in the planting period and transplants in the later. We have some seeds now, but the transplants will not be available till September – October.
Planting Dates for Seeds/(S) unless stated for Plants/(T)
- Bush Beans, Snap Lima and Yellow, and Pinto Beans: Middle of August to middle of September.
- Pole Beans, Snap and Lima: Plant by first half of August.
- Broccoli: Sow seeds first half of August. Transplants last week in August through first week in September.
- Brussels Sprouts: Sow seeds first half of August. Transplants last week in August through first week in September.
- Melons, Cantaloupe and Watermelon: Through first week of August.
- Carrots: Through out the month of August.
- Cauliflower: Sow seeds first half of August. Transplants last half of August through first week in September.
- Corn: First half of August.
- Cucumber: August through first week of September.
- Eggplant: Maybe too late, but one source allows transplants till last week in August.
- Okra: First three weeks of August.
- English Peas: Maybe from last week in August, differently through September and maybe through October.
- Southern, Black eye Peas: August through first week in September.
- Peppers, Hot and Bell: Maybe through first three weeks in August, but use transplants. July would have been better.
- Squash, Summer and Winter: First three weeks of August.
- Tomatoes: Maybe through first three weeks of August, but use transplants. July would have been better. You can try to grow cuttings from your spring plants as transplants can be hard to find now.
- Cabbage, both Chinese and Regular: Seeds in first half of August. Transplants in last half of August.
- Collard Greens: Last half of August to mid September.
- Kale: Last week in August through third week in September.
- Kohlrabi: First three weeks in August.
- Lettuce: Second week in August through first week in September.
- Mustard Greens: August through first week in September.
- Parsley: August through first few days in October.
- Swiss Chard: August to middle of September.
- Turnip Greens: Third week in August through October.
Harvest your crops when ripe or a little under ripe, to keep the plants producing in the attempt to achieve ripe fruit and viable seeds for the continuation of the species.
Tomatoes keep longer if picked before they are fully ripe, when still a little green. Let tomatoes ripen in the kitchen out of the sun. Don’t refrigerate the tomatoes before they are ripe. If you do they will never develop all of their flavors. After they ripen you can store them in the fridge for a few days. Too long and they will become mealy.
Plant warm season annual herbs.
Like most perennial transplants, you can plant perennial herb anytime. Some herbs also do well in pots and mixed in with flowers and vegetables.
We carry over 130 varieties of herbs throughout the spring, summer, and fall. All are not available at any one time. Best to come in and see what we have.
We will not have all of the flowers we normally carry at any one time, but we try to carry what we can get that is appropriate for the season and for our location. We also try to carry the unusual you wouldn’t normally find in the mass market stores. You are best off coming by weekly to see what comes in.
Sow cool-season flowers indoors, or in well-prepared areas of the garden, for transplanting outside during mid-to-late fall.
Plant fall flowering annuals now. You can buy plants that are in bud, but don’t buy them while flowering. Flowers will consume too much of the plant’s energy that is needed in establishing roots and foliage. If you have too, pluck the flowers off.
Fall blooming perennial transplants will need to be planted as soon as possible to ensure they are established to give good flowering in the fall.
You can still plant tropical plants. They are planted as annuals here. If planted in pots, you can bring them inside during the winter:
Sow seeds for spring flowering wildflowers now through the beginning of November to give the plants time to develop good roots for flower production.
Wildflowers need six or more hours of sun. They usually don’t need additional fertilizing. They are not hand fertilized in the wild, just what’s already in the soil. After they flower, allow the seeds to develop and disperse before mowing. Eventually they will spread and fill in like the pictures in “Texas Highways” magazine.
Pinch tips of new shoots of tall, lanky plants, particularly fall blooming plants, to encourage denser branching to give a bushier plant: Begonias, coleus, chrysanthemums (mums), fall asters, impatiens, and phlox.
Pinch off dead flowers on annuals before they set seed may encourage more flowering.
Watch for snails, slugs, and pillbugs on hostas, begonias and other tender plants. Treat with baits, traps, Sluggo, and copper strips around valuable plants or pots. Garlic-pepper tea spray and pine needle mulch may repel slugs and snails. A multiple method approach should always work better than just using one method.
Water container plants at least once and maybe twice a day in this heat. This is when you are glad you used our Green Sense “Solid Water”, water absorbing polymer crystals gel stuff in the potting mix to keep the soil moist longer. My hanging pots in the shade last a couple of days in this heat with no problems.
Prune hydrangeas if you need to, right after blooming. Next year’s flower buds form during the remaining summer to early fall.
This may be the last good time to plant Ornamental grasses so they can become established for the winter. We may not have all of these now but some to consider are:
Colorful Fall Foliage
- Blue Oat Grass Helictotrichon sempervirens Zones 4-9
- Feather reed grass Calamagrostis x acutiflora Zones 4 - 9 (Stricta)
- Frost grass Spodiopogon sibericus Zones 3 - 8
- Japanese Forest Grass Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' Zones 5 - 9
- Prairie dropseed Sporobolus heterolepis Zones 3 - 9
- Red Switch Grass Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah' Zones 5 - 9
- Tall moor grass Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea Zones 5-9
- Vetiver Vetiveria zizanioides
- Fountain Grass Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Moudry' 4 - 9
- Pink Muhly Muhlenbergia capillaris Zones 7 - 11
- Ruby Grass Rhynchelytrum repens Zones 9 - 10
Red Foliage Throughout Season
- Flame Grass Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurascens' Zones 3 - 8
- Fountain Grass Pennisetum 'Burgundy Giant' and 'Rubrum' Zones 4 – 9
- Phormium Phormium (various) Zones 9 – 10
- Red Hood Sedge Uncinia rubra Zones 8 – 11
Trees, Shrubs and Vines
Container grown plants can be planted anytime, but during the summer you must be diligent with watering the root ball to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Automatic lawn sprinklers are usually the number one killer of newly planted plants by overwatering, but in this heat, it will probably not be enough. Check the root ball with your finger if you can stick it in the ground to feel for moisture four to six inches down, or use a stick. Do this everyday till you get a feel on how often to water. It may be everyday for small plants. If the stick is hard to push in, the soil may be too dry. If it’s easy, it may still be moist enough. Look at the stick to see if it has moisture stains on it. You will have to check your plants, trees particularly, for a year, maybe two. Remember, overwatering is just as bad or worst than under watering.
Use Green Sense Kelp Extract drench for its root growth promoting compounds.
Definitely mulch the area around the plants but not up against the plants, this will cause rot.
Normally you wait till January or February to prune when the plants are dormant. You can mark limbs that need pruning now with paint or strips of cloth wrapped around the limbs. Prune if you need to, due to damage or danger. If the weather is hot and dry enough, you may be able to prune oaks without fear of the oak decline disease since disease spores may not be present. I don’t know about the Sap Beetle disease carrier though. Still, immediately cover fresh cuts with Green Sense Tree Goop to keep any sap beetles away.
Prune the vigorous-growing shrubs like pyracantha, photinia, elaeagnus, privet, or ligustrum to keep them looking good.
Pests and Disease
Plant oils can help control scale and aphids on trees and shrubs. Spray in the cool of the evening. Oils can harm the plants in the heat of summer so apply dilutions according to instructions.
Leaf miners make translucent trails on the leaves of Texas red oak and other plants. Some leafminers are sawfly maggots. Bt would not work on them. Oak leaf miners are moth caterpillars so Bt or Trichogramma Wasps should control them, but usually are not a big enough problem to worry about anyway.
Tent caterpillars come out in the spring and early summer. Webworms come out in fall, hence their other name of Fall Webworms.
Tent caterpillars use their web for protection when they are not feeding. They wander out to feed. Webworms eat within their webs. Trichogramma Wasps early in spring will get the eggs, but not the adults. Dormant plant oils in the winter will get the eggs also. Bt is effective, but works better on young worms. If you can tear up the web with a garden hose sprayer or stick, birds, lizards, and other insects can eat them. Plant oil sprays can work, but require complete coverage which is hard in the top of a tree. Spinosad containing products will work also, but will harm bees if wet. Spray in the evening so it will be dry when bees come out in the day. Spray Bt or Spinosad on foliage around the webs as that will be what they eat first. You don’t need to spray the whole tree. Ordinarily the tree will grow new leaves with little harm to itself when the caterpillars finish their life cycle. Just wait them out and release wasps or use dormant oils next year.
The heat of summer tends to stress plants and signs of iron deficiency called chlorosis, will appear. The leaves of trees, shrubs, and grass will turn yellow with darker green veins. The cause is our high pH clay soil that chemically binds iron and magnesium nutrients needed for photosynthesis. Applications of Copperas (iron sulfate) on the soil around the plants or to the potting soil will help with this problem. You can use it as a foliar spray, but it can burn the foliage. If you want a foliar spray, use our Ferti-lome Chelated Liquid Iron. The chelated form or iron is the fastest acting form. Greensand is good to use, but is slower acting but longer lasting. Greensand contains around 20% iron oxide (i.e. rust) which is insoluble in water so doesn’t wash away, but needs to be chelated by the soil microorganisms to be available to plants. A high organic content to the soil will lower the pH and will be a more permanent solution.
Greensand is applied 20 to 40 pounds per 1,000 square feet each year. It also supplies a large amount of potassium (about 5-7% Potassium, K/potash), about 2% magnesium (Mg), about 2% phosphorous (P) in Texas Greensand, and as many as 30 different trace minerals. These other nutrients make greensand a fertilizer that can be over applied. A soil test is recommended to make sure the soil chemistry is not harmed by added too much of any nutrient.
Some trees and shrubs will have leaves turn yellow and drop in the summer heat and in drought condition. This is not chlorosis, but is normal to conserve water.
If you have cultured pecan or other nut trees and/or fruit trees, we recommend you follow Howard Garrett’s Organic Fruit and Pecan Tree Program. http://dirtdoctor.com/organic/garden/view_question/id/2611/. It mainly revolves around the holistic approach of most of the organic program in establishing the best growing condition and health of the plants and soil so they can ward off problems and disease before they start. It’s easier to prevent than cure.
Howard Garrett has an Organic Rose Program you can follow to ensure the best care of your roses.
Another very good, but not strictly organic rose program is through Jerry Parsons’ web site.
Jerry apparently derived some of his info from the American Rose Society’s web site “About Roses”. They also have a series of videos on roses. Check out “Sporotrichosis: aka The Rose Thorn Disease”. Crap!, I’ve never heard of this before! Just don’t touch me with your purple boils!
What to Do Now With Your Roses
Prune non-climbing roses in early August to clean out dead canes, old canes, and dead flowers to give good air circulation, to reduce pests and disease, and to stimulate fall blooms.
Spray the bottom side of foliage on rose bushes with GreenSense Kelp Extract or insecticidal soap spray to control spider mites.
Thrips can be present even during warm weather. They are very small, barely visible, slender, flying insects, pale yellow to black. They suck on leaves or flowers like aphids. They cause specks or streaks on leaves which can curl upward into a boat-shape. Flowers turn brown on the edges and don't open properly, or are not formed properly and stunted. Spray buds every couple of days, prior to sepals coming down, with plant oils or neem products when necessary. Garlic tea and Kelp Extract sprays can be effective. Don’t spray if you don’t see problems. Even organic sprays can be harmful to plants if used too much.
Fertilize with GreenSense water soluble Foliar Juice twice a month, or with GreenSense dry Rose Food once a month. In hot weather a soluble fertilizer is more readily available to the plants. Spray in the cool of the morning if possible for better absorption.
Iron chlorosis can occur now also.
MULCH! In this hot weather, it’s important to mulch your beds and planting properly.
Lawn, Turf Grasses and Ground Covers
You can plant sod through late fall where the grass blades wont grow, but the roots will. You can plant bermuda seed up till mid August and still allow time for it to become established before it goes dormant in the winter.
You can still plant groundcovers and borders. Frog fruit and horseherb are two native groundcovers that are good for the shade. Try oregano for a border in full sun. Other common shady ground covers including horseherb, Asian jasmine, English ivy, Persian ivy, purple wintercreeper, liriope and ophiopogan.
Soil Test: “Texas Plant & Soil Lab” at 5115 West Monte Cristo Road, Edinburg, Texas 78541-8852, 956-383-0739. They can give you organic recommendations.
If you did not fertilize in the last two months, you should fertilize this month with Green Sense All Purpose Lawn & Garden Fertilizer. We recommend fertilizing every three months.
Greensand & Humate will help keep the grass green and prevent chlorosis. Use greensand once a year if needed. It is a fertilizer and you can use too much. Divide amount into 2 applications, in spring and summer, to extend benefits. Put down humate once or twice a year, not every three months.
Spread a half inch layer of compost to poorly growing parts of the lawn.
Dry molasses will supply B vitamins, iron, and sulfur along with the quick energy to the soil microbes of the sugars. These sugars also feed nitrogen fixing soil bacteria that are free living in the soils and are not associated with plant roots like Mycorrihizal fungi. They will add nitrogen fertilizer to the soil. Dry molasses doesn’t attract ants either. In fact it appears to repeal fire ant and others. Possible due to the increase microbial activity. Ants don’t like bugs in their nests any more than we do I guess.
For regular mowing, set mower to correct height: Common Bermuda two to three inches, St. Augustine two to four inches, hybrid Bermudas a quarter to two and a half inches, depending on variety, buffalograss three inches, fescue three inches, zoysia two to three inches. You don’t want the grass to be so high it falls over though.
The Rule of a Third: Cut no more than a third of the height of the grass blade. If you need to cut a lot of the grass height off, then you must do it in two or more passes, waiting two days between passes. This will prevent weakening the grass. Leave the grass clippings in the lawn. This can return maybe a third of the grass’ fertilizer requirement. If the grass clippings clumps up in piles, you are not mowing often enough. Rake up and compost.
Water about one inch a week. This will encourage deeper drought resistant roots. Seasonal weeds are mostly shallow rooted. Take rain into consideration. Lawns should dry out between waterings though to help control fungal disease. If your grass doesn't spring back when you walk in it, it may need watering. Time your sprinkler output with several flat sided bowels, tuna/pet food cans, etc to see how long it takes to deliver one inch of water (add water levels together and divide by number of cans). Rohde’s carries a nice assortment of rain gauges to help prevent you from over watering.
Pests and Disease
Gray Leaf Spot
There’s another lawn problem showing up now, on many kinds of turfgrasses, but mostly on St. Augustine here in Texas. Gray leaf spot, caused by the fungus Pyricularia grisea. It has been common in the Southern states since first being reported in 1971. Hot, wet, and humid conditions favor this disease, and our spring and early summer weather was ideal. Shaded, more humid areas are more prone which may be why St. Augustine is mostly affected.
Gray leaf spot gets its name from the production of gray spores on BB sized, elongated lesions. The grass has a scorched appearance. A yellow margin may surround the lesion and the leaf blades may have dark brown borders. Gray leaf spot symptoms can easily be confused with other problems such as Brown Patch or drought stress.
The fungus kills the plant from severe leaf blight. Chemicals are produced that disrupt the biochemical and physiological balance within the grass. Once established, it’s very difficult to control, even with chemical fungicides. The disease spreads so quickly that large areas of turf can be lost within a few days.
Good organic lawn maintenance practices to keep the grass as healthy as possible and reduce summer stress is the best treatment for gray leaf spot. Regular organic fertilizing, aeration and good drainage, avoiding excessive watering and grass wetness with once a week watering of the proper amount. Don’t run the automatic sprinklers everyday for ten minuets. Don’t use synthetic high nitrogen fertilizers during summer months. It causes excessively lush turfgrass that is susceptible to gray leaf spot and other diseases and pests.
I’ve read that no biological control is available. Actinovate doesn’t specifically list Pyricularia as one of the fungi it can treat, but they don’t list everything. It’s worth trying.
Howard Garrett recommends the evolving standard fungal lawn disease treatment: Go organic to build the beneficial microbes in the soil. Spread a thin layer (a half inch) of compost or for faster results corn meal at 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Spray the problem area with Garrett Juice plus garlic tea. Potassium bicarbonate at one rounded tablespoon per gallon can be added for additional control. Broadcast cornmeal at 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
Grubs may start to become a problem now. The newly hatched grubs are the grass root eaters in mid summer and fall. Beneficial nematodes are the best control. Nematodes are more likely to be available in the fall as they don’t ship well in the summer. Nematodes also do better in cooler, wetter soils. Under good conditions, nematodes may reduce white grub populations by 50% or more. One microbial pesticide, Bacillus popilliae, or milky spore disease, often is recommended for Japanese beetle grub control in other regions of the U.S., but has not been shown to be effective against Texas turf-infesting white grubs. Spiked sandals sold for aerating turf have been tried with some success for controlling damaging grub populations. According to one study, repeatedly walking over heavily infested turf with the spiked sandals may reduce grub populations up to 50%. We don’t have these sandals.
General Pests and Diseases
Rohde’s carriers the full complement of organic pest and disease controls, for both inside and out. Stop by and see.
For slugs, use ‘Sluggo” bait. We also have copper tape for raised beds and special plants. Also use traps as no one treatment works as well as several different kinds.
See lawn section for soil-borne fungi.
For tomato blight, add corn meal and compost to the soil, mulch good, rotate planting beds, space plants farther apart for good air circulation, use tomato cages to keep branches off the ground. Try Plant Wash to remove spores. Garlic spray will help too.
For other foliage fungal problems like black spot and powdery mildew, we have plant oils, potassium bicarbonate, Serenade, copper sprays, dusting sulfur, Plant Wash.
Isolated cases of aphids can be treated with a strong blast of water, Green Sense Citrus Oil, one of our other selections of plant oils, insecticidal soap, and/or release of ladybugs into the garden. We have these too.
Along with the lady bugs, we may also have in stock green lacewings, and predatory wasp to help control of aphids, spider mites, thrips, caterpillars and other pests. Call for availability.
We have Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis products for control caterpillars.
Garlic sprays will keep mosquitoes away and is an effective fungicide.
Rohde’s carries D.E. or diatomaceous earth in one, five, ten or fifty pound bags. Use it to control insects in dry environments. It does not hurt earthworms in the soil. Useful in treating cracks, wall crevices, wall voids, and attics to repel insects and deny harborage in these areas. It’s effective against pests that live in close association with humans such as cockroaches, silverfish, mites, ants, houseflies, spiders, bedbugs, fleas and crickets. It’s also effective outside in controlling aphids, caterpillars, codling moth, flies, fleas, Chinch bugs, and ants. In the garden, apply at night or in the late evening to minimize effects on beneficial insects.
If you are spraying anything, protect yourself with goggles and at least a NIOSH N95 approved Respirator Dust Mask. This stuff may be organic but it could be hazardous to inhale. Don’t take the chance.
Other Things to Do This Month
Have your soil tested to know what your garden and lawn needs. Rohde’s recommends “Texas Plant & Soil Lab” at 5115 West Monte Cristo Road, Edinburg, Texas 78541-8852, 956-383-0739. They can give you organic recommendations.
Keep bird feeders and bird baths clean and filled.
Most of this calendar is designed for Dallas, Tx in USDA Hardiness Zone 8a, with a predominant soil type of blackland prairie clay.