AUGUST IN THE NORTH FLORIDA GARDEN, by Larry Williams UF/IFAS Extension Agent

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August can be a tough month for our gardens and for the gardener. Our hot, humid weather this time of year may not be too appealing for being outdoors. But if you can do your garden chores in the coolest part of the day, there’s much to do this time of year in our lawns, landscapes and gardens.

Many warm season vegetables can be planted in August, including green beans, lima beans, cucumbers, southern peas, peppers, squash and tomatoes. But be aware that late planted summer vegetables are more likely to be bothered by pest insects and diseases as compared to the same crops planted in spring.

It’s also a great time to plan and prepare for a fall vegetable garden. Many cool season vegetables can be planted in September and October.

Have a pH test done to determine how much lime to apply. Don’t guess. Too much lime is as bad as not enough. Add a generous amount of organic material such as compost, animal manure or rotted leaves. It’s difficult to add too much organic matter to our sandy soils. Just make sure the material is well decomposed to avoid problems such as introducing new weeds to your garden. Allow at least three weeks between the incorporation of amendments and planting.

Watch for spittlebugs in centipedegrass and chinch bugs in St. Augustinegrass lawns. A few of these insects is usually not a problem. But control options may be necessary if you see noticeable damage to your lawn.

Frequent summer showers, high humidity and warm temperatures provide ideal conditions for fungal diseases such as gray leaf spot and take all root rot. Avoid watering too often, which contributes to a favorable disease environment.

Some summer flowering annuals may need deadheading. This is done by removing spent flowers. Many straggly plants can be cut back and fertilized to encourage re-blooming in the fall. Some of these include begonias, coneflowers, impatiens, marigolds, salvia and zinnias.

Doing some weeding in landscape beds that have been taken over by weeds may help reduce their numbers. There is a certain amount of therapy involved with pulling weeds but it also can be frustrating. It’s best to stay ahead of the weeds before they start setting seed and get out of control. But life happens.

For more information on late summer gardening, contact the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your County. Or visit the “Lawn & Garden section of http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu.

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