Mid-Atlantic

August, 2007
Regional Report

Choose a Lead-free Garden Hose

Choose a garden hose labeled "Lead Free" for safe drinking. Many hoses are made of polyvinyl chloride, which uses lead as a stabilizer. Lead leaches into the water flow at 10 to 100 times the allowable EPA levels for drinking water. Phthalate ester, an industrial chemical that you taste, is also a health concern. Look for a lead-free, antimicrobial, rubber (rather than plastic) hose. With any hose, flush by allowing water to run for a minute or more to let fresh water reach the hose end.

Cut Back Spiderwort Leaves

Spiderwort (Tradescantia) has finished blooming. As the foliage declines, cut leaves and stems back to the ground. This will promote new foliage growth and may stimulate late blooms. Dig up and discard or share spiderwort clumps growing in places you don't want.

Fertilize Repeating Daylilies

'Stella D'oro', 'Happy Returns', 'Red Hot Returns', 'Black-eyed Stella', 'Wine Cup', 'Miss Mary Mary', 'Lady Scarlet', 'Romantic Returns', and fragrant 'Wind Frills' are among the daylilies that repeat bloom. They're usually smaller plants in smaller clumps than nonrepeaters and the common orange daylily. For more flowers this season, cut away dead flower stalks and seedheads. Feed with a granular fertilizer such as a 5-10-15 or 6-12-12 (with more phosphorus and potash than nitrogen).

Weed and Clean Out Overgrown Beds

If you've fallen behind or didn't get to weeding and mulching earlier, take advantage of any cool weather to catch up. Regaining control of overgrown beds may seem overwhelming, but it is doable if you break down the chore. Tackle and complete one section at a time. Weed, cut back, spray poison ivy, and prune the most visible area first -- to give you a boost. Don't push yourself to finish in one work day. It's easier to pat yourself on the back when you see incremental, obvious progress over time.

Fertilize Your Roses

August 15 is the last day to fertilize your roses for this season. Apply a slow-release fertilizer. Also heap a few shovelfuls of aged manure or compost around the plants to break down and release nutrients next year.

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