Mid-Atlantic

August, 2010
Regional Report

Divide Crowded Peonies and Bearded Irises

Overgrown perennials may have green foliage but they won't bloom abundantly. August is the preferred time to divide peonies and bearded iris. Transplant large divisions - those with 3 to 5 eyes. Dust iris rhizomes with garden sulfur. Discard any with evidence of rot or borer; dispose of in trash not compost. Water in well. Mulch to keep roots moist.

Cut Back Some Leggy Aster and Mum Stems

To prolong the flowering season, prune back some long aster and mum stems. They'll bloom later and get more bushy than the longer stems you leave to flower earlier.

Keep Picking Fresh Veggies

The more tomatoes, string beans (bush and climbing), cucumbers, and summer squash you pick, the more those plants will produce. Must say I'm relearning this lesson of home-grown abundance. (Almost seems like friends are walking the other way as I yet again approach with bowls full of ripe cherry tomatoes.) Freezing cherry tomatoes in plastic baggies is an option; they're tasty additions to winter stews, soups, casseroles.

Enjoy the Bounty; Share Meals with Neighbors

Turns out my upstairs neighbor Karin is a great cook. We shared an impromptu dinner of leftovers Sunday night. She combined the (very abundant) crookneck squash from my garden with next door neighbor Mel's zucchini, some eggs, Swiss cheese, corn, and onion into a delicate-tasting, delicious, layered casserole. I sliced a just-picked 'Black Krim' heirloom tomato and snipped basil leaves as garnish. Splashed the pair with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. What a feast! Now to be creative with the half-dozen tender cukes Mel gave each of us, I urged Karin to take full advantage of the dill thriving near my zinnia patch. The mint, well, I didn't mention it. That disappears quickly in my batches of iced green tea.

Water With a Boost of Kelp

Plants - from annuals to perennials to shrubs, trees and vegetables - can be stressed by summer heat and insufficient water. Watering and/or spraying the foliage with diluted liquid kelp can only help. Follow the directions. Kelp for plants - concentrated liquid or meal - is powerful. It's made from brown seaweed extract. Kelp is now being called a biostimulant, sometimes a fertilizer. There's much research. Apparently a lot is about hormones. And we know how a little can go a long way for us, hormone-wise.

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