Northern & Central Midwest

August, 2010
Regional Report

Start a Compost Pile

As you remove garden waste, this is a perfect time to start a compost pile. Add garden plants (except diseased ones) and kitchen waste to a contained area. Layer with soil, leaves and straw as you pile it on. If you want to turn the pile, the compost will be ready sooner. Otherwise, leave it over winter to do its thing.

Plant Cover Crops

As you harvest your vegetables and leave patches of ground bare, plant a cover crop to increase the organics in the soil. Annual rye, winter rye or winter wheat will get a start now and then can be turned under in late fall or early spring to improve your soil structure and nutrient availability.

Renew Your Lawn

Get ready for lawn renewal. The soil is warm so grass seed will germinate quickly. If you have bare spots, you may want to overseed to fill them in. A slit seeder is best for making sure the seed has contact with the soil. Choose an appropriate cool season grass for your site and be ready to irrigate regularly if rains don't cooperate.

Plant Autumn Crocus

Look for autumn crocus in neighbors' gardens and plan to add some to your own display. The bulbs should be planted now and will produce rich tropical leaves in spring and a lily-like pink or white flower in fall. Depending on the size of the bulb, you may get a blossom soon after planting.

Watch for Fall Webworms

Fall webworms may be making themselves visible. They rarely do much destruction since trees are preparing for dormancy, but they can be unsightly. When you find a web, simply clip it off and destroy it. You can also use Bacillus thuringiensis, an organic microbial insecticide, by spraying it into the web. It kills only caterpillars.

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