Langley Gardening: August time to relax and enjoy flowers and vegetables

In August, flower gardeners reap rewards from the hard work they did in spring. They can relax, knowing that most of the ornamental garden work can be left until weather cools in September.

Even dead-heading flowers is an option.

People who want a second crop of shrub and perennial flowers will get busy shearing roses, buddleia, phloxes, lavenders, globe thistles, anchusa, penstemons, yarrows, and toadflaxes.

But people who hope for rose hips or seed for future planting don’t even have to do that.

Petunias often start to grow long and lanky in August. It’s fine to shorten them. They’ll be pathetic stumps at first, but before long, they’ll be shooting back, budding and flowering.

Soon, autumn crocus (colchicum) bulbs will be in nurseries. They aren’t cheap, but are good value, because they’re pest-free, they spread, and they flower reliably in sun, with very large pink-purple crocus-type blooms.

Gardeners who keep their gardens mulched can relax the frequency of watering, except for moisture-loving plants such as hellebores or mints.

There’s no problem, either, in abandoning lawn watering for a couple of months. Lawns green up quickly when rain returns.

Water saved from the lawn will be needed in the vegetable garden, because moisture is needed to help beans, zucchinis, squash, tomatoes, and root and leafy crops get larger. Any crop that’s partly self-pollinated, such as beans, will also benefit from a swoosh of the hose over the plants to get their pollen moving around.

Tomatoes grown under cover also need a good shake for pollination. They are greedy feeders, and also moisture lovers – as are squash. Bush squash need very rich nourishment, especially if they’re in a big container – fish fertilizer, sea soil, or a balanced (all numbers the same) organic fertilizer are all suitable.

Rural gardeners often have space for vining squash, which seek out their own food if allowed to run, because auxiliary roots form on the wandering stems. The leaves are quite beautiful, like huge earthbound water lilies. Heirloom squash are often vining. Fruit of some kinds can be large and very heavy.

Garlic doesn’t need watering now, nor do shallots, because both are in the run-up to harvesting.

Sometime through August is good timing to harvest them – best done before the stems dry and disappear. Invisible stems mean a few root clusters also vanish. In spring, they reappear in inconvenient places.

With some crops, harvesting fits nicely with composting unusable plant bits.

Every time a broad bean plant is stripped of its last beans, it’s easy to pull the plant and pile it ready for compost. If you’re armed with a pruner, the last crop of summer raspberries can dovetail with cutting fruited stems.

It’s not too late to sow seed of a few things: arugula and corn salad are especially useful because they mature quickly and are fairly slug resistant.

Green onions, radishes and spinach can also be sown now.

My father, who gardened in South Surrey, used to plant peas in the last two weeks of July, calling it his “silly” crop, because whether it ever matured was always dicey. But planting pod pea seed gives you a harvest a week earlier than shelling peas do.

Just Posted

Crime Briefs: Police seek suspects in thefts of perfume, groceries, blue jeans

Langley police are asking for the public’s help to identify suspects.

Langley curling couple bound for provincials in Creston

Craig and Karen Lepine are skipping their own teams in the upcoming BC masters curling competition.

Coach’s Corner: Team gave big effort in tough games

Vancouver Giants head coach Jason McKee talks about injuries, goaltending, and penalty killing.

Painful Truth: Season of ice, season of puddles

Waiting for good cycling weather is a long process in a cold winter.

Our View: B.C. budget biggest shakeup in housing for years

The broad scope of the budget’s measures are likely to have an effect.

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

5 to start your day

A B.C. teacher suspended for using the N-word, icy roads snarl traffic and more

Canadian support split on Trans Mountain pipeline debate: Poll

Angus Reid poll surveying Canadians on pipeline stance finds no clear winner

Tired of ‘big city life’? One-stoplight town hosts contest to lure in city slickers

Contest by BC Rural Centre hopes to attract city folks to a small town in the Kootenays

Student protest outside White House a snapshot of American gun debate

Demonstrators take part in a student protest for gun control legislation in front of the White House

Feds can’t do much to fight fake news in Canada

Federal government can’t do much to fight fake news: Canadian Heritage documents

Canada’s Boutin wins silver in women’s 1,000 short track

Women’s 1,000-metre short-track speedskater Kim Boutin wins silver the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Thursday

Ry Cooder coming to Vancouver Island MusicFest

American music icon to play in Comox Valley July 14

Team USA beats Canada 3-2 on the shootout to take home Olympic gold

Americans win their first gold medal since 1998

Most Read