| Florida Times-Union
August is the doldrums of summer and the heat and humidity are not going anywhere. Add to this the threat of tropical storms and hurricanes and August can be a very dangerous time in the landscape for both you and your plants. Do your best to keep major gardening issues at bay while also keeping yourself safe from heat and storms.
Turf trouble is one of the most common issues throughout our area this and every summer. Many things can happen to a lawn, including diseases (large patch, take-all root rot, Pythium, etc.), pests (chinch bugs, sod webworms, etc.), or environmental (watering issues, heat, etc.). The key to preventing these issues is proper planning in management, including mowing at the correct height and frequency, not irrigating or fertilizing too much, and checking for disease and pest issues so you can treat if needed. This will all help reduce plant stress and lead to a healthier, more resilient lawn.
It can be very difficult to determine what exactly is happening but your local UF/IFAS Extension office can help. Contact us with as much information as possible including irrigation schedules, fertilization timing, pesticides applied, how much light it gets, variety of turf and the symptoms you are seeing. Sending in pictures or bringing us samples of the issue areas can also be helpful.
Are you seeing some yellowing of older fronds on an otherwise healthy palm tree? This is usually from a magnesium or potassium deficiency and can be remedied by fertilizer. When fertilizing palms, a specialty palm fertilizer with micronutrients is recommended and make sure all nitrogen, potassium and magnesium are in a slow-release form. A good analysis to look for is 8N-2P2O5-12K2O +4Mg with micronutrients. Make sure to apply them evenly throughout the area under the fronds of the tree to feed all of the roots; stakes are not effective. This can be done around every three months throughout the active growing season.
This fertilizer can also be used on other areas of your landscape as well.
BACK TO THE GARDEN
August is a great time to start back into vegetable gardening. While okra and sweet potatoes are probably still growing, now is the time to start your fall warm-season crops. This can include another round of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and eggplant.
Cool season crops can also be started. including broccoli, beets, carrots, kale, collards, cabbage and cauliflower. Warmer weather can still be quite stressful on fresh plantings so be sure to keep the soil moist and monitor for issues. Wait until next month for lettuce; it’s still too hot.
If working in your landscape beds, now is a great time to refresh your annual and perennial flowers for the fall. Cut out dead material and spent blooms, prune lightly and fertilize to keep them growing and performing for the next few months.
While we are in the middle of hurricane season, remember to be prepared for winds, flooding and whatever nature may throw at you from either tropical systems or severe afternoon storms. Take inventory of tree issues and get them taken care of by an arborist or tree service and make sure anything in your landscape that might become a projectile is properly secured.
Don’t wait until a storm is knocking at your door to get ready and don’t do your pruning the day before it arrives. Tree debris left out in piles can be a hazard during high winds and block vehicle traffic to your property or even roadways. If you do some cutting back of trees and shrubs, take the material off of your property as soon as possible and do not wait for garbage services if they are unlikely to arrive before the storm.
THINGS TO PLANT IN AUGUST
Vegetables: Beans, cucumber, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, tomatoes, peppers and turnips.
Annuals: Vinca, gaillardia, bulbine, coleus and salvias.
Bulbs, tubers or rhizomes: Aztec lily, butterfly lily, kaffir lily, African lily, spider lily and walking iris.
Wayne Hobbs is an extension agent in environmental horticulture for Clay County.