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Gardening Newsletter - August 2007 Issue 1

It is transition time in the summer garden. Remove old plants that have stopped producing and replace them with fall-flowering mums, pansies, ornamental kale or dusty miller when the weather cools down a bit. There’s no set date for planting. Some summers, a rainy period arrives in late August, providing the perfect opportunity to plant your fall flowers. Other summers, a late August planting would still put your plants under excessive heat-stress, and it would be better to wait until early September. New plants should receive 1 to 1.5 inches of water every week to 10 days.

If you're planning a fall vegetable garden, now is the time to transplant broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and Chinese cabbage. August is a good time to plant carrots, beets, snap beans, kohlrabi and kale. Lettuce, spinach, radishes and green onions can also be planted later in August and early September. A trick to help seeds germinate in midsummer is to plant the seeds, water them well and then place a board over the row until they sprout. The temporary shade will keep the soil from drying out too quickly and will reduce soil temperatures. Remove the board as soon as seedlings break the surface of the soil.

Take cuttings from plants such as impatiens, coleus, geraniums, wax begonias and fuchsia to overwinter indoors. Use a razor blade instead of scissors to take cuttings, and you'll avoid crushing the stems. Slice the top 3 to 4 inches from a healthy stem, remove the lower leaves, dip the cut end in rooting powder, and slip it into moistened potting soil rather than water. Place the cuttings outdoors, away from direct sunlight. New growth indicates that your cuttings have developed new roots.

Even though home gardens are well established by midsummer, weeds will continue to sprout and compete with garden plantings for water and nutrients. It's important to remove this weedy competition before they go to seed. This is the time of year when the circlehoe really comes in handy for working quickly around mature foliage. It’s hot out there so be careful not to stay out in the sun too long and remember to drink lots of water.