Late summer no time to slack off on garden chores

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With the weather still staying hot but the seasons changing, there are many jobs we as gardeners need to be doing at this time.

We start with the planting of fall flowers toward the end of August and early September - flowers such as chrysanthemums, marigolds, phlox, rudbeckia, zinnia and gaillardia.

At the same time, we need to fertilize our flowerbeds to provide more nutrition to our plants so they keep blooming strongly throughout the fall.

Roses can use another fertilization at this time. Still watch for aphids, scale, mealybugs and spider mites on your flowers and shrubbery. If you see these problems, treat with an insecticide.

Prune off the old blossoms of your hydrangeas by cutting just under the browned blooms. If you cut too far down, you will affect next year's blooms.

Lawns should still be mowed at the proper height, and you should be watering once or twice a week depending on how much rain we get in late summer.

If we get a lot of evening showers you might get brown patch appearing in your grass. It might show up as a brownish circular patch the size of a dinner plate, or it might make the grass look brown underneath with green on the upper third of the blades.

If you have St. Augustine, you might also see gray leaf spot affecting the blades, with grayish-brown areas in odd patterns.

If either of these diseases appear, you should treat with a fungicide.

Now is when we could see chinch bugs affecting St. Augustine grass by turning small areas yellow and then spreading rapidly. They don't affect other grasses or weeds; they just bypass them. If these insects start appearing, treat immediately with an insecticide.

Mole crickets still pose a problem as they eat the fine root hairs of your grass and cause stress due to the grass's inability to absorb water or nutrition, weakening the grass and allowing brown patch to affect it too.

For vegetable gardeners, it's time to think of planting more basil, cilantro, rosemary and thyme for the fall. It is also time to plant greens such as collards, turnips and mustard.

As we get into early September, you can plant another crop of green beans, English peas, snow peas or sugar snaps, radishes, beets, lettuce, carrots and onion sets.

We will be seeing transplants such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts appearing at garden centers.

Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.

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