August 2011 Gardening Calendar
This is a once-a-month column provided to Wilson County News reader online.
And the drought keeps marching on! Water is at a premium and you are probably in a community with drought restrictions in place. Most restrictions are established to reduce water use but they still allow you to keep your lawn and plants alive.
Supplement the limited sprinkler time with hand watering of especially dry spots. Water newly planted (last 2 or 3 years) at the base because the root system is limited. Most established shrubs and trees are surviving fine. If you have any showing wilting or leaf drop, water them at the drip line.
Leaky hoses are as good as drip irrigation at putting water at the soil line. String out one or two for hedges near the house and flower beds if they need supplementary irrigation. For best results keep the water pressure low so the water is sweated out. One half turn of the spigot is usually sufficient.
There is also a new hand watering product to consider. It is called a Hover. It operates like a water wand but the water is emitted through holes in a line from a plastic tube four feet long. The configuration is convenient for applying water along edges or with uniformity to the lawn. Obtain the product from your favorite local nursery or visit the website www.hoversprinkler.com.
In the vegetable garden the okra needs to be planted early in the month. Transplants would be better than seeds if the nurseries have any left. If you wait beyond the first of the month okra will not have time to yield before cold weather arrives.
It is also time to plant tomatoes for the fall. Look for the heirloom varieties Surefire, Heatwave, and Merced, along with hybrids 444, Solarfire, Sunpride and Celebrity. Last fall many plants were destroyed by this yellow wilt virus. Tycoon is a heat setter and the only selection resistant to the virus. The first widespread use of Tycoon occurred this spring. The first was large, sweet and tough skinned. Tycoon was the dominant tomato at the Milbergers/Garden South Texas top tomato contest in 2011.
Peppers that declined in the heat may perk up some in August if the temps moderate. If not, keep them watered and expect more production in September and October.
There is still time to plant zinnias, marigolds, vinca, moss roses, and pursalane for full sun annual color. In the shade pentas are the best choice. For perennial color Mexican bush sage, firebush, esperanza, poinciana, and lantana will still do a good job in the sun. Use shrimp plant and/or Turk’s cap in the shade.
Watch for webworms in fruit trees and pecans. They are easy to pull the webs out in lower trees but more difficult in tall trees. A cane pole helps but be careful around utility lines. Webworms will reduce nut yield. If the webs can be destroyed the caterpillars become easy picking for predatory wasps and, more effectively, the sun.
It is very difficult to spray an insecticide high into a large pecan tree. Bt products work if you apply it to the leaves around the web.
Aphid honeydew is also an issue. The sticky sugary sap is the excrement from the sucking insects. In severe cases it drips on cars, sidewalks, and lawn chairs and it coats the leaves to serve as food for sooty mold. This is a situation where control is best achieved letting the predatory insects to their job. An insecticide will kill aphids if you can spray it into the tree but unless you can spray regularly, the aphids reproduce quickly and are back in place within a few weeks.
Pawnee pecans seem to be resistant to aphids. They also make a nice shade tree and produce an early small but consistently good papershell nut.
Calvin R. Finch, PhD, is a SAWS Director and Horticulturis.