Jessica Damiano Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print and online media. She has worked on Newsday's interactive endeavors since 1994, and currently is Deputy Editor overseeing Newsday.com's Lifestyle and Entertainment coverage. Jessica enjoys toiling in her garden -- a never-finished work in progress -- and helping local gardeners solve their horticultural problems in her Garden Detective column, which appears every Sunday in Newsday. Her Garden Detective column and blog have been awarded Press Club of Long Island Society of Professional Journalists Awards. Jessica lives in Glen Head, NY, with her husband John, daughters Justine and Julia, dogs Maddie and Miguel, and a whole bunch of perennials, vegetable plants and weeds. Ask a question Show More

A stroll through the garden reveals plump, juicy tomatoes clinging to vines, bare spots concealed by annuals reaching their prime and abundant beds overflowing with perennials. We gardeners, however, can’t afford to be complacent: the garden will never take care of itself. Here’s a chore for every day of August to ensure you reap what you’ve sown.

 

1. The 10th annual Tomato Challenge is coming! Send pictures and your growing strategy to jessica.damiano@newsday.com.

2. Keep mower blades set to a minimum of 3 inches.

3. Clear out spent crops and plant peas, lettuce, radishes and spinach in their place for a fall harvest.

4. Bring split cabbage heads indoors immediately after noticing them or they will become inedible.

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5. To help protect against winter injury, stop pruning evergreens now.

6. Keep pulling weeds. If allowed to go to seed, they’ll multiply next year.

7. Need to relocate evergreens? You can start now and continue through October.

8. Remember to check moisture levels in containers; potted plants need more frequent watering than their in-ground counterparts.

9. To help prevent heat wilt, mist leaves of hybrid tea roses with liquid seaweed.

10. Harvest zucchini while they’re small; they’ll taste better.

11. Move potted tropicals and vacationing houseplants into the shade to prepare for a move indoors later this month.

12. Join me at 7 p.m. for the Great Long Island Tomato Challenge at Newsday (235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville). Bring your biggest tomato and you might be crowned king or queen.

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13. Divide Japanese and Siberian iris and other spring bloomers.

14. Harvest beets when 2 inches wide. Roast in foil and saute the greens for two side dishes from one plant.

15. Leave tomatoes on the vine until fully ripe (except cherries, which won’t suffer from early harvest).

16. Harvest onions when tops flop over. Let them cure in the sun for a few days.

17. If you haven’t sprayed roses, you can use their hips in tea and jam.

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18. Clean up fallen fruit from around trees to discourage pests and disease.

19. Water the lawn deeply. Less-frequent, longer watering sessions trump frequent sprinkles on established turf.

20. Transplant spring-flowering bulbs that need to be relocated.

21. It’s prime lawn-renovating time. Remove dead patches, core aerate, apply compost and seed. Water deeply once, then lightly several times a day.

22. Spend a lazy afternoon looking through gardening catalogs and order spring bulbs before the pickings get slim.

23. Divide crowded daylilies.

24. Plant peonies. Add compost to planting holes to bolster plants.

25. Check that mulch isn’t covering plant crowns, and move it 3 inches away from tree and shrub trunks.

26. Plant white clover in future garden beds. Turn over next spring for naturally nitrogen-rich soil.

27. Fill holes in the garden with heat-loving, late-blooming black-eyed Susan, Russian sage, Coreopsis and yarrow.

28. Replace spent annuals with pansies. They’ll bloom through fall and again next spring.

29. Shop end-of-season sales for great deals on perennials. Just be sure they’re healthy.

30. Move potted tropicals and houseplants indoors for the offseason.

31. When lightning looms, be sure to turn off pond pumps.