Garden Detective: August chores

August is the time to harvest all those

August is the time to harvest all those tomatoes you've been hard at work growing. (Credit: AP)

You'll be spending a nice portion of your time harvesting juicy tomatoes, bold-colored peppers, tender summer squash and plump berries in August, and your garden likely is providing plenty of cut flowers to enjoy indoors.

Although you're enjoying the proverbial -- and literal -- fruits of your labor, you also should be spending an equally good portion of your time watering and weeding this month. Here's a chore for every day to help you reap the most from what you've sown.

1. Resist the temptation to see how big your zucchini will grow; they're more tender and tasty when small.

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2. Send a photo of yourself with your tomatoes, along with your growing strategy, to jessica.damiano@newsday.com. The 2013 Tomato Challenge is in just three weeks!

3. Give hybrid tea roses a sip of liquid seaweed to protect against heat wilt.

4. The most important nutrient you can give plants this month is water. Best to water deeply and first thing in the morning.

5. Keep mower blades set to 3 inches (or higher). Cut lower, and grass might not photosynthesize sufficiently.

6. Plant lettuce, radishes, spinach, peas and other cool-season crops now for a fall harvest.

7. Rinse extra flat-leaved herbs like basil and parsley, lay flat to dry, then bag and freeze.

8. It's safe to start relocating evergreens. Just be sure to dig up as much of their roots as possible.

9. Bring split cabbages indoors as you spot them; otherwise they'll become inedible.

10. Leave tomatoes on the vine until fully ripe.

11. Monitor container moisture at least once a day; potted plants need more water than garden plants.

12. Turn off pond pumps when an electrical storm is in the forecast.

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

14. It's time to divide spring bloomers like Japanese and Siberian iris.

15. Growing beets? Roast them in foil and saute the greens, and you'll get two side dishes from one plant.

16. If you haven't sprayed roses with chemicals, you can use their hips to make tea and jam.

17. Are you growing tropical plants? Send photos to jessica.damiano@newsday.com.

18. Water the lawn deeply when needed instead of sprinkling lightly every day. Aim for two inches per week, including rainfall.

19. Clean up fallen fruit from around trees to prevent pest infestations.

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

21. Divide and transplant peonies, keeping eyes no more than an inch or two beneath the soil.

22. Time to renovate the lawn! Remove dead patches, aerate, apply compost and seed. Water deeply just once, then sprinkle twice a day.

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

24. Divide crowded daylilies when they stop blooming.

25. Expect some browning on the innermost branches of evergreens. It's normal for older branches to shed this time of year.

26. Take cuttings of geraniums and wax begonias, and root indoors for a new generation of free plants next year.

27. Re-edge beds. You'll be amazed at the difference it makes!

28. Collect seeds from daylilies, Cleomes, rose campions and other podding plants. Store in a paper envelope in the fridge, away from fruit, until spring.

29. Pull up vegetable plants as they fade and start a compost pile.

30. Move houseplants and potted tropicals indoors for the off-season.

31. Keep on top of weeds, and be sure to get them at their roots.