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LifestyleColumnistsJessica Damiano

Garden Detective: A tip or chore for every day in August

Here are 31 tips and chores to conquer

Here are 31 tips and chores to conquer in your garden in August. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/taka4332

August is a month of harvests — many fruits, vegetables and flowers reach their prime, starting the month strong and beginning to fade as it comes to a close. But it’s no time to rest. Spend half your time enjoying the fruit of your labor, and the other half keeping weeds in check and ensuring plants are well-watered. Here’s a chore or tip for each day so you get the most from your garden.

1. For the best flavor, harvest herbs midmorning, just after the dew has dried — 10 a.m. is ideal.

2. Keep deadheading flowering plants to encourage another bloom flush.

3. Plant cool-season crops like lettuce, radishes, spinach, kale and peas for fall harvest.

4. It’s normal for the innermost needles on evergreen branches to turn brown and drop now; don’t panic.

5. Keep a close eye on cabbage after rain; pick immediately if heads split. They won’t store well and will soon become inedible.

6. Remember to turn off pond pumps when electrical storms are forecast.

7. Closely monitor soil moisture in containers; they may need water twice a day.

8. Clean up fallen fruit and plant debris from the soil surface to discourage pests and diseases.

9. Harvest beets when they’re 2 inches wide.

10. Remember to water trees during dry spells.

11. Harvest zucchini when they’re small; larger fruit aren’t as tender.

12. It’s safe to relocate evergreens through October.

13. Give beds and borders a newly cut edge; you’ll be surprised at the difference it will make.

14. Order spring bulbs before stocks are sold out. They’ll ship at planting time.

15. It's seed-producing time for weeds. Pull them by their roots before it’s too late.

16. If houseplants summered outdoors, repot into the next-size pot.

17. Move those houseplants into a shady spot for a week to ease their transition back indoors.

18. Remove diseased foliage from plants and dispose of in the trash.

19. Harvest onions when tops flop over; cure in the sun for a week before storing indoors in a cool, dark spot.

20. Plant flowering shrubs and summer perennials so they'll hit the ground running in spring.

21. Stop fertilizing to avoid new growth that won't be mature enough to withstand frost.

22. It’s time to renovate the lawn. Rake out dead spots, aerate and apply compost and seed. Water deeply once, then lightly twice a day.

23. Collect seeds from podding plants like daylilies, cleomes, rose campions; store in a paper envelope in the fridge, away from fruit, until spring.

24. Rinse vacationing houseplants with water to remove insects; inspect the top inch of soil for pests, then bring indoors until spring.

25. Prune rambling and climbing roses when their flowers fade. 

26. If spring bulbs are crowded, dig up and transplant.

27. Divide Siberian and Japanese iris.

28. The season may be winding down, but weeds are busy reproducing. Pull them before they spread seeds that will grow next year.

29. Divide crowded daylilies.

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

31. Replace faded plants with garden (not florist) mums. They come in many colors and will return year after year.