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Bumper Crops and Deer Deterrents for Summer

yellow squash and green zucchinis are piled together
We're right in the middle growing season! Many plants keep producing throughout the season, but you have time to plant a second round of crops if you want. (Photo: Sharon Mollerus)

It is August, and there is much to be done in the garden to prepare for the fall because September is just a few short weeks away.

While late fall is for planting spring flowering bulbs, August is the time to order them to secure quality bulbs in the cultivars perfect for your landscape. I plant bulbs in November, when the soil is typically cool enough for the bulbs, the final deadline for procrastinators is mid- December. When the bulbs arrive, store them in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. Consider using a fan to provide the air circulation needed to prevent the bulbs from succumbing to mildews and rot. I place the fan on a timer, so it runs during the daylight hours, when I am nearby.

Another August project is to protect young trees and large shrubs from white tail deer. Starting in late August deer rub their antlers against flexible woody plants to remove the shedding velvet that was needed for antler formation. During the growth of the antlers the blood vessels and nerves in this special tissue provide nutrition and growth hormones.

vhg-deer cover.jpeg
Protective barriers need to be placed in August and removed in the early spring to prevent deer rubs. (Photo: Peggy Singlemann)

Deer also mark their territory with antler rubbings during the rut season which can begin in late September. They while then use trees to rub their antlers off at the end of rut. To protect pliable woody plants from the damaging, often killing, rubs I typically leave the deer protection in place until early March.

In the garden it is not too late to cut back the Catmint, Nepeta x faassenii, for a second bloom. This should be done around July 4th but, late July to early August is the latest to do so to still enjoy a second wave of blooms on this non-invasive, pollinator plant of Dutch origin. I typically apply a second round of fertilizer to the summer flower annuals knowing the first killing frost is still months away. Do this after a soaking rain or a heavy watering.

In the vegetable garden keep taking daily walkabouts to spy problems before they morph into larger issues. If squash borers have decimated your crop consider replanting a second crop in late August. The female squash vine borers cease laying eggs by mid-August so the second crop should be insect free. As a preventive measure I continually look for masses of eggs on the undersides of leaves and on main plant stems. I use a sharp knife to cut away the small section of leaf the egg mass is attached to or carefully scrape it off the vine. I then destroy the eggs by squishing them. The amount I cut out of the leaf is typically the size of a dime, not enough to harm the leaf. I also look for entry holes in the stems of each plant and if spied I slide an unfolded large paperclip into the hole to pierce the boring larvae before it kills the plant. Wilting squash plant leaves is a good indicator there may be a borer in the vine.

For squash bug control lay a board on the ground in the squash patch, the bugs will migrate under the board for easy eradication. Also look for squash bug egg masses on the undersides of leaves, too, they can be found in the V crotch formed by the leaf veins. I cut those out, too. Squash bugs are piercing sucking insects that damage leaves, stems and fruit, a severe infestation can destroy the harvest and kill the plant.

In zone 6b, 7a, and 7b early August is the perfect time to plant a second crop of corn, beans, beets, and carrots. Mid-late August is the time to sow seeds of the cole crops of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, Brussel sprouts, plus rutabaga, turnips, leeks, mustard, spinach, lettuce, and other salad greens.

Join me in shaking off the summer doldrums and grab your hat, put on the sunscreen, and get in the garden! After all, it is August and there are things to do.

Happy Gardening!
- Peggy