For late-summer to fall color you can now plant aster, chrysanthemum, coreopsis, daylily, gaillardia, gaura, Japanese anemone, lavatera, Nemesia fruticans, rudbeckia, Russian sage, sage (such as Salvia guaranitica), summer phlox, and verbena.
Order your bearded irises by August 15th. For a striking display in spring, contact Napa Country Iris Garden (707/255-7880) ― which offers more than 400 varieties such as ruffled pink ‘Happenstance’, white-and-lavender ‘Painted Lady Lavender’, purple-black ‘Spades’, and red-brown ‘Valentino’, and so many more.
Harvest your vegetables on a regular basis to keep the plants producing well. Melons are typically ripe when the stems turn from green to brown. Check the weight of the fruit compared to other melons on the vine. Typically the heavier fruits are more ripe than lighter ones. I like to test the ripeness of fruits by turning them. If they come off easy they are ready to be picked. If you need to apply force, leave them to ripen more.
You can also fertilize your vegetable beds again with EB Stone Tomato & Vegetable Food or Master Nursery Master Start.
Start root vegetables. Sow seeds for fall and winter harvest. Jared Clark, farm manager of Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture & Education Project in Sacramento (916/363-9685), recommends ‘Chioggia’, ‘Golden’, and ‘Red Ace’ beets; ‘Scarlet Nantes’ and ‘Sugarsnax 54’carrots; and ‘Purple Top’ turnips.
Toward the end of the month you can begin planning and preparing for your fall vegetable garden. Soon broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, peas, lettuce, cabbage, collards, mustards, and many other cool season vegetables can be planted. Fall vegetable gardens do well if planted between September and October.
Trees and Shrubs
Plant a shade tree on the structure’s southwest side, where it will provide the most-needed shade. Use a deciduous tree for summer shade and winter sun. Try Chinese hackberry, Chinese pistache, flowering pear, Japanese pagoda tree, ‘Raywood’ ash, and red oak, all of which are great for Sunset zone 14 – the SF Bay area.
At the end of August or beginning of September it is time to fertilize your fruit trees again. If you want to promote a lot of growth, use the Master Nursery Fruit Tree & Vine Food, otherwise use EB Stone Citrus & Fruit Tree Food or Master Start. If you are trying to keep your trees small as suggested in the Backyard Orchard Culture philosophy, then at the end of August it is time to prune again lightly to remove unwanted height and to shape the tree for easy picking.
Flowers: Keep removing spent flowers before they go to seed. To keep warm-season annuals blooming through the end of summer and into fall, water and fertilize them regularly with fish emulsion or other fertilizer.
Cut back hydrangeas: Most hydrangeas produce flowers on the previous year’s growth (a couple of exceptions are ‘All Summer Beauty’ and Endless Summer, which bloom on new growth). To shape and control the plants’ size, and to avoid cutting off next year’s flower buds, prune them back right after blooms fade. Cut stems that have bloomed back to 12 inches. To produce fewer, larger flowers next spring, cut back some of the stems to the base of the plant.
Prepare beds: Before fall planting, amend soil with compost and soil conditioner. Worm castings, though expensive, are worth the price. Choose pure castings or a mix of castings and compost. Now is also a good time to start a worm bin, which will provide castings for spring soil amending. Find supplies at Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply (888/784-1722), or Sonoma Valley Worm Farm (800/447-6996).
Prune cane berries: Cut to the ground the canes of single-crop blackberries and raspberries that have finished fruiting. Then thin out the new growth, keeping the strongest canes ― 5 to 8 per blackberry plant, 8 to 12 per raspberry plant ― and removing the others. Prune ever-bearing varieties after the fall harvest.
Water citrus: Potted trees must be watered at least once a week, especially in summer heat, but mature citrus in the ground can go longer between watering. Check soil moisture at the root level ― 18 or more inches down ― with a moisture meter, and keep soil on the dry side of moist (the soil surface doesn’t need to be damp). Water deeply and slowly when necessary.
Fertilize Bermuda, St. Augustine, and zoysia lawns monthly through October.
During hot August weather, be sure to mow your lawn to the appropriate height. This reduces water loss and helps lower soil temperatures.
Mushrooms in the lawn can be a nuisance, and the decayed organic material can result in depressions in the yard. Be sure to hand pick them carefully as soon as you see them and before they send out spores. Always wear gloves.
Most importantly! Protect your home from wild fires by clearing brush away as recommended by California Fire Department. If you need help with that, give us a call @ (707) 647-2000.
Happy gardening from the folks of Shamrock Landscape!