Here's the August to-do list for gardeners:
Deep-watering of trees should be done about twice during the summer (in addition to topical watering). Use a soaker or drip hose around the drip line and let water slowly run for two to three hours. Mature fruit trees should be deep-watered every three to four weeks; a mature ornamental or street tree may not need any water. Young fruit trees need watering every two weeks or more.
Yellow jackets can be aggressive when defending their nests, so avoid the area if possible. When eating outdoors, keep food well covered. Place a piece of meat or opened soda a good distance away from your table to lure them away.
Fire blight affects apples, pears and related ornamentals. Growing tips and branches appear burned, often with a dark oozing liquid. Prune off at least 8-12 inches below the infected area. Discard all diseased wood, and clean pruners with a strong bleach solution after each cut.
Prune hydrangeas to control size and shape. Cut off older stems that have flowered. For large flower clusters, reduce the number of stems. For lots of smaller flowers, keep more nicely spaced stems.
Control ants by storing food in airtight containers and clean up any food crumbs or spills. Keep ants out by caulking cracks and crevices that provide entryways into your home. If necessary, use bait stations made with boric acid, but be sure to place them out of the reach of children and pets. If ants are a problem on shrubs or trees, band the trunks with a product such as Tanglefoot.
What to plant now
Transplants: arugula, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts.
Seeds: arugula, Asian greens, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, fava beans, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, spinach.
Have a question for Rebecca Jepsen or the other Santa Clara County Master Gardeners? Call the hot line, 408-282-3105, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on weekdays or check www.mastergardeners.org.