August to-do list for gardeners
By Rebecca Jepsen
For the Mercury News
August 7, 2010
Deep-water your trees. Use a soaker or drip hose and let water slowly run for two to three hours. Mature fruit trees should be watered every three to four weeks. Young fruit trees need watering every two weeks or more. A mature ornamental or street tree may not need any deep-watering. Note: When doing your basic yard watering, don't let sprinklers hit the trunk of the tree as this can cause crown rot.
Prune for fire blight, which 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.
Trim back 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.
Keep ants at bay 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.
Treat for bitter pit, a physiological disorder that affects many varieties of apples. Bitter pit is caused by low levels of calcium in fruit tissues; affected fruit will develop small brown, sunken lesions. Spraying with a calcium nitrate solution (1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water) just after bloom and again six weeks later may help.
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 and the other Master Gardeners? Call the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener hot line, 408-282-3105, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. weekdays, or check the website, www.mastergardeners.org.