A second planting will extend your gardening season
It’s August, the days are getting shorter, and we have had some rain. It is time to think about cutting back plants and planting a few more seeds.
I just finished cutting back plants that will re-grow this season, and some will put out more flowers. Coreopsis, phlox, daylilies, scabiosa, campanula, catmint, cranesbill, ladies’ mantle, columbine, spriderwort, lungwort and yarrow are plants in my garden that respond well to this treatment.
The rain will facilitate their re-growth. Many annuals, especially petunias, will flower better if you cut them back now, then provide extra water and some fertilizer for the next couple of weeks.
The time has already passed for a re-planting of some vegetables, but leafy greens like lettuce grow easily, and will not bolt as quickly in the cooler fall weather.
Spinach will often survive the winter, giving you earlier greens in the spring. The leafy greens can be easily started in a small container, then transplanted when they have three sets of leaves.
I use yogurt cups to start seeds: I use a sharp knife point to drill a hole in the bottom of one cup for drainage, then I put a couple of marbles in the bottom of a second yogurt cup to catch the extra water.
I use a sterile seed-starting planting mix for seeds, because they develop fungal diseases easily. You need to fertilize when the plants put out their first set of true leaves. I love the ease of the slow-release fertilizer pellets like Osmocote.
I plan this week to put in some more edible pod peas. They need 70 days to grow, but they will tolerate temperatures down to 20 degrees. It can be difficult to get good germination with summer heat and temperatures, but my soaker hose has been set up, and hopefully I will remember to turn it on regularly.
It is getting kind of late to cut back woody shrubs, because they will respond with new growth that won’t have time to harden off for winter, providing an entry point for diseases.
You can do some light trimming without a problem, but significant cutting back should wait until March.
Julie Brocklehurst-Woods has been a Master Gardener Volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Livingston County for over ten years. She enjoys helping all gardeners become successful gardeners, especially helping people identify tools and strategies to prioritize and simplify their gardening tasks. She works part-time as an occupational therapist with Finger Lakes DDSO.