My community garden plot. Photo by Donna L. Long.
It was the middle of July with some of the hottest days and both my gardens looked fantastic.
I think my garden looks so good during the worst days of summer because I plan for the worse days of summer.
I know that the Dog Days (July 3rd through August 11th) are the most trying days for me physically. I have medical conditions which just sap my strength and stamina during these times.
So, I plan for a garden that I can easily and quickly take care of in July and August.

In my backyard flower garden:
  • I plant 98% native plants that have evolved to survive my regions worst days. Notice the Summer Phlox blooming its’ head off on a 100-degree day.
  • With native plants, I don’t have to water or fertilize except on rare occasions.
  • I plant plants with clumping growth habits that make spotting and pulling weeds quick and easy. The weeds are often growing outside the clump. See my list of favorite “clumpers” here.
In my community garden plot (my kitchen garden)
  • I plant in raised beds. Raised beds retain water and have fewer weeds.
  • My raised beds are filled with excellent compost, mostly Philly’s free compost.
  • I cover the ground with professional-grade weed barrier so I don’t have to mulch or mow.
  • I plant indigenous crops which have evolved to live here. I choose varieties that survive in my region or the southern regions.
All these things add up to a stress-free garden during the Dog Days of Summer.
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Chemical-free Pest Control: A Container of Water, and a Couple of Rocks


I spotted the Colorado Potato Beetle in early July. And I picked them off one-by-one. I made a “catchment container”, a tall plastic food container with a quarter-sized hole cut out of the top.

When I locate a beetle or other insect intent on eating my plant, I knock them onto the top of my container and push them into the waiting water below. The larva can’t swim and drown. The adult beetles paddle furiously to stay afloat.

After catching, sometimes as many as 35 beetles, I take them to the compost pile and smash them with rocks. I can’t let them go because they will fly right back to my garden.

It is a chemical-free and environmentally responsible way of getting rid of garden pests. I do apologize to the insects when I dump them in the water. It reminds me that I am taking a life.

A gardening neighbor was lamenting that she had an infestation of the Potato Beetle in her garden plot. She said she was going home to make up a garlic-pepper spray to get rid of them. I just held up my container of floating and drowned beetles.

I figured by the time my gardening neighbor went home, made the spray, and returned the next day, the beetles would have 24 hours to eat her plants.

I first saw the Colorado Potato Beetle in my garden as the Catawba Trees were almost finished blooming. I know next year to check for the Colorado Beetles on my plants in the nightshade family.

For more on the life cycle and behavior of the Colorado Potato Beetle see my blog post, here.

Insecticidal Soap Really Works

I noticed tiny, insects on the underside of my cucumber plants leaves. I rubbed many off with my fingers. When I arrived back home I remembered an ancient bottle of insecticidal soap concentrate. I unearth it in the garage and Frank’s Nursery price tag let me know it was pretty old.
Following the instructions, I made up and batch. I applied it to the soft-bodied insects on my plant's leaves. It worked like a charm. The soft-bodied insects were dead in no time.
Insecticidal soap kills soft-bodied insects like aphids, earwigs, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, larvae, spider mites, whiteflies, and more. And apparently, it lasts a really, long time.
I use Safer Insecticidal Soap. Amazon.com has several different sizes available at a reasonable price.

The Growing Season: What to Plant Now


  • Cool-season annuals that need cool nights will probably be okay after August 15h when the cool night return.
  • Cool-season food crops can go in now
  • Carrots, beets, Swiss chard and plants (transplants) of cabbage
  • Radish, spinach, salad greens, greens, peas - plants seeds every two weeks until early September
  • Garlic and cover crops can be seeded from early September until early October

For the Garden

Start planning to create structures for the garden.
I will be making and filling raised beds in October.
I’ll start buying my materials at the beginning of September. I’ll watch out for sale on leftover garden items, like raised bed corners and weed barrier.

Important Dates

August 2019
August 7th - First Quarter Moon
August 7th - August 15th - Waxing (increasing) moon. Plant crops that bear above ground (annuals and vegetables)
August 11 - The Dog Days have ended. Dog Days are the hottest and most humid days of summer. They last roughly form July 3rd through August 11th
August 15th - Cool night return
August 15th - Full Green Corn Moon
August 16th - August 29th -
August 20th - Ragweed is in blooming moon (decreasing). Plant crops that bear below ground. (bulbs, biennials, perennials, root, and bulb vegetable crops)
August 23rd - Last Quarter Moon
26th - Hummingbirds begin to migrate south
August 30th - New Moon - Mature Corn Moon, Harvest Moon

September 2019
September 5th - First Quarter, Mature Corn Moon
September 14th - Full Moon, Full Mature Corn Moon, Full Harvest Moon
September 21st - Last Quarter Moon
September 28th - New Moon



Classes

I'll be teaching two classes at Mt. Airy Learning Tree this fall.

The Gardener's Calendar - Saturday, October 12th, 2019, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Gardening 101 - Saturday, November 2nd & 9th, 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Posts On My Blog You Might Find Helpful

Colorado Potato Beetle and How to Predict Garden Pest Infestations
Whose Egg Case?
My Garden Looks Fantastic!

Next month - A round-up of what worked well in my garden this year and what didn’t.

Donna
Please note: some of the links in this newsletter lead to affiliate sites, from which I receive a small (tiny) fee.
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A Seasonal Gardener's Handbook: How to Plant, Prune, and Tend Using the Natural Events of the Earth, 2nd ed. (PDF)

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A Seasonal Gardener's Handbook: How to Plant, Prune, and Tend Using the Natural Events of the Earth, 2nd ed. (PDF)