University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Summer News Article


Dr. Leonard Perry, UVM Extension Professor, and
Lisa Halvorsen, Garden Writer

August is generally a month to harvest, not plant, crops although it's not too late to put in one last crop of lettuce, as well as spinach, chard, and kale for fall picking.  It's also a good time to plant perennials in pots to add late season color to the garden.  Check with your local garden store or perennial nursery to see what's in bloom.

It's also okay to plant trees and shrubs that are from containers or balled and burlapped.  Just
keep anything you plant well watered.

Or visit some of Vermont's perennial display gardens for ideas for plants that will flower in August and into the fall.  You can pick up a free brochure listing many of these gardens at many local chambers of commerce.  To order a printed copy of the brochure, send a self-addressed, stamped business-size (No.10) envelope to the Vermont Association of Professional Horticulturists, P.O. Box 396, Jonesville, Vt. 05466.  Or you can view and print a copy from the Web at  Any changes and updates also are posted on this Website.

Once your peas and other early garden crops have stopped production, remove them from the garden.  Getting these plants out of your way makes it easier for you to care for remaining vegetables and reduces the chance for diseases to get going on aging foliage.  It also opens up space for planting later-producing crops or cover crops that need an early start if they are to put on significant growth before frost, such as oats.

If you've been trying to grow "the great pumpkin" for an end-of-the-summer fair or Halloween, early August is the time to do some pruning and fertilizing.  Start by taking off all but one or two pumpkins from the vine.  Pinch the ends off the vines to encourage development of the fruit already set on the vines.

Apply liberal amounts of composted cow manure or a diluted plant fertilizer around the base of the plant.  Keep the area free from weeds to prevent competition for nutrients and moisture.  Mulching with straw or leaves can help.  You also may want to spray the foliage with an appropriate fungicide to prevent mildew from reducing the vigor of the plant.

Raccoons can be a problem in sweet corn.  They seem to know, even before you do, when the corn is ready to pick.  The only surefire way to keep them out is to use an electric fence.  The first strand should be six inches above ground level, the second about 16 inches high.  Just make sure no weeds or grass touch the wire fence, as it will short out the charge and allow the raccoons to get into the corn.

In late August repair problem areas in your lawn.  Many brown spots are not the result of summer dormancy due to drought but rather injury caused by white grubs.  Talk to the experts at your local garden center for advice on proper treatment.  This is also the time to reseed severely injured areas, keeping newly seeded lawns moist and mulched.

After all this work, you're probably ready for a day away.  Why not plan a trip to Montreal where you can visit both the Montreal Botanic Gardens and Mosaiculture International Montreal 2003.  The latter is a stunning display of floral mosaics located in the Old Port district, next to Old Montreal.  They resemble topiary but differ, having plants growing right in the structures, rather than vining plants trained over the structures as in topiary.

This year's theme is Myths and Legends of the World.  There are 70 exhibits from about 35 countries, cities, and organizations.  This gathering in one place of so many mosaicultures makes it the largest such exhibition ever in the world.  Even non-gardeners usually are quite impressed and enjoy this unique living art form.  The exhibition runs until Oct. 6.  You can view more photos and details on the Web at

Other activities for August: donate surplus vegetables to your local food shelter; remove blackberry and raspberry canes that have fruited; visit a pick-your-own blueberry farm.

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