For The Answer
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Conservation Director, and Horticulturist
Week of August 8, 2005
“August Gardening Calendar”
Early in the month plant your tomatoes for the autumn garden. Sun Pride, Heat Wave, Celebrity, and 444 will be on the market in the limited quantities as transplants. In the flower garden, plant the large African hybrid marigolds for a great autumn show. They are sometimes called “marimums” because when planted close together (12 – 18 inches on center) they make a solid mass of gold or yellow color just like garden mums. The best show is made from transplants that are planted in the garden before they are blooming. Select stocky transplants without open blooms.
Control spider mites on tomatoes and marigolds with kelthane or neem oil. Kelthane is sold by Hi Yield or Fertilome. If you use neem oil products, apply it every week as a preventative. Apply all spider mite treatments as best as you can under the leaves.
August planted transplants require special attention with watering because of the heat. Drip irrigation is best and mulch helps keep the soil cool and moist. In the absence of drip irrigation a leaky hose works quite well. Wind the hose around the garden next to the transplants. Leaky hoses are designed to sweat or “leak” small amounts of water over a long period of application. Only turn the spigot one quarter to one-half turn and run it for one to two hours every other day.
Irrigation is the key to lawn care in August. Use the Seasonal Irrigation Program (SIP) recommendations provided by the Texas Cooperative Extension for the right amount of water to apply each week to keep the lawn healthy without wasting any water. Visit the SAWS website at saws.org to sign up to receive a personalized recommendation or call the SIP hotline at (210) 281-1478 on your watering day.
August is also a month of brown spots on the lawn. Dead areas caused by drought in your St. Augustine lawn will be linear and in the hottest part of the lawn. Zoysia, buffalo, and Bermuda lawn will not be killed by drought, but parts of the lawn will go dormant. Add extra water to drought-browned areas by a hand-held hose. That is a much more water efficient strategy than to add unnecessary water to the whole lawn.
Chinch bug damage also occurs at the hottest spots in the lawn, along the driveway or where the sun reflects off of the house. If the brown area does not respond to extra hand watering and lots of pinhead size bugs are present when you rub your hand through the edge of the damage, the problem is caused by chinch bugs. Kill them with a labeled granular soil insecticide.
The third brown spot-causing problem that appears in August is the fungal disease Take-all-patch. The dead areas are usually round and are often in the shade. Take-all-patch kills the St. Augustine grass within the circular areas. Fungicides do not work well. The best treatment seems to be one-half to one-inch of spagnum peat moss applied over the whole diseased area. The peat releases acid over a long period that reduces the effect of the alkaline living fungus. The healing period can be over several years.
The end of August is a good time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent winter weeds in the lawn. If your Bermuda, buffalo or zoysia lawn is infested with sand burs, apply MSMA before the burs appear to kill the plants.
Keep your roses well watered and sprayed weekly during the month. The plants will begin blooming again in September or October if they are cared for in August. Apply one-half cup of slow release lawn fertilizer to each plant. The best sprays seem to be Funginex or Mancozel for diseases and acephate (Orthene) for insects. Organic gardeners can try sulfur and neem oil.
- 2 -