Home & Garden

Garden chores for the dog days of summer

August is a hot, miserable time of year — in my opinion anyway. Plants struggle with the heat and lack of rain, pets migrate with the shade in the yard, and we quickly move from air conditioned vehicles to air conditioned buildings.

Outdoor chores are most easily accomplished in the cooler mornings. Like it or not, there are still outdoor chores to be tended to in August.

Getting ready for a fall garden?

Preparing for a fall garden is no different than a summer garden. Choose a suitable location with plenty of sun near a water source. Till the soil and add lime and fertilizer as recommended by your soil test. In the absence of a soil test, start with 10 pounds of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet.

Fall vegetables vary in the number of days required to reach maturity. To maintain a constant supply of lettuce and radish, seed every couple of weeks through early October. Transplants can be set out later. Now is the time to plant bush snap beans, cucumbers, bell pepper and cauliflower. Plant broccoli, collards and kale before Sept. 1. Plant carrots, mustard and turnips around the middle of September.

For more about vegetable gardening in Georgia and a link to the complete University of Georgia planting chart, visit: caes.uga.edu/publications/pubDetail.cfm?pk_id=7817

Chinch bugs chewing your St. Augustine grass?

The summer showers have been spotty during the past month. If your landscape has been on the dryer side and you have a St. Augustine lawn, you might be battling chinch bugs.

These small insects reside in the thatch layer, with damage typically beginning at a hot, hard surface — such as the street or a patio — and moving outward. Positive identification of the problem is key prior to treatment with insecticides. Products containing bifenthrin or cyfluthrin are effective against chinch bugs.

Remember that preventing a thick, thatch layer will reduce a number of lawn problems. Avoid overfertilization and overwatering.

Are ants at home with you?

The good news about Argentine ants is that they rarely sting; the bad news is that they are difficult to control. You won’t find a nest as you do with fire ants. Many have made their way inside our homes during the hot, dry summer. My carport has a steady trail moving from one side to the other.

Bait products are preferred. Inside bait options include gels (Combat Source Kill Max-A2 or Hot Shot Ultra Clear Roach and Ant Gel), liquids (Terro Liquid Ant Killer or Hot Shot Ultra Liquid Ant Bait) and bait stations (available from a number of manufacturers). Landscape bait options include hydramethylon (Amdro), avermectin (Ascend) and fipronil (Maxforce).

Keep in mind that baits can be slower acting than other types of insecticides. If after a week or so, the baits aren’t doing the trick, consider a spot or perimeter spray with a product containing bifenthrin, cyfluthrin or permethrin.

There are other “common sense: tips to keep Argentine ants out of the house and away from dwellings. Rinse soda cans before they go into the trash or recycling. Empty garbage containers often and keep pet food containers securely sealed.

Whatever garden chores you are tackling this week, remember that cooler temperatures are on the way!

Upcoming events

Fall Forages Program: 6-9 p.m. Aug. 30, Putnam County Extension Office, 663 Godfrey Road, Suite 101, Eatonton. Sponsored by Jones and Putnam County Cooperative Extension, topics include establishment and maintenance of cool season forages, including weed control. $5 fee includes dinner. Call 478-986-3958 or 706-485-4151 for more details.

Contact county Extension agent Karol Kelly at karolk@uga.edu.