Article by Bob Dailey, Master Gardener
Gardening for August
Yes, it’s hot out there, and we’ve had little or no rain. For many of us, that means one of two things: either our plants and our lawn is turning yellow, or our water bills are out of sight.
Are we in a drought?
Already, almost all of Montgomery County is in” Severe Drought,” except for a small area in the north of the county which is in “Moderate Drought.” I spoke to John Neilson-Gammon, the state climatologist, who told me that we could expect at least several more months of drought. The last drought ended in 2012, and that was a decade ago. So, sorry to say, we’re about due for another one. Unfortunately, we do not know how long this one will last. And whether you believe climate change is manmade or a natural phenomenon, it is real, and our state climatologist says that it is the wild card as to how long this drought will last.
In the 1950s, Texas went through a seven-year drought – a turning point in Texas history. During that time, Texas received 30 to 50% less rain than normal. This led to the formation of the Texas Water Development Board.
Veteran gardeners know that fall gardening starts this month. Mid- to late August is when we need to start planting vegetables for the fall season. In fact, many of us believe that the best tasting vegetables are harvested in the cool days of fall. If you’ve ever eaten green beans harvested in the fall, you know that they’re the best tasting ones.
Plant fall annuals toward the end of this month. Those great flowers you planted in the spring and didn’t make it through the intense summer will do well in the fall. Try some of the native plant species, or the non-native species that use less water. You can find a whole list of them at the Texas Earthkind website. You can type in your zip code and the Earthkind system will provide you with a list of plants that do well in our area, as well as some brilliant color photos. When the heat breaks in the fall, those annuals will be ready to bloom.
Lawns are suffering just now. It’s a little early to add compost, but surely do water at least twice a week. Use the cycle and soak method. If you’re used to watering each of your zones for 20 minutes, break it down to two 10-minute cycles. Run your irrigation system once at 10 minutes. At the end, run your system again for 10 minutes in each zone. Adhesion and capillary action will help pull the water down into the soil and into the turf’s root system. After all that’s where we want the water to be.