By Rita Langlais
Master Gardener

I know it is early to be thinking of fall in early August. In reality, it is just around the corner as indicated by all the upcoming and ongoing fairs. The basic growing season for 2018 is almost over. The weather here in the northwestern part of Vermont has had a huge impact on my gardens so I presume it has had an impact on yours.

Although mid and southern portions of the state have experienced so much rain many areas are flooding, we here haven’t received but about an inch and a half total over the past 6-8 weeks. My gardens have shown many signs of stress, like;

  • Stunted growth (i.e. lilies that normally reach between 8-10 feet tall are barely 4 feet tall this year.)
  • Many plants have flowered smaller blooms that have only lasted a few days and died off
  • Some plants haven’t even bloomed yet and are dying off as though it were late fall.
  • Even weeds, for the most part, are dying off like in late fall.
  • My lawn has huge areas of dead grass that crumbles beneath the feet when walked upon.
  • It has also been a rough year for wild animals searching for food so we’ve experienced lots of damage due to deer, wild rabbits, groundhogs, mole and voles, etc.

As frustrating as all that has been there are some plants that have done exceptionally well in this drought and high heat.

Despite the weather, early August is a good time to:

  • Plant a second crop of cool weather, short season, crops like lettuce and radishes as garden space becomes available.
  • Many nurseries are having their “end-of-season” sales which offer great deals on shrubs, trees and good-sized perennials.
  • Following spent blooms, divide and transplant bearded irises.
  • Repair and over-seed problem spots in the lawn (water daily).
  • Prepare to apply grub control by the end of the month to control next year’s population of Japanese beetles.
  • Begin gathering the spring blooming bulbs for fall planting. (i.e., tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, etc.)

When dividing and transplanting make sure to dig the hole where the transplant is going and water it thoroughly before actually transplanting, and again after transplanting. Water often to insure good root growth before winter sets in.

If you’re purchasing bulbs now to plant this fall, don’t store flowering bulbs with apples, bananas and some other fruits and vegetables.

They give off ethylene gas, which can kill the blooms in the bulbs.