VIU Milner Gardens and Woodland

August Growing Tips

by Vancouver Island Master Gardeners Association

Welcome to Milner Gardens' 2022 Monthly Growing Tips: Some short-cuts and tricks to help make lighter work of your gardening chores.

In the Landscape

Some roses are still blooming. No more fertilizer or compost, please. It won’t prolong their bloom but only add soft new growth that is susceptible to winter damage.

Deadhead and prune deciduous blooming or fruiting trees and shrubs when they’re finished. Waiting until later in the year, now that our climate is more unpredictable, may not give branches time to heal over should there be an early cold spell.

If the iris or ornamental grass developed dead centres this year and you don’t have time to divide and replant, just cut out the centre with a sharp shovel. The clump will stay the same diameter and remain healthy.


Along the Border

Now that many border flowers are fading, save yourself some work next year. Dig in a bit of compost in the bare spots and plant hardy annual seeds for an early crop of spring flowers. Biennials sown in August will flower next summer as will calendula. For something different, plant rainbow chard. As long as it doesn’t freeze it makes a cheerful winter border and offers tasty greens.


Planning Autumn Blooms

Plant autumn crocus ASAP. They need time to settle in and if planted late may exhaust their bulbs and not survive the winter.

Potted garden mums make a lovely show but some of these cool-weather bloomers have been sitting out in the August heat at the garden centre so their blooms will expire in 2-3 weeks. Wait until month end or even into September when the weather is cooler then choose pots with many half-opened flowers. You’ll get a nice, long show. Potted mums will over winter when pruned back and kept lightly moist in a sheltered spot. Plant out in spring for a mounding, open-topped plant with blooms less dense than on this year’s plant.


In the Veggie Patch

This is the last chance to plant strawberry runners. They need to make a crown by September to produce a crop next June.

It is not too late to plant beets, Asian and mustard greens, winter kale, mescluns, arugula, and lettuce.

Place a few small stones under pumpkins and winter squash to lift them up so they’re less likely to develop mold on the bottom before the skins can harden. When you harvest, remember to leave at least an inch of stem so there is no wound. Three days, when turned over at least once in the hot sun (perhaps on the edge of the driveway), will cure them well especially if you first spray them all over with a mild vinegar solution. It will kill bacteria and pest eggs, drive earwigs out of the deeper skin irregularities and toughen skins for better storage.


Green Groaner

Q: What happened to the gardener’s knee when she scraped it tripping over a rake?

A: It grew a scabiosa.


Philosophical Phertilizer

Cicero: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”