If I had to choose one word to describe the August garden it would be abundance.

This month gives us nonstop veggies, fruit and flowers from the garden.

And while there are still regular maintenance chores, August is the month that I find the most time to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

My little container vegetable garden supplies a steady stream of tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce and peppers. A weekly trip to the farmers market nets me everything else I could possibly need. The perennial beds are producing more than enough flowers to keep a fresh bouquet on the table throughout the summer. The hydrangeas are at their peak and with so many varieties to choose from, I have decided you can never have too many.

With all the turmoil and uncertainty in the world, the garden has become even more essential to me. It is amazing how an hour spent pulling weeds, tending the vegetables or simply sitting outside viewing the garden calms and refreshes me. It may help that there is usually a cold beverage involved after the weeding and while sitting and enjoying, but you get the point.

While we are taking time to enjoy, here are some basic maintenance tasks that need to be done. Annuals can sometimes look a little worse for wear this month. The answer is almost always water and fertilize. Containers will most likely need to be watered daily in the summer heat. A 10-inch hanging basket in full sun may need ½ to 1 gallon of water a day. Some smaller hanging baskets may even need it twice a day. Keeping your flowering annuals fertilized is key to nonstop blooms.

Use a blossom booster fertilizer and follow the directions for amounts and frequency of application. Newly planted perennials, shrubs and trees will need regular watering also. A good rule is to water them 1-2 times a week, deeply. I always tell people not to rely on rainfall or an overhead irrigation system to water plants. It is always a good idea to check after a rain or an irrigation cycle to see how deep the water has penetrated. Remember that perennial, shrub and tree roots are much deeper than turfgrass. A good rule to follow is 3-5 gallons of water a week for newly planted trees and shrubs and slightly less for perennials.

Perennials do not need much maintenance except for weeding and deadheading. If it is very dry, established beds should be watered deeply but infrequently for the best root growth. The deeper plant roots grow, the more they can tolerate periods of drought with minimal negative impact.

As always, continue weeding the garden. Weeds compete with other plants for moisture and nutrients so keeping them under control makes more available for your garden plants. Adding a layer of mulch can help conserve moisture and keep weeds in check. It also makes the garden look fresh.

I hope you take some time to really enjoy your garden this month. After all, isn’t that the point of having one?

Until next time, I will see you in the garden.

Jeanine Rubert is co-owner of Pine Hill Nursery and Pine Hill Village Gardens, recipient of the 2015 TC Chamber of Commerce, Hagerty Insurance Small Business of the Year Award. She has lived and gardened in northern Michigan for 38 years. Reach her at jrubert@pinehill-nursery.com.

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