As we move into the lazy hazy days of August I can’t help thinking that I haven’t even scratched the surface of my own summer to-do list. Aaack... I not only have people and places that I haven’t had a chance to visit yet but I have painting, editing and sorting that I haven’t even put a small dent in.
So much for the lazy part, though I have had my eye on one of those hammock chairs…I tried one out and it is just perfect for reading…which is just one more thing I haven’t had a chance to do much of this summer. Actually when you think of it…those are not too terribly bad as far as problems go eh? Here is YOUR list… I’ve got my own.
At stage 3 water restrictions there is not much to do. But there are a few more things that you want to try to avoid if you can, like heavy traffic, compacting, fertilizing and or spraying chemicals on your dormant lawn. If you really miss the green, you can buy a non-toxic green lawn spray paint. You can also use "gray-water". Think lightly used bathtub water or cleanish-water after the dishes. However, stay away from using heavily contaminated or soaped-up water in your lawn or plants.
Trees and Shrubs
You can still hand water trees and shrubs. Now is also a good time to do a little bit of thinning on fruit trees, Japanese Maples and Birch Trees if needed, as well as vines, of course. Remember to use proper pruning techniques and to remove branches no bigger than your thumb in thickness. Also follow the never more than 1/3 of the tree rule though I would adjust that to ¼ of the tree or shrub at this time for summer pruning.
Remember you do summer pruning to slow the growth of your tree or shrub while winter pruning invigorates growth. So if you have a young tree that you want to encourage growth, do not prune at this time. If you have an old fruit tree, vine or Japanese maple that you want to slow the growth of and thin them out a bit, then now is a pretty good time to do a light prune. Remember…the right tool for the right job…no hacksaws…don’t make me come over there…you know who you are.
Veggie and Flower Gardens
You are still allowed to hand water at this time. With your veggies, you are in harvest mode and with flower gardens you are in deadhead mode. You can add mulch to keep the moisture in the ground. The brighter side is that weeding stays weeded for the most part!! There are some winter crops that you can begin planting right now such as kale, pac choi, carrots and other worthwhile goodies, provided you can keep up with the hand watering.
During the really long hot stretches consider moving them to slightly shadier positions and preferably grouping them. Once a week you might also want to sit them in a tray of water. Clipping back, deadheading and fertilizing will keep them looking healthy. I have actually changed from having the high up hanging baskets to having a lower hanger where I look down on my lovely planters rather than having them hanging on either side of the garage! Continue to feed as required. When a hanging basket stops flowering, it usually means it ran out of food!
Keep our feathered and 4 footed friends in mind at this time. I have a couple of water bowls as well as birdbaths out for the birds and one out front for the other evening critters like the raccoons and the skunk down the road that I top up each day and they do get used!! Pools and ponds are drying up and an increasing number of urban wild critters are getting flattened on the roads as they are forced to travel farther distances to get to water sources.
You might want to put out an extra hummingbird feeder or two as well as many of the flower nectar sources are having a very compressed season of bloom.
Bears might be coming down out of the mountains earlier than usual and please do help to keep them alive by securing your garbage and compost bins…that might even mean bringing them in to the garage. You can try to cut down on the compost bin smell by sprinkling with a layer of pine shavings every now and again as I have them handy for the 2 chinchillas I inherited the bales are pretty cheap and you can get them from your local feed store. It’s not perfect but it does help a bit. I know some folks use shredded paper but that helps more with the smaller kitchen catchers.
Between this list and your OWN summer to-do list you should have enough on your plate. Remember to take time to smell the roses…literally and take a moment, even if it’s just one where you can be quiet and still and just breathe in the summer because it will not be here for long and you will need to keep a little bit of it in your heart for those long dark November days.
Alright I know… lighten up, but I just went to Costco where they already have puffy jackets, Christmas lights and more ... I was feeling a bit glum and now I am trying not to make eye contact with the Costco-sized jar of Nutella… uh oh.