The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Day of the Total Eclipse of the Sun: on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a red-letter day on the solar calendar will be next Monday. The partial eclipse of the sun will occur in our area, but for a total of a little over two minutes, the son will be in total eclipse in the cities of Charleston and Columbia, S.C. This will be a very rare event for our area of the United States. Be careful when watching the eclipse to use special eye protection and never look directly at the sun even for a few seconds. Remember: If you are in Myrtle Beach that week on vacation, take the trip up U.S. 17 to Charleston, S.C. (less than 60 miles) to see this extra-special event of a lifetime.

Keeping records of morning fogs of August: We hope you are having keeping records of the morning fogs of the month of August 2017 in your garden notebook. They could indicate the depth of and the number of snows we receive this winter. My grandma in Northampton County always rose from sleep every morning at 5:00 a.m. Her first chore of the days during August was to check and record the fogs of each morning in August. Combining these fog events and her almanac information, she was right (and many times she was!), she would be sure everyone in her family knew about it!

The impatiens of summer are putting on a colorful show. The annual named impatiens puts on a pretty show of color all the way until the first frost. Colors of bright red, deep red, white, purple, orange, salmon pink and burgundy adorn pots and hanging baskets. Keep them watered each evening and fertilize them with liquid or pellet fertilizer of place two or three fertilizer pep sticks in each pot every two weeks. Water each evening until water runs out the holes in the bottom of the containers.

Keeping the colorful coleus thriving: Nothing says summer like the beautiful coleus, or “Joseph’s Coat.” The secret of growth and color is to pinch off the seed flowers which are lavender to keep the producing leaves. Eater the coleus every evening and fertilize every two weeks. If you have room inside your home, you can also winter a coleus over. Coleus come in colors of wine, cream, yellow, rose, burgundy and mint green.

Heavy dews on a midsummer morning are paving the way to autumn: Legend says that the dews of August are cooler and heavier. The August dews hang around longer because of the fact the August dew is cooler. This cool dew sends a subtle message to the summer lawn to slow down and increase production of seeds. Now that Dog Days are over, we can see more sneaky hints of autumn coming.

Thinking cool in the middle of August: Keeping your mind filled with the thoughts of snow is a great way to stay cool in the hot-ties of August. I think my grandmother in Northampton County must have had this in mind when she counted the fogs during the month of August when she rose with the morning sun. This was the day before homes had air conditioning! Even though in this 21st Century when most homes enjoy air conditioning, it is good to think snow and do the math on August fogs and their connection to winter snow falls while playing cool mind games!

Broccoli, Cabbage and Collard plants are now appearing in seed shops and hardware’s: The four and six-packs of cabbage, broccoli and collard plants are showing up in hardware stores and seed shops. There are plenty of warm days left but it’s not too early to set out these cool family vegetables. Here are a few hints to get them off to a good start: 1) apply a handful or two of peat moss and mix into the soil when you set out these plants. 2) Moisten the soil-peat moss mixture before covering the plants. 3) Use a water wand on “shower” mode or a sprinkler can to water the plants and cool them off each evening. ) Watch for insects and cabbage butterflies and spray a light mist of liquid Sevin on the leaves if you see any evidence of them. 5) Keep soil hilled up on each side for protection from wind and late summer storms. 6) Feed with liquid fertilizer once a week.

Setting out late, late tomato plants for a harvest of green before frost: If you started Rutgers, Homestead or Marglobe tomatoes from seed last month, they should not be ready to transplant to the garden. They will have a couple of months and plenty of warm days remaining to produce green tomatoes to harvest before a killing frost in late October. Keep fertilizing them with Miracle-Gro liquid tomato fertilizer or Vigoro pellet tomato fertilizer and water them if it doesn’t rain on them every few days. As your other tomatoes finish producing, remove their cages and supports and place them on these late, late tomatoes. Keep soil hilled up around them for extra support.

Trimming Panda and Asparagus ferns: These ferns have been thriving on the porch and deck since mid-spring. To keep them healthy and lush, keep long runners trimmed back to shape them and promote more bushy growth. These ferns can become perennial when moved to a semi-sunny and water once a week. Apply liquid fertilizer twice a month.

Enjoying the beauty and colors of the rose moss: This pretty cactus-type flower has several names. In the south it is known as rose moss, in Texas and Oklahoma, it is called desert rose, and on seed packets, it is named Portulaca. It produces new flowers each day for a rainbow of color. You can purchase rose moss in six or twelve packs. Unlike other annuals where two or three plants will cover a pot or container, with rose moss the spread over the containers which makes it possible to place twelve or more plants in containers. Colors of red, yellow, white, orange, coral, rust, pink and wine all come in each twelve pack. An advantage is they are in bloom when you purchase them so you will definitely know what you are getting.

Ray Baird