Visit the horticultural exhibits at the Indiana State Fair, Aug. 3-19. Bring your gardening questions to the Purdue Master Gardener booth in the DuPont Food Pavilion.
Take cuttings from plants such as impatiens, coleus, geraniums and wax begonias to overwinter indoors. Root the cuttings in media such as moist vermiculite, perlite, peat moss or potting soil, rather than water.
Order spring-flowering bulbs for fall planting.
Cut flowers from the garden to bring a little color indoors or to dry for everlasting arrangements.
YARD (Lawns, woody ornamentals and fruits)
Newly established plants are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat and drought. If possible, apply 1 to 1.5 inches of water every 7 to 10 days as a gentle, thorough soaking.
Even well-established trees, shrubs and perennials will suffer from extreme heat coupled with drought. Symptoms may include wilting, leaf scorch, branch dieback, blossom drop, early "fall" color and leaf drop, and in some cases, plant death of specimens that were already ailing.
Check trees and shrubs that have been planted in recent years for girdling damage by guy wires, burlap or ropes.
Don't fertilize woody plants now. It stimulates late growth that will not have time to harden off properly before winter.
Hand-prune and destroy bagworms, fall webworms and tent caterpillars.
If you are lucky enough to have pears this year, they are best ripened off the tree, so do not wait for the fruit to turn yellowish on the tree. Harvest pears when color of fruit changes--usually from a dark green to a lighter green--and when the fruit is easily twisted and removed from the spur.
Prune out and destroy the raspberry and blackberry canes that bore fruits this year. They will not produce fruit again next year, but they may harbor insect and disease organisms.
Although mid August through mid September is the usual time to begin seeding new lawns or bare spots in established lawns, this year’s extended heat and drought will require waiting for more favorable conditions to return. Stay informed at purdueturftips.blogspot.com.
GARDEN (Vegetables, small fruits and flowers)
Temperatures above 90 F often leads to poor fruit set in most vegetable crops; upper 90s will stop fruit set in nearly all crops. Fruits that were already set may show uneven ripening, blossom-end rot, skin cracking, sunburn where foliage cover is poor, poor ear fill in corn and bitter flavor in cucumbers and other vegetables.
Keep the garden well watered during dry weather and free of weeds, insects and disease. Early morning is the best time to water, but areas under watering restrictions may need to adjust accordingly. While normally we discourage overhead sprinkling due to its inefficiency and potential for promoting plant disease, it can be very effective at decreasing temperature in the plant tissue.
The extended heat and drought may necessitate a delay in planting your fall vegetable garden until temperatures are generally below 90 F for direct-seeding carrots, beets, kohlrabi, kale and snap beans. Wait until temperatures drop at least to the low 80s to plant lettuce, spinach, radishes and green onions.
Onions and potatoes may be dying back earlier than usual due to the heat and drought. Harvest onions after the tops yellow and fall, then cure them in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area. The necks should be free of moisture when fully cured, in about a week's time.
Harvest potatoes after the tops yellow and die. Potatoes also need to be cured before storage.
Pick beans, tomatoes, peppers and squash often to encourage further production.
Harvest watermelon when several factors indicate ripeness--the underside ground spot turns from whitish to creamy yellow, the tendril closest to the melon turns brown and shrivels, the rind loses its gloss and appears dull, and the melon produces a dull thud rather than a ringing sound when thumped.
Harvest sweet corn when kernels are plump and ooze a milky juice when punctured with your fingernail. If the liquid is watery, you’re too early; if the kernels are doughy, you're too late.
Keep faded flowers pinched off bedding plants to promote further flowering and improve plant appearance.