Garden tasks for the heat of the summer

1. Mulch and water: Your vegetable garden, landscape, flowerbeds and trees need some help to make it through this torrid month. Mulch generously, and water deeply.

2. Lawn care: Your grass also needs deep, infrequent watering (5 day schedule) and keep the cutting height for your lawnmower as high as possible. This will help shade the roots and conserve water.

3. Vegetables: This is the month to start sweet corn, okra, snap beans, cream peas and black-eyed peas from seed. Because the first frost (on average Nov. 27) is likely to occur within 120 days, use transplants for your peppers and tomatoes. During the second half of this month, plant your broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

4. Survive! While it is nice of you to nurse your plants through this brutal month, it is perhaps even more important that you look after yourself. Here are three gardening rules for August:
A. Garden early in the morning.
B. Wear sunscreen and a large brimmed hat. C. Drink gallons of water.


For the Birds in the Heat of the Summer

1. Water: Set up a birdbath in your garden. Keep it topped up every day, and clean once a week. Keep the area nearby clear, so that predatory cats have nowhere to hide. 

2. Food: Help our feathered friends survive with good quality seeds. Buy in bulk from feed stores to save money.

3. Hummingbirds: Mix 4 parts water to 1 part sugar and place in a feeder, and enjoy the magic of the visiting hummers. Make sure your feeder is red (their favorite color), and you can tie a red ribbon nearby to help them find their way.

4. Brush piles: While out in the yard, create little brush piles here and there out of twigs and branches. This will protect the birds so they can feed on the ground, and if a cat appears or a hawk swoops down, they’ll have somewhere to retreat. 

5. Native landscapes: Our native birds grew up with native berries, and they are the best form of nourishment. Keep this in mind when shopping for plants.  Sunflowers, salvias, yaupon holly, possum haw holly, agarita, coral berry, American beautyberry and Turks caps are all good choices. (More details at Happy Gardening Everyone.

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