A Note from Rick | August at Bridge Gardens

August 13, 2020

By Rick Bogusch, Kathleen Kennedy

Bridge Gardens

It All Comes Together in August.

Midsummer is indeed a time for abundance, especially in the vegetable garden. Beets, carrots, green beans and squash are still producing and have been joined (finally!) by tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and basil. It’s too early to tell what tomatoes will do the best, but I’m impressed by a beefsteak variety called Buffalo Steak, which has performed well here for three summers.

Peppers started producing early this year. The easiest to grow is Shishito, below left, which produces loads of fruit from a few plants all season long. With so many fruits, you’ll get tired of picking them! Grilled or sauteed whole, seeds and all, with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, shishito peppers taste like summer. Easy eggplants to grow are Orient Express (long, narrow) and Nadia (traditional Italian) shown right, and we like Dark Star zucchini and Slick-Pik yellow squash for toughness, vigor and lots of fruit.

It gets harder and harder every year to grow basil. Diseases like downy mildew and fusarium wilt run rampant in hot, humid weather and turn those wonderfully aromatic leaves unuseable. Disease-resistant varieties have been developed, but they are still quite pricey. So far this year, they have proven their worth here at Bridge Gardens, and have provided a steady supply of basil with no signs of stopping and no signs of disease. These luscious basil, sourced through Johnny’s Seed catalog, are called Prospera, Obsession and Devotion and are happy paired with kale and coriander.

July and August are lily months and there are some beauties in the border right now. Tall, pure white and fragrant, they are a variety called Casa Blanca that have bloomed here for five years, a worthwhile horticultural investment.

Accompanying the lilies are many perennials and annuals, native and exotic. A favorite is a flowering tobacco known as Langsdorff’s tobacco (Nicotiana langsdorffii), whose drooping green bells brighten any color scheme and will delight you all season. They self-sow easily and you’ll be happy to have these for years to come.

I think one of the best features of Bridge Gardens right now is its many foliage textures and shades of green. Ferns, grasses and wildflowers create interest in sun and in shade and prove the old adage that green is a color, too.

Two natives that look good together from this perspective are switchgrass, a tall, blue-leaved variety called ‘North Wind,’ and showy milkweed, with its bright green leaves and clusters of bright pink flowers. Showy milkweed self-sows and has planted itself here among the clumps of switch grasses to make a pleasing combination.

There’s much to see at Bridge Gardens at the height of the summer! And there will continue to be for months to come. I hope to see you again and again in the gardens.

What Should You Be Doing Now?

  • Now is the time to get your next vegetable garden growing! Sow these seeds now for autumn harvest: green beans, radishes, lettuces, kohlrabi, peas, kale and radicchio can all go in this month. Add root vegetables like beets, carrots, parsnips and radish, and you’ll be harvesting late into the autumn season.
  • Order seed garlic to plant this fall! Garlic cloves need to go in the ground in our area by November 1, and are harvested in early July.
  • Keep up your weeding throughout your landscape to remove plants before they set seeds that will torment you next year. Here at Bridge Gardens, we’re grateful for our regular team of volunteers who help us keep the gardens looking their best!
  • Add a layer of compost and/or an organic slow release fertilizer to your beds to continue to build your soil.
  • Remove seed heads from self-seeding plants to help them behave well next year.

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