Ok, watering is limited, eating dinner outside- still not an option, and don’t even think of planting. What’s a gardener to do in August and September?
There is some routine maintenance necessary. Trim dead material off plants. Put trimmings in compost pile. Turn the compost pile. Use your kitchen sink grey water to soak the compost. Do this only if you use environmentally friendly soaps, i.e. low to no salts, no phosphates, no artificial dyes or perfumes. After trimming non-necessary plant material, give your garden a good shower. Fill a hose end sprayer with liquid seaweed and spray the garden down for heat stress relief. Plants can take water and nutrients in through openings in the leaves. This is like us drinking electrolyte filled sports water after working outside all day. A good boost for the weary.
Mulch your larger woody plants. Soak soil around needy plants and then mulch around their base. Soaking first is important so the mulch can do its job and keep the soil moist. Do not put mulch right up next to trunk, smaller shrubs and trees start 2-4 inches from base. Large shrubs and trees, 4-6 inches from the base. Mulch out as close to the drip line as possible (drip line being the edge of the leaf span) and mulch 2-3 inches deep. No deeper or the mulch will absorb all water before it gets down to the roots when watering.
Prepare your fall/winter vegetable garden for planting. Remove spent summer plants, add fresh compost, and till or stir the soil up. Spray it down with water and cover with mulch to let rest while you make your list. Use a larger mulch such as shredded cypress or seedless hay. Many nurseries have fall veggies in stock. Its ok to plant now. Just be sure to water every other day. If temperatures climb back up to the 100s, you may have to put a shade cloth over the new babies.
Drink water! Just because the temps have dropped below 100 does not mean we are at less risk of overheating. The relative humidity is still low, and though it feels better, 97 is still pretty hot.
Take note of beautiful fall bloomers:
Gayfeather (liatris) is starting to pop
Texas sage (when the barometric pressure changes)
Spider lily (if you find a wet spot)