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Garden? Are you kidding? It's too hot to garden
By George Boyhan
University of Georgia

My wife asked how the herbs were doing in the garden, and I said, "I don't know, and I don't care!" With temperatures routinely hovering around 100 degrees, as my neighbor observed, you just hunker down in the air conditioning.

It's too hot to garden.

However, if you're going to be an absolute fanatic about it, August is the time to prepare for a fall garden. Soil testing and land preparation are important things to do this month.

In the latter part of the month, you can direct-seed many of the brassicas, such as cabbage, collards and kale. But remember how hot it is. You have to keep the seeds evenly moist to make sure they germinate. And with soil temperatures hitting 100 at 4 inches deep, you have to water them regularly after that to prevent drought stress.

September jobs

Onions, lettuce, carrots and spinach can be seeded in September. If you seed onions in high-density seed beds in September, you'll have to transplant them in November or December. If you want to direct-seed your onions without transplanting them, you can wait until October to do that.

Many garden centers, feed-and-seed stores and home improvement centers will have transplants available for fall gardens. When the weather is hot, however, you always have to take special care to make sure they don't suffer drought stress.

Insects can be particularly problematic at this time of year. They've had all spring and summer to increase their numbers. So careful, regular scouting for insects is a must. And don't wait at all if a problem arises. Take prompt action keep the insects from wiping you out.

Keep cool

Don't forget about your own comfort and stress in this weather, either. The best time to get in the garden is at dawn. It's the coolest part of the day, and you can get a couple of hours of work done.

I wouldn't recommend staying out past noon. Midmorning would be better. The weather has been so hot that late-evening work isn't even possible. At my house, the temperature has been above 90 degrees at 8 p.m.

When you do get out in the garden, drink plenty of water, wear a hat and use sunscreen. If you feel yourself getting overheated, get inside and cool down. There's no use in killing yourself.

Besides, this is a good time of year to hunker down in the air conditioning and read about gardening.

(George Boyhan is a Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(George Boyhan is a Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences)

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