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Time to enjoy. But there's still a chance to plant.

Time to enjoy. But there's still a chance to plant

August is prime time in mountain gardens for harvesting fruit, flowers, and vegetables. If you have time left over, there's some planting to do.

The grass is often greener if you raise the mower height

If your lawn mower is set to cut at 1 inch, you may be working too hard to keep your bluegrass turf looking its best. Horticulturist Otto Dahl of Laramie, Wyoming, observed that a number of short-cropped Laramie lawns had turned light brown after some hot days in August. According to Dahl, these scalped lawns dry out faster and weed seeds have a better chance to germinate in them.

Setting your mower just 1/2 inch higher makes a big difference, because the grass is better able to shade itself. Or set the mower blade at 2 to 2 1/2 inches--the higher you can set it, the less thirsty and the more weed-resistant your lawn will be.

Bluegrass roots extend down 6 to 8 inches. Water at least that deeply about once a week or every 10 days.

When the blossom ends of your tomatoes shrink and get brown . . .

If you discover dark, sunken circles forming at the ends of ripening tomatoes, suspect blossom end rot. (Also susceptible are pepper, squash, watermelon, and eggplant. This noninfectious disease occurs when a plant can't supply enough calcium to its developing fruits--even if there's plenty of calcium in the soil. It's often touched off when the plant grows like gangbusters in very moist soil, then comes to a sudden halt as soil dries out during hot weather.

The very first fruits tend to rot; if you can keep the plant growing at a steady pace, subsequent ones are usually unaffected. A mulch, such as a 6- to 8-inch layer of straw, helps keep soil consistently moist. Water deeply at 10-day to two-week intervals (this also pushes soil salts below the plant's root zone, where they're less likely to tie up calcium). If the malady seems severe, apply a dose of calcium nitrate and water it in well.

Photo: Mountainous landscape in Cherry Hills, Colorado, has a rock and cobble mulch that surrounds spreading buffalo junipers (Juniperus sabina "Buffalo'), a porcupine-like clump of blue avena grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens), and short mugho pines (Pinus mugo mugo). A double-leader European mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia) and ponderosa pines rise behind. Plant out from containers in August, so roots start growing into soil before freezes come. Landscape architect: Chris G. Moritz
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Date:Aug 1, 1984
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