August is the time to sit back and enjoy what you have created. Even though the dog days of summer have gone (I should do a whole blog post on the true meaning of the dog days of summer), this time of the gardening year allows us a short time of pleasure before our fall work begins, so get out there and enjoy!
Our vegetable gardens are in full tilt right now. Anyone from New Jersey knows that you just can't beat the taste of a Jersey tomato, grown in your own back yard. My father's favorite summer sandwich was a freshly picked tomato from the garden, sliced and put between two slices of bread with a dab of Miracle Whip (and the tradition has carried down through the gene pool). Vegetable plants are in full production right now, so peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and other plants will probably give you more vegetables than you know what to do with. Please, please remember your local food bank. With the economy in the toilet, food banks are being used more than ever, and fresh produce is gratefully accepted. Since 1995, American gardeners have donated over 14 million pounds of herbs and vegetables to feed the hungry in our local neighborhoods and communities. For more information on Plant A Row, is a part of the Garden Writers Association, of which I am a member, go to http://www.gardenwriters.org/gwa.php?p=par/index.html for ways you can help. Even if your garden doesn't overflow with fruits and vegetables, you can help support the cause with a donation.
Now is also the time to grab a notebook, walk your property, and take note of your landscape plantings. Look at the plantings as a "whole", meaning take notice of what combination of plants that work well together and what ones don't work well. Remember that gardening is a learning experience, and not everything will work well in your specific conditions, even though it may work well in a book or TV show. It is okay, trust me. Also bring your camera and document with pictures your garden, so when the winter comes, you can look at these pictures and formulate your plan for the next growing season.
While you are walking, notice the beauty of the flowers around your property. When was the last time you looked closely at a certain flower, taking note of each individual characteristic? One of my favorite flowers (I have plenty) is the flower of the Buckeye tree (Aesculus glabra).
When you look up close at the flower, it is almost orchid-like and quite beautiful. When you drive by, you just see a clump of pinkish-red flowers on a tree. Sad part is I couldn't find an up close picture of the individual flower, but plenty of the clump or flowers in bloom on the tree. "Take time to stop and smell the roses" can also be retold as "Take time to stop and notice the individual beauty of the flowers". Do both at this time of year and appreciate what you have accomplished this year, Be happy, even if there are more challenges in your garden than you expected when spring came and look at them as opportunities for the garden next year.