Gardener's Calendar

 

The Gardener's Calendar is a by-the-month calendar for gardening events in the Chicago are, zones 4 and 5.  For easy access just click on the monthly buttons below to go directly to the calendar of your choice.  This section is new with the first entry in May.  Every month a new entry will be added until a full year of gardening suggestions is available.

 

 

AUGUST GARDEN "TO DO" LIST

 

GENERAL GARDEN CARE

  • This is NOT the time to move plants however it is a GREAT time to Plant new things!

  • Inspect for insects on all your plants.  First priority is watering ALL newly planted trees and shrubs and lawns.

  • Pruning is not advised this month, with the exception of shrubs that have just flowered.

  • Mark your gardens with small stakes to note where fall planted bulbs should go.  Order Spring Bulbs.

  • Trim up flower bed edges as they tend to get ragged this time of the season.

  • Cut blooming flowers to bring indoors.

 

WEED, WEED, WEED      WATER, WATER, WATER

ANNUAL AND PERENNIALS

  • DO NOT fertilize ROSES after August 1st.  Deadhead back to the first set of five leaflets and monitor for Black spot. 

  • Continue to deadhead to promote additional flowering.

  • Prune back annuals that are ‘leggy’ and fertilize with ¼ strength fertilizer twice this month.

  • Plant chrysanthemums and asters.  The earlier the mum is planted the greater the chance of it surviving the winter.  Mulch well.

  • Daylilies will need to have spent flowers and seed heads removed.  Green leaves must remain for photosynthesis. 

  • Feed acid loving plants one more time before fall:  Rhododendrons, azaleas

 

End of Month

  • Daylilies may be divided and replanted.

  • Peonies can be planted.

 

LAWN CARE

  • Mow high, 2 ½ -3 inches, leave grass clippings on lawn but not clumped. 

  • August 15 to September 7th is the best time to seed in Northern Illinois.  Recommendation is mix of Kentucky blue grass, perennial rye and fescue.  Water, water!

  • Grub damage will begin to show up this month as browned out areas or chewed up sections from skunks, raccoons tearing up the grass in search of grubs.

  •  Grass will go dormant and yellow in color in times of drought but will return with rainfall.

 

FRUIT, VEGETABLE, AND HERB CARE

  • Time to PLANT:  snap beans, cabbages, broccoli, carrots, spinach, radishes and lettuces for fall harvest.

  • Keep picking vegetables to keep them producing.

  • Giant squashes will have little or no flavor, pick early.

  • Tomatoes are VERY moisture sensitive…monitor blossom end rot,

  • Keep records for next year's garden plan.

 

INDOOR GARDEN

  • Hot summer sun through your windows can affect leaves.  Move to safety.

  • Continue to check for insects.

 

 HINTS

  • DONATE extra garden veggies to those in need!  Find a Food Pantry

  • Check out:  University of Illinois Extension website for Common Problems for Vegetable Crops.

 

extension.illinois.edu/vegproblems 

 

https://www.chicagobotanic.org/plantinfo/checklist

 

http://chicagolandgardening.com/index.php/web/read/august-what-to-do-in-the-garden

SEPTEMBER GARDEN "TO DO" LIST

GENERAL GARDEN CARE

  • Time to plant trees and shrubs when they undergo color change.

  • Avoid pruning at this time

  • Control Poison Ivy before it goes dormant

  • Dig and store summer flowering bulbs

  • Save seeds from favorite self-pollinating non-hybrid flowers

  • Begin Compost heap if you do not already have one!

  • Continue to water trees and shrubs until ground freezes

 ANNUAL AND PERENNIALS:

  • Transplant and divide at this time.

  • Best time to divide peonies, 3-5 eyes, plant no more than 2 inches deep

  • Plant mums early so they have a chance to root and weather the winter

  • Do not cut back perennials until they leaves and stems have lost green color

LAWN CARE

  • Change mowing height to 2 inches

  • Fertilize Early in the month….MOST important application of the year

  • Reseed thin areas of lawn

  • Core aerate

FRUIT, VEGETABLE, AND HERB CARE

  • Continue harvesting to have productive plants

  • Add compost to garden beds

  • Seed bare garden areas with winter rye or barley for a winter cover crop.

  • Fall crop of spinach and leafy veggies

  • Harvest herbs and hang upside down to dry in dark space.

INDOOR GARDEN

  • Start preparing houseplants for the return to indoors. Check insects, clean leaves and containers, sheltered area.

  • Begin your 2-3 mo. Dormancy for amaryllis bulbs.  Stash in a cool dark place NO watering. 

  • Pot your Rosemary basil oregano chives for indoor winter use.

HINTS:

  • Swap out your container plants for frost tolerant mums, pansies and flowering kale.

  • Use same soil and compost the disease free annuals.  Time for a NEW LOOK!

  • Water your trees and shrubs so they are hydrated for winter

  • Average frost date is October 11-20

  • Order your garlic bulbs for mid October planting

         http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/homeowners/100909.html

 

         https://www.chicagobotanic.org/plantinfo/checklist

OCTOBER GARDEN "TO DO" LIST

 

GENERAL GARDEN CARE

  • CONTINUE to get that ONE inch of water a week on your perennials, flowers, shrubs and trees, especially if they are newly transplanted.  GRAB YOUR HOSE!

  • Apply anti-transpirants to your broad-leaved evergreens that are located in windy areas.  This will slow down water loss through the needles.  They may also be wrapped in burlap.

  • You may want to wrap your young trees and shrubs in poultry wired or hardware cloth to protect them from rabbits and vole damage.

  • Winterize aquatic gardens.

  • Save shredded leaves for mulching in November.

  • Clean birdbaths.

 

ANNUAL AND PERENNIALS:

  • The end of fall, what a great season this was!  Make notes of what you did well and what you want to improve on.

  • Clean up your plant debris from the garden or you may want to consider leave some plant remnants for winter interest.  It does provide food for wildlife.

  • Continue to add to the compost pile with shredded leaves.  Till compost.

  • NOT TOO LATE TO PLANT SPRING BULBS!  Plant until the ground freezes.

  • A few weeks after a killing frost, lift and store your dahlias and cannas.

 

LAWN CARE

  • Continue mowing @ 2 inches until the grass is dormant.

 

FRUIT, VEGETABLE, AND HERB CARE

  • Plant your seed GARLIC.

  • Plant your MILKWEED.

  • Harvest PUMPKINS before a frost.

  • Ripen GREEN TOMATOES

    • Save only mature green tomatoes.

    • Place tomatoes in a cardboard box lined with newspaper, leave a little space between the fruit for air circulation.  Cover with newspaper.  Repeat second and third layer covering each with newspaper.  Cover box.

    • Store at 70-80 degrees to ripen in about two weeks.

    • Store at 60-70 degrees and 50-60 degrees for successive ripening.

    • A Banana in the box will turn the tomatoes red quicker due to the natural ethylene in banana’s to speed up the ripening.

 

INDOOR GARDEN

  • Acclimate plants indoors and rescue some favorites from the frost.

 

HINTS:

  • Soilless mix from containers can be discarded or kept aside for one more year.  If used again, mix equal parts of old and new mix.

  • Clean ceramic, cement, terra cotta containers and store in frost free space.

http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/homeowners/041009.html

 

https://www.chicagobotanic.org/plantinfo/checklist

NOVEMBER GARDEN "TO DO" LIST

 

GENERAL GARDEN CARE

  • CONTINUE to WATER as long as the soil is not frozen and evergreens are getting at least ONE inch of water every two week.  DO NOT put the hose away YET!

  • Disconnect outside water sources, drain hoses, store indoors.

  • Sharpen and oil tools.

  • Check expiration date on herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers to make sure they are still viable.

  • Clean and refill bird feeders.

 

ANNUAL AND PERENNIALS:

  • MULCH flowerbeds and roses with loose wood chips, pine needles or shredded leaves.

  • Plants MUST BE completely dormant before mulching.  This may especially help chrysanthemums, which tend to die in winter due to the soil being too wet.

 

LAWN CARE

  • Continue mowing @ 2 inches until the grass almost dormant then last cut should be quite short.  This helps reduce snow mold fungus.

  • Fertilize a final time after the last mowing with a slow release organic 4-1-2 or 3-1-2 ratio to help green up the lawn faster in spring.

 

INDOOR GARDEN

  • Pot up amaryllis, paper whites and other bulbs for holiday bloom.

  • Try to wash plants occasionally with a warm shower.  Humidifiers and pebble trays raise humidity.

  • Continue fertilizing orchids with dilute orchid fertilizer until flower buds are set.  Check southern exposure so it does not scorch foliage.

 

HINTS

  • Best time to do a soil test is September through December.

 

https://extension.illinois.edu/soiltest/

 

https://www.chicagobotanic.org/plantinfo/checklist/november

DECEMBER GARDEN "TO DO" LIST

 

GENERAL GARDEN CARE

  • If it snows avoid using salt-based de-icing products in or around garden areas.

  • Shovel snow before it freezes on sidewalks and sprinkle sand on sidewalks for traction.

  • When shoveling, try to distribute snow equally on garden plants instead of piling it all against  foundation planting or in the root zone of only one tree.

  • Maintain a supply of water for the birds.

  • Clean and refill bird feeders.

  • Ice accumulation on tree branches should be left to melt.

  • Immediately prune back branches damaged by snow and ice.

  • For heavy snows, remove snow loads from evergreens by gently sweeping snow off with a broom.

  • Continue to monitor rodent and animal damage on plantings in yard.

 

ANNUAL AND PERENNIALS:

  • LIGHT pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs can be done this month.

 

LAWN CARE

  • Continue mowing @ 2 inches until the grass is almost dormant then last cut should be quite short.  This helps reduce snow mold fungus.

  • Fungus can also develop if excess garden debris and fallen leaves are left on grass over winter.

  • Avoid walking on frozen grass because it breaks the blades and mats down turf.

 

INDOOR GARDEN

  • Monitor plants for insect problems.

  • Choosing your Christmas Tree:

    • Choose trees with firm needles that do not drop off.

    • The bottom stump should be moist with some sap.

    • Balsam and White Fir; red, white, Scot pines & Douglas Fir retain Needles the longest.

    • Cut an additional 2 inches off the stump and plunge in warm water.

    • Keep stand full of water.  It can take up as much as a gallon/day.

    • Dry trees are fire hazards.

 

https://www.chicagobotanic.org/plantinfo/checklist/december