Hot, hot, hot-muggy, muggy, muggy are the words for Southwest Florida in August. It is one of our hottest, and holds the ever present beginning of our big hurricanes. When you do yard work, try doing it in the cool of the early morning, too many mosquitoes at dusk. Wear a broad-brimmed straw Florida hat to protect you from any sun. Stay hydrated. Avoid fire ants.
This is crazy month for weeds, bugs and grass growing. Battle bugs with soapy water and forget about oils that will focus the sun on cooking your plants. Fertilizer leaches out of our soil now and remember no nitrogen or phosphorous between June and September on lawns, it's the law. Spray Image as directed for any lawn sedge.
Mow, mow and mow. Leave your grass clippings to fertilize the lawn. Be careful in piling up fresh clippings on plant beds, they start to heat up. Have a spot for them to break down and work -out that heat, then, apply to plant beds. Mulching now helps it decompose just enough to last until the cool weather when it will last longer than summer mulch. Keep mulch 2 inches away from all trunks of ornamentals.
Stay in the air conditioning or relax poolside. Read the latest gardening books or plan any fall gardening. If you planning on vegetable gardening, now is the time to solarize the plot for 4 to 6 weeks for a big September/October planting for our main growing season.
Clip bushes and plants, pinch back mums and poinsettias, deadhead blooms and plant new trees, shrubs and perennials to get them established. Share flowering plants with the birds and butterflies. Keep birdbaths and feeders clean to prevent mold and fungus, harming our feathered friends. Keep standing water from accumulating to avoid the mosquitoes. Relax and enjoy your slice of paradise.
Things to do,
or places to go
n ECHO'S Global Farm Tour - 17391 Durrance Road, North Fort Myers. A unique attraction for Lee County. Take a 90-minute tour of the most creative working farm. Experience six settings of global farming, tasting leaves and berries while you explore rain-forest habitats, visit farm animals, see a simulated Haitian, urban farming techniques that allow rooftop gardening and learn about ECHO's mission to help the worldwide poor to help themselves. They raise and sell one of the largest collections of tropical food plants in Florida. From April through November, their tours are at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Allow 2 hours minimum. Sorry, self guided tours are not available. Cost: adults $10, children 6-12 $5 and children under 6, free. Senior citizen, military, AAA and group discounts available. Ramps and wheel chairs are available.
n Edison/Ford Winter Estates has Botanical Tours on Tuesdays and Saturdays. It includes a guided walk through the historic gardens of the Edison/Ford Estates and a behind the scenes tour of the greenhouse and propagating nursery. Guided tours are approximately 1 mile, 60 minutes. The cost is $20 adults, $11 children 6-12, and children under 6 are free. Group tours can be scheduled.
n Garden Tours are Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. Adults $40. River Cruises are available on Wednesday and Thursday. Adults $45, child $40. The estates are open daily 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is the winner of the 2009 National Stewardship Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It was an official project of "Save America's Treasures'" at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
ROTARY PARK - 5505 Rose Garden Road, Cape Coral. Butterfly House tours Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10:30 a.m., free, donations accepted
THE FOUR MILE COVE ECOLOGICAL PRESERVE - North of the Midpoint Bridge, east end of Southeast 23rd Terrace, Cape Coral. Free hiking trails and enjoy nature.
J.N. DING DARLING NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE - Offers ways to see nature from your car, bicycle or by foot. Has an Education Center. The entrance off of Sanibel-Captiva Road, 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel.
MANATEE PARK - Group programs offered on butterflies and habitat walks available upon request. Kayak rentals available on week-ends with advance reservations. It's located at 10901State Road 80, east of I 75, exit 141.
SANIBEL-CAPTIVA CONSERVATION FOUNDATION - Trails and nature center open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. It's located at 3333 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel.
Friday, Aug. 2 - Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Class. Learn the nine principles to having a Florida Friendly Yard. Hurricane resistant trees and plants, as well as proper maintenance, efficient irrigation, proper mulching and techniques to save your money and obtain a beautiful and healthy yard. The class meets from 1-4 p.m., $8, at the Lee County Extension Office, 3406 Palm Beach Blvd., Fort Myers
Be safe! Thursday, Aug. 8, is the first day of school - watch out for children walking to school, or waiting for buses.
Stay cool and hydrated and be sure and thank a plant or tree for our healthy fresh air.
Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener; FM/LC Garden Council, District IX Arbor Day Chairman; Hibiscus enthusiast; and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.