Dry or freeze herbs for later use
During the first week of August, plant short-season snap beans, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, carrots, mustard greens, spinach and radishes for fall harvesting. Continue to harvest herbs by either snipping foliage, drying entire sprigs or plants or freezing individual portions in ice-cube trays. Pinch off developing flowers to retain essential oils and flavor in the plants' foliage.
• Install pegboard on the walls of your garage to hang garden tools. They will take up less space hanging on the wall and will be easier to access. It is also a good practice to clean tools before putting them away. Remember to sharpen your tools on a regular basis to make your gardening tasks easier. New spades will also need sharpening.
• If your container plants are not performing well with stunted plants and/or yellowing leaves, the plants may need some fertilizer. The regular watering of containers will leach nutrients out of the growing medium. leaving the plants "hungry." The containers should be moist when fertilized to avoid burning the plants.
• Mow your lawns at 3 to 3½ inches to help the turf deal with the stress of hot and dry weather in summer. I do not water my lawn and, as the growth has slowed down, I have been able to switch to mowing once every two weeks.
• You may find cicada killer wasps nesting in brick driveways and patios or in open beds. Cicada killers are large, about 2 inches long and a black to red color, with yellow banded markings on the abdomen. The head and transparent wings are reddish brown. The females dig a 6- to-10-inch deep burrow that is about a half inch wide, leaving a small pile of soil by the entrance. They sting a large insect like a cicada and bring it back to the burrow to lay an egg on it. The male wasps will buzz you if you enter their territory but cannot sting and the females are not aggressive. There is no need to control them.
• Tim Johnson is director of horticulture at Chicago Botanic Garden, chicagobotanic.org.