I know all too well how easy it is to let the garden go in the “dog days of summer.” Don’t give up on your hard work yet! Here are 5 important things to check off your to-do list for a healthy August garden.
It’s easy to be all gung-ho at the beginning of the planting season when it’s all new and exciting.
Planting seedlings or seeds gives you visions of a summer and fall bounty, but what about the August garden? There are some important things you can do to make that vision happen.
1. Harvest frequently
If you keep up with your harvest, then you won’t have to spend hours on the weekend gathering it and throwing a bunch away.
It’s easy to do, and I’ve done it way too much. I absolutely hate wasting, especially when I so carefully grew most of it from seed. So to see a perfect tomato half-eaten by insects or covered with mold, well it stinks.
Try to do it at least every other day, or get some help.
Hubby or kids can’t help? Open a bottle of wine and invite a friend to help. You can catch up, and they can take home some of your bounties. 🙂
Frequently harvesting your August garden will only maximize flavor and continue growth for more harvesting!
2. Continue to monitor for diseases or insects
Although I plant 100% organic, meaning zero pesticides, fungicides, or any other kind of “icide” at all, I still monitor for insects and diseases.
If potato bugs are infesting my potatoes, I will turn to my Palmolive and water mixture and gently spray the plant for a couple of days. I then give it a rest and spray more if needed.
If there are a ton of slugs, I may bury a half cup of beer in the ground, where they will be attracted to it but not able to get out.
Normally I only had a problem with slugs when I had two huge rows of strawberries, but I still check.
I’ll let a small-to-normal amount of insects in my garden, as that’s what makes it a natural, bird attracting, green and safe piece of property. But an infestation I do take care of, organically. This includes birds eating a lot of the insects to feed their hungry babies.
Sometimes my cucumber or squash leaves will get powdery mildew around this time. I will cut off the offending leaves, if there are only a few of them, and throw them in a plastic bag.
Or, if there is a lot of the powdery mildew, I’ve found that sprinkling powdered milk on the leaves seems to get rid of it.
This is why monitoring is essential for your August garden, so any over-population of insects or diseases doesn’t get out of hand.
It’s easier to nip it in the bud then try to stop it after it’s blown up.
Remember, if you see lacewings, ladybugs, praying mantises, spiders, and dragonflies in your garden, this is a good thing. They are your natural pest control.
3. Keep it weeded!
Weeding is most of our nemesis, I know.
Every single year my husband and I make a pact to keep up with the weeding.
We do pretty well until about the end of July or August. Face-plant.
Then when we look out and see a ton of weeds growing like a dang forest in our vegetable garden.
And when the garden is full of weeds, it’s easy to think, “Oh, forget it, the season will be done soon anyway!” Don’t believe this lie we tell ourselves!
Weeding your August garden is important for a couple of different reasons.
One, letting your weeds go to seed will only cause you to have a ton more weeds the following year. Unfortunately, I tell you this with a lot of experience!
Second, it could lure different insects into your garden that may find your vegetables or fruit more appealing than that weed.
Third, it may be hard to harvest your bounty if you’re tripping over or getting scratched up by weed. Yep more experience!
The only thing I loved about leaving our forest of weeds was a bunch of birds like Indigo Buntings and Redpolls that loved it in the winter. That was super fun. But still a total mess for next year.
Oh yeah, it’s also not fun to clean up in the spring!
4. Plant your cool weather crops for fall harvest
I think planting for a fall harvest is kind of excited. Just when you think it’s all over, you have more delicious things maturing.
I love watching things grow and love harvesting my own fruit and vegetables, so cool weather crops are super fun for me.
Some great cool weather crops you can plant are spinach, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, cabbage, beets, peas, and carrots.
Many of these vegetables will withstand a frost as well, so that’s a plus.
I remember one year we had early snow, and there that kale was, standing tall and green even with the snow on it. It was still good, and we ended up feeding most of it to the rescue bunny we had at the time.
Kohlrabi, turnips, and leeks can also be planted now. You may also want to try cauliflower, arugula, or parsnips.
Some cool-season cruciferous vegetables will actually be sweetened by a frost. This happens through the breakdown of starches within a plant during the frost.
Sugar kind of acts like an antifreeze since it has a lower freezing point than water, so it protects the plant. And makes it naturally sweeter for us!
Just check first which ones will benefit from a frost in your so you don’t lose a vegetable harvest.
The more I learned about cool-season planting, the more I realized how busy my August garden could be! The extra fall bounty makes me happy. 🙂
5. Water when dry
I know watering when dry might seem obvious, but it’s just another chore that can be brushed off like weeding.
An August garden can be very dry, especially after a hot, humid Midwest summer.
A couple of things can happen if you don’t keep the garden watered.
First, vegetables like radishes, jalapeños, and other chili peppers will get way too spicy-hot. Other vegetables can get woody or bitter without enough water. And others will cease to grow at all.
Another thing that can happen is cracked tomatoes.
A tomato plant can grow pretty well in dry conditions. The problem with this is that the fruit grows accordingly. Meaning if you all of a sudden get a great summer rain or start watering after a long dry spell, the tomatoes will “fill” with the extra water, and they will crack.
Some of these tomatoes can be salvaged, but many will just be an entry point for a hungry insect.
Keeping your August garden watered will help keep that to a limit.
I tend to put a mister on my hose, stand there, water my plants, and break it up for a couple of evenings in a row.
This allows me to really look at my garden and watch for anything that may need my attention.
Plus, it’s relaxing and a great way to enjoy being outside.
There really is a lot of maintenance that an August garden still needs, yet it’s nothing hard to do. A little bit almost every day will make it easier too, and your consistency will pay off.
Do you plant cool weather crops? Which are your favorites? Please share it with me below. Thank you! 🙂