August 1 to August 30
Discover what you should be doing right now. Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.
Here's what's happening in your gardening region:
This is the ‘off season’ in our area, so take a breather and read up on all the things you’ll be planting in the next month. Consider this your summer vacation. Growers in zone 9 can actually get started on planting seeds of warm-season vegetables, but there’s also no harm in waiting until September. Since you’re probably clinging to the air-conditioning and gardening at the crack of dawn, this month’s to-do list is a bit of a freebie. Order a seed catalog and salivate over its contents. Check out a massive library of articles and videos to get informed and inspired for next season’s garden. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, plant some easy and fast-growing seeds or better yet, plant seeds of your favorite warm-season veggies.
Summer Reading List
Since it’s too hot out for much gardening, get some reading done and learn how to make this year better than ever. Whether you’re a first-time gardener, are new to edibles or just need a refresher, there’s no shame in asking for a little help. Luckily, the Burpee website has it in spades. Every month I share seasonally relevant links to articles and videos that gardeners in our region would find useful, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The ‘how-to articles’ show you how to grow just about any vegetable, as well as herbs and fruits. The ‘gardening tips and advice’ page has just that, as well as recipes, ideas and inspiration. If you’re more of a visual learner, check out the ‘gardening how-to videos’ link to actually see how it’s done.
Plant Warm Season Vegetables
Despite the heat advisories, shorter days and cooler temperatures are on the way. That means it’s finally time to plant seeds of warm-season crops like tomatoes, squashes and beans again. Gardeners in zone 10 may choose to wait until September. Regardless, all gardeners in zones 9-10 will only have about a month or two to plant warm-season crops before it gets too cool, so don’t miss your window of opportunity!
Order Cool Season Vegetables
Ever notice how all of the good stuff only grows in the cooler months? Believe it or not, it’s already time to order cool-season vegetables here; zones 9a and 9b can start planting in September and zone 10 can plant in October. Plan your fall and winter gardens by determining which vegetables and herbs you’d like to eat in the cooler months, as well as which ones will look best in your garden. Order seeds online or partake in the lost art of perusing and daydreaming through the pages of a good old-fashioned seed catalog. There’s nothing like it. Some vegetables, such as onions, garlic, cabbage, potatoes and broccoli will take a long time to mature, so start your plantings right away so that you’ll be able to harvest sooner. For nonstop picking throughout the season, grow leafy greens like kale, collards, lettuce and spinach.
Prevent Pests and Diseases
The best remedy is always prevention. Choose vegetables that are adapted to your state’s unique conditions with tolerance to heat and diseases like nematodes. Provide trellises and supports for vining or weak-stemmed vegetables like squashes, cucumbers and tomatoes to climb. This will keep foliage and fruits off of the ground where bugs and diseases lurk, provide ventilation and bring them up to eye-level so that you can easily spot and treat problems. Weeding is a job that isn’t always fun and never seems to end, but it’s more than just cosmetic. Weeds offer a great hiding place for pests and diseases, and then facilitate their spread by providing easy ladders to your plants. Other than that, weeds unfairly compete for water and nutrients. Another good way to end up with a diseased plant is by growing it in soggy soil, so grow them in well drained areas or make your own by building a raised bed.
Plant Fast Growing Annuals
The garden might be looking pretty ragged in places right now. Perhaps pests and diseases have left you with some empty spots in the vegetable garden, and you’re giving yourself and the soil a break for a while. Maybe your spring-blooming annuals have fizzled out in the heat and intense summer sun. Whatever reason you might have, don’t let those ugly gaps get colonized by weeds while you’re not looking. Plant fast-growing flower seeds for pockets of blooms. They do more than just sit pretty though; a dense bed of annual flowers shades the soil, helping the roots of surrounding plants stay cool and keeping weed seeds from germinating and getting a foothold. Flowers even attract pollinators like honeybees and butterflies, which help increase production in the vegetable garden with every enchanting buzz or flutter. Fast-growing seeds are great for covering ground quickly, and they also protect the vulnerable seedlings of slower-growing annuals and perennials from the elements.