What To Do In the August Garden

      August is a busy time in the garden.  There’s just so much . . . zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans.  And you need to keep harvesting all of it.  Ideally you harvest every day, but at minimum every other day. There is no point in allowing large, overripe vegetables to tax a plant of resources it could devote to producing young, fresh vegetables.  If you cannot use your excess produce, your local food pantry will welcome it. 

      Of course, no matter how often you check, there’s going to be a watermelon-sized zucchini that wasn’t there at all the day before.  You can shred or chunk those monsters and freeze them for winter breads or soups.  Even adding them to the compost bin has benefit.

      Both the flower and vegetable garden can use freshening up this time of year.  A good thorough weeding will make everything look better and prevent weed seeds from germinating either this year or next. 

      Cut spent blooms from annual flowers to keep them producing all the way until first frost.  Harvest or cut back herbs for drying or fresh use.  The exception is if you plan to save seeds.  In that case, let some of the plants go to seed so you can collect them when the seeds are dry.

      Replacing or adding to worn out or decomposed mulch will add a fresh, neat look to the garden.

      If container plants are past their prime and won’t benefit from cutting back, it’s time to dump them in the compost bin.  Perhaps replace them with fall mums or just enjoy a vacation from monitoring and watering the containers.

      You can still plant things!  Spinach, lettuce, arugula, kohlrabi, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale are possibilities.  The seeds will need some shade after planting as the hot August sun will cook them before they can germinate.  Shade cloth, floating row covers or anything else you can rig up to provide shade will get them off to a good start before cooler weather arrives,

      This is also the time to take a good hard look at what worked and what didn’t this year and make revisions for next year.  Make a list of plants or seeds you want to buy, changes in number of plants from this year – maybe a few less zucchini! – garden projects to design over winter, or plants to move or eliminate.

      We easily become blind to our own landscapes.  Take several photos of your yard and garden from different vantage points and study them to see what other people see when they approach.  Perhaps something will jump out at you that needs trimming, moving or even complete removal.

      Also take photos of your vegetable garden as a reminder of where things were this year so you can rotate plant families next year.  Rotation helps to eliminate insect pests and diseases that overwinter in the soil.

      Finally, take some time to relax and enjoy the garden beauty and bounty that is August.

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