For many gardeners the month of August begins the downhill slide into off season. Warm climate gardeners have a second chance, but some don't have a second wind after summer's heat. By all means, take some time to simply enjoy your garden and all the hard work you've put into it. But August weather is often milder than we expect and it's a great time to perk things up in the garden, after July's heat.
Your garden is hardier than you think and there are plenty of gardening tasks for August that will keep your flower and vegetable gardens going longer, as well as opportunities to get a head start on next year's garden plans.
Here's a Garden-To-Do List for the sultry month of August:
- Seed a fall crop of peas and spinach and keep harvesting. There's always something to make with zucchini.
- Pick herbs for fresh use and for drying. Harvesting will encourage them to send out fresh, new growth and keep them growing longer.
- Order spring bulbs for planting and forcing.
- Check that your mulch hasn't decomposed and add more as needed.
- Spread a mid-season layer of compost or manure.
- Keep deadheading and harvesting.
- Leave some annual seeds to self-sow.
- Start saving seeds and taking cuttings.
- Remove any diseased foliage now, so it doesn't get lost in the fall leaves.
- Cut back the foliage of early bloomers like Brunnera and hardy geraniums, to revitalize the plants.
- Prune summer flowering shrubs as the flowers fade.
- Trim and feed handing baskets to prolong their beauty.
- Take pictures of your garden at peak. Take pictures of container combinations you'd like to repeat.
- Make sure the cold frame is ready to go.
- Begin dividing perennials. Start with the bearded iris.
- Pot up perennial divisions for spring plant swaps. Sink the pots into the ground this fall and they'll be one less chore in the spring. (An empty spot in the vegetable garden is perfect for this. By the time you're ready to plant vegetables next spring, it will be time to lift the pots.)
- Plant trees, shrubs and perennials now, so they can take root, and keep them well watered.
- Get your fall-blooming crocus and colchicum planted so they'll bloom on time.
More for Zones 1 - 3:
- Start moving houseplants back indoors, so they get used to the limited sun exposure and humidity. Maybe bring some outdoor plants inside, to over winter, too.
More for Zone 8 and Above
Lucky you, your 2nd gardening season is just beginning. Take some time to clean things up, getting rid of tired foliage and diseased leaves, then dig in and get planting.
- Begin planting for the fall/winter vegetable garden.
- Plant a spring crop of garlic.
- Get the rose garden in shape for fall planting.
- Order spring flowering bulbs for pre-chilling.
- Feed citrus trees after harvest.
Then sit back and enjoy all you've accomplished!