August Gardening Essentials

August Gardening Essentials

August in the garden is a month filled with harvesting the tasty fruits (or veggies) of your labors like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. Taking lots of notes on the successes and failures of your 2019 garden to help you plan for next Spring, and finally planting a Fall crop.

Pull out or divide perennial flowers that may be taking over and replant them in bare spots making room for new plantings. You may want to deadhead flowers, encouraging them to rebloom until the first frost. Prepare sunny areas now where you'll be able to plant perennials like fruiting trees, shrubs, and berries for future years of harvest.

To keep your plants nice and cool, add a layer of mulch that will also keep the soil moist and keep the weeds down. Cover your new plantings with a row cover to give them some shade in August and to provide them with protection against the sometimes-icy early mornings of September and October. Cooler weather enables us to garden with fewer weeds, fewer insects while enjoying a more temperate climate.

Veggies to plant for Fall

Lettuce is one veggie that I miss during the hot months of Summer. Putting them in now will allow you to be harvesting for the 2-3 months coming up. Peas and beans are grown with lettuce as a companion plant. If you like to cook or season Mexican dishes, cilantro is easy to grow. These plants can be sown directly into the soil with starts from your nursery or seed that is available everywhere.

Carrots are a favorite crop to plant in August as they are quick growing and should be ready for harvest by the end of October. Spread the seeds thinly in rows, water, mulch, and then come back a week or two later after the seeds sprout to thin them out to 3-4 inches apart.

A fast-growing root vegetable, beets like the cooler weather and the early rains which will begin when late September arrives. At our house, we enjoy beet salad which we make by boiling the beets, refrigerating them, and then cutting them into 1-inch cubes to add to your green salad. They will be ready  for harvest with the most cooling weather at the end of October or early November. Use a layer of mulch to protect the plants from the first frost.

Kale and Swiss Chard can handle temperatures down to the low 20's and usually last through the winter even into next Spring here in northern California. I recommend buying starts of dinosaur kale and rainbow chard and plant them in a sunny location 2 feet apart with good drainage. Both can be steamed, sautéed, or added to smoothies along with carrots and beets.

Broccoli, a rich source of vitamin A, potassium, iron, and fiber is a vegetable in the Brassica family, which also includes kale and cabbage. There are quite a few green varieties and beautiful purple types too. Just a few plants can supply you with enough broccoli to eat weekly for months. If planted now it will grow best in full sun 18 inches apart and be ready to harvest by the end of October into November. Some favorite heirloom varieties are "De Cicco" and Calabrese." Buy a six-pack of starts and plant them in rich garden soil. If you have a mild winter protect them with row cover or a cold frame, they may come back in the Spring and produce a nice crop. Just keep it well watered as the temperatures permit it.

Cabbage likes to grow in areas that have cold temperatures. Here in northern California, it grows best when planted early in the Spring and harvested in July. Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamins C and K and dietary fiber. If you grow organically, you can enjoy this veggie pickled, steamed, sautéed, or made into coleslaw (see below) using either the red or green variety. Cabbage likes full sun and sandy to loamy soil like mushroom compost or potting mix. They are heavy feeders so if you dig a trench 8-10 inches deep and wide and fill it with fresh garden compost and organic bagged soil, and they should flourish. Keep the soil evenly moist using Drip tape, ¼" Soaker Dripline, or ½"Emitter Tubing and plant the seeds or seedlings 18" -24"apart. As it often rains in the fall, keep the plants mulched to keep down the weeds.

Yesterday I cut ahead of green cabbage, purple cabbage, and added some carrots and a big red onion harvested in June to make to following delicious vegan coleslaw.

 

  • One head of green or red cabbage
  • Two large sweet carrots
  • One red onion
  • One tbsp. chopped parsley
  • Sweet mustard dressing (2 tbsp. lemon juice, 3 tbsp. Mendocino Mustard, 2 tbsp. white or red balsamic vinegar, 6 tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste)

Shred the cabbage or cut into thinly cut slices to 2 inches long .Grate carrots, cut up the red onion and add to cabbage and parsley in a  bowl, mix well. Shake dressing well in a jar and pour over cabbage and veggies and toss

You'll enjoy this easy coleslaw!

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