Our warmest month in southern Michigan is usually August. The heat—though we seem to be short on that this year—combined with the shortening daylight hours pushes plants to maturity. Vegetables are coming on strong for the harvest, perennials are setting seed, trees and shrubs are hardening up for the winter to come. It’s that time of year, as busy as the spring, when your gardening to-do list starts to grow as fast as the zucchini!
So…here is a list to help you keep on track of what to do in August.
- Keep deadheading so plants continue to look their best.
- Be sure to keep up on watering, especially container grown plants.
- Fertilize once a week with a 1/4 strength solution.
- Certain cultivars of annuals decline after July. Consider replacing them.
- Regular maintenance will keep your perennials looking their best. Keep up on deadheading and removal of dying plant material.
- If perennials are overgrown, you can start digging and dividing them this month and into October. Keep an eye on watering new divisions—late summer/early autumn tends to be dry.
Vegetable & Herb Gardens:
- Keep watering and weeding.
- Check plants regularly for signs of pest or diseases. Remove infected plant materials. DO NOT compost blighted tomato leaves.
- Deadhead flowering herbs—like basil—to keep them productive.
- Harvest regularly to keep plants actively producing. By mid-August, remove any new tomato flowers. There’s not enough time for them to set proper fruit and removal will allow better growth for the fruit remaining.
- Feed your vegetable plants now, and only once, with a foliar feed (preferably organic). It will boost the harvest into fall.
- Plant fall crops such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale. If you didn’t start your transplants last month, purchase them. Direct seeding will take too long for you to reap a harvest.
- Direct sow quick growing fall crops such as spinach, kale, turnips, small carrots, and radishes.
- Plant garlic for harvesting next summer.
Trees and Shrubs:
- Trees and shrubs will need an inch of water per week to stay healthy, either from rain or the hose. Do not fertilize after mid-August; any new growth may be too tender to survive a harsh winter.
- Any summer blooming shrubs that are done flowering can be pruned.
Next week I would like to post your favorite, down home, family style harvest recipes. If you would like to contribute, message me on Facebook.