One summer 6 years ago in the hot weather, I thought the watering system was working, but it was completely dead in my summer garden. I had no idea because it had been so hot, I just sort of gave up going out to my garden. I regrated not finding a time in the early morning or later in the evening to explore my garden for just a few minutes a day.
If I had, I would have seen my tomatoes struggling and wilting because they had no water for weeks in the summer heat. The plants were greatly damaged, and I stopped getting tomatoes. It was sad, but I learned my lesson and created a system to do things just 10 minutes a day to keep my garden healthy and not to overwhelm my heart.
Stop the problems early and then it won’t stop your vegetable garden from continuing to produce. Early prevention is the key, especially in the summertime heat when bugs, watering, and heat can cause a lot of issues. Be ahead of the issues so that they won’t take over your garden like they did mine that one summer day. Read about how to get the most out of August with 5 helpful tips for a thriving garden.
August Gardening To-Do List
If you don’t have time to waste, then check out this list of 5 things that you can do in 10-minute increments each week to make gardening in August productive and easy.
ONE: Water Strategically
The most crucial task in any garden is watering. In August, it’s important to water your plants early in the morning, before the heat of the day, to minimize evaporation. To save time, consider investing in a drip irrigation system or soaker hoses that can be set on a timer.
Here’s why consistent watering is so important:
Transports Nutrients: Water carries nutrients from the soil to the plant cells, making plants that are kept at their ideal hydration levels stronger and healthier. This nutrient transport is vital for the plant’s growth and survival.
Consistent Soil Moisture: Keeping the right amount of moisture is key for summer gardening. Over watering stops the plant from growing and underwatering does the same thing. Use your finger to test the soil 2-3 inches down to check for moisture. The top 1-2 inches does not give you a good indication of watering needs. Go deeper into the ground to really know how the water is affecting your plants.
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to watering as it depends on several factors like climate, plant type, and soil composition. Regular observation and adjustment based on specific plant needs and seasonal changes will ensure your garden remains healthy and productive. Every week, make a plan that you will check the soil moisture and watering system (if you have one) on a regular basis to keep your garden growing through the late summer heat.
TWO: Prune Your Plants & Berries
Pruning is a vital part of maintaining a healthy and productive garden. It’s a process that involves selectively removing certain parts of a plant such as branches, buds weed seeds, or roots that are not contributing to the plant’s growth or might even be hindering it.
Let’s take tomatoes as an example. These plants can greatly benefit from regular pruning. By removing lower leaves and non-productive branches, you can direct more of the plant’s energy into growing larger, healthier fruits.
Pruning also improves air circulation around your tomato plants, which is crucial for their health. Good air circulation can help to reduce the risk of fungal diseases like blight or powdery mildew, which thrive in damp, stagnant conditions.
You don’t need to prune your plants every day. Instead, establish a regular routine of checking your plants. Look for any signs of disease, pests, or overcrowded growth. When you notice these issues, that’s when you should reach for your pruning shears.
When you’re pruning, focus on removing the lower leaves that touch the ground, as these are most likely to pick up diseases. Also, remove any yellowing or diseased-looking leaves.
Remember, pruning should be done with clean, sharp tools to make precise cuts and minimize damage to the plant. After pruning, it’s good practice to clean your tools again to avoid spreading diseases between plants.
THREE: Inspecting Plants
Inspecting Plants for Insect Pests: Take a few minutes each week to inspect your plants for signs of pests or disease. Look for holes in leaves, discoloration, or wilting. Catching problems early can save a lot of time and effort later on.
Pests to look out for in August:
Aphids: These sap-feeding insects infest shoot tips, flower buds, and the underside of younger leaves. Aphids are some of the most common insects that you will find in your garden. Wash them off with water or cut off infected branches and throw away.
Beetles: Beetles come in many varieties and can cause a host of problems, from eating leaves and fruits to damaging plant roots. There are many ways to treat beetles. Choose the organic, natural solutions to protet your garden.
Loopers: These are small caterpillars that can harm your vegetable garden, particularly cruciferous plants like cabbage and broccoli, but they can also affect others like tomatoes and cucumbers. They chew holes in leaves and bore through vegetables, contaminating them with their bodies and droppings. Pluck them off by hand and look for their eggs to smoosh under leaves.
Diseases to look out for in August:
Sooty Mold: This is a type of fungal disease that appears as a black coating on the leaves, stems, and fruit of plants.
Powdery Mildew: This is a common disease caused by a fungus that appears as a white or gray powdery substance on the leaves and stems of plants. It can spread quickly to other plants. Take the infected leaves off to ensure proper growth of your plants. This type of mildew grows in summer with the heat.
Root Rot: This disease affects plants, causing their roots to decay because they have been overwatered or poor soil drainage. If you see the plant starting to yellow and wilt than you might say affected plants have root rot. If the roots are mushy than take out the sick plant and add new organic soil and plant again or something else if you know the soil is healthy.
Early detection is key in managing both pests and diseases. Regular inspection of your plants can help catch problems before they become too severe.
FOUR: Getting Ready for Fall Garden in August
To maintain a productive and healthy garden, it’s a great idea to replace harvested crops with fast-growing fall crops like radishes or leaf lettuce in late summer as a head start.
Remove plants that are no longer productive or reaching the end of their harvest, and plant fall seeds and new growth in their place. The combination of watering, heat, and moisture will promote seed germination where direct sunlight is not needed, and with the onset of cooler temperatures, the new plants will thrive in shaded conditions.
Here are some of the best vegetables and seeds you can plant to keep food growing in your garden even past the summer harvest for a delicious fall harvest:
Carrots: Directly plant these seeds in your garden for a healthy fall crop & winter harvest.
Salad Greens: These plants grow quickly and can provide fresh greens throughout the fall season.
Beets: Another fast-growing vegetable, beets can be harvested in the fall or spring if planted late summer.
Radishes: One of the fastest growing vegetables, radishes can be ready to harvest in just 20 to 30 days.
Peas and Spinach: These can be planted directly into the cold or warm soil temperatures of early fall.
Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Onion, Pumpkin: These fall vegetables are perfect for a home garden and can be harvested throughout the fall and early winter.
Remember, the key to a successful fall garden is timing. Start planting these seeds in August to ensure they have enough time to build their root system before the first frost and then you will get fall crops to enjoy.
FIVE: Harvest Time in August
I know it’s hot out there in the dry weather, but don’t give up harvesting. Find a perfect time for a 10-minute slot in the early morning or later in the evening to harvest herbs and veggies by escaping the hottest part of the day and remember to pick what you have worked so hard to grow. To not get overwhelmed in this busy month, add these suggestions to help make your 10-minute time productive and easy:
Plan Your Route: Before you start, take a moment to plan your route through the garden. Start with the vegetables that are quickest and easiest to pick, like beans and peas, then move on to those that require a bit more time, like tomatoes and cucumbers.
Bring the Right Tools: A basket or bucket for your produce and a pair of sharp scissors or pruners will make your harvesting time more efficient.
Know What’s Ready: Familiarize yourself with what each ripe vegetable looks like. Tomatoes should be fully colored, beans should be firm and snap easily, zucchini and cucumbers should be medium-sized, and leafy greens should be vibrant in color. Harvest overgrown perennials like oregano and sage.Check out this blog post on how to grow cucumbers in the summer and know when to pick for harvest.
Start Picking: Start with one type of vegetable at a time. Pick all the ripe ones before moving on to the next type. This will save you from having to walk back and forth between different plants.
Be Gentle: To avoid damaging the plant or fruit, cut the fruit off the plant rather than pulling or twisting it off.
Check All Angles: Make sure to check all sides of the plant – sometimes ripe vegetables are hidden behind leaves or under the plant.
Save the Seeds
Seed saving is an excellent way to keep your garden growing year after year, and it can also be a fun and rewarding process. Some plants are easier to seed saving, making the process even more simple. Here’s why beans, okra, and tomatoes are among the easiest plants for seed saving:
Beans are self-pollinating, which means they don’t rely on insects or wind to transfer pollen. This makes it easier to save pure seeds without worrying about cross-pollination with other varieties. Furthermore, bean seeds are large and easy to handle. Once the pods are fully mature and have dried out on the plant, you can simply remove the seeds and store them for next year.
Okra flowers are self-pollinating before they even open, which helps ensure that the seeds will be true to type. To save okra seeds, allow the pods to dry out on the plant. Once they’re dry, you can easily remove the seeds.
Tomatoes are among the easiest plants to save seeds from. They are mostly self-pollinating, and their seeds are enclosed in a gel-like sac that helps prevent cross-pollination. To save tomato seeds, you’ll need to remove the seeds from the fruit, rinse them, and let them dry. Some gardeners recommend fermenting tomato seeds to remove the gel sac and kill any potential diseases.
Remember, when saving seeds, always choose the healthiest and most vigorous plants. This will help ensure that the next generation of plants is strong and productive as you produce thousands of seeds.
Getting the Most of Summer August Garden
Even in the hot days, there is so much that you can do to continue the production before the cold winter comes and start getting ready to plant cool weather crops in your mid August Garden. Your garden in August does not have to end when your summer harvest stops. And if you need any tools to help make gardening easier, check out this blog post.
Add all of your garden leaves, that aren’t diseased foliage to a compost pile now to clear up your garden beds. As the cold weather arrives, you can add a cold frame to protect your young plants and keep getting fresh vegetables throughout the growing season.
Use this to do list of 5 things to do in your garden in August to help you continue gardening in just 10 minutes a day. Check out this mini-course to know what to do in just 10 minutes a day through each season. Let me know which of these 5 tips helped you the most in the comments!