Our August garden chores are definitely going to be on refocusing ourselves and rejuvenating our gardens. As joyous as much of this year has been, we have failed this summer in the garden. It’s tough to admit, but the craziness of life has left our gardens a bit untended and the diseases and pests took advantage.
There is a battle in front of us, and we have our sights set on a fall flourishing with beautiful gardens. The cucumber beetles are back in full force, and our undernourished clay soils have started to show with the health of our plants. Let’s just say we can’t make compost fast enough these days nor could we spray neem oil often enough.
There is going to be a flurry of activity on this homestead over the next few weeks both inside and out. If our mosquitos were not out of control some days, our days would definitely be much longer. These August garden chores are going to make or break our fall gardens.
Rejuvenate the garden
Knock out the weeds.
If you have been lax like us, the weeds have begun to take over. Give all of the gardens a good cleanout. Compost those weeds that have not yet gone to seed. Throw away any that have gone to seed. I usually give the gardens a good quick edging with the string trimmer as well.
Gearing up your compost may be the most important of the August garden chores. I try to always turn all of my compost and keep it well watered all of August. It is typically hot and dry, so a little extra care keeps things breaking down fast. Plus, all of our composting leaves need to be finishing up soon because the fall leaf drop is right around the corner. Keep that compost pile healthy.
The summer has been tough on our gardens. They have seen long dry stretches and long wet stretches. The rain never comes down slow and soft. Soils have taken a physical beating and the plants have begun to strip the available nutrients. Spreading a nice layer of compost over the garden can give it a nice boost going into the fall. Feed the soil to feed your plants.
Fight the late summer pests and disease.
Summer laziness in the garden usually shows up with some pests and/or diseases by August. Remove and throw away any plants that are past saving. Clean up any debris around the plants that may harbor disease or shelter for pests. Then, treat the garden with the necessary organic insecticide or fungicide. Neem oil is what we use the most of this time of the year. A good dose of beneficial nematodes can also help significantly. This August garden chore can pay dividends all through the fall.
Plan and plant the fall garden
It’s not too late to plant seeds for the fall garden. Chard, radishes, carrots, kale, spinach, turnips, beets, lettuce, dill, and basil are just some of the great crops to start this time of the year.
Plant early fall seedlings.
Some of the early fall seedlings can be set out later this month. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and collards can start being planted in the garden. It’s best to do this when the temperatures start to dip again.
Get your soil ready for the fall
Prep beds for the fall.
It’s not too early to start a new garden or get a vacant bed prepared for winter. I spend a little time hoeing or pulling all the weeds and removing any dead or dying plants from the spring and summer. Then, I like to spread a layer of finished compost across the bed. If the soil was tilled in the spring, I lightly loosen up the soil with a digging fork. If it is a new bed or an old bed that has become compacted, I will break out the broadfork to loosen the soil deeply. Rake it smooth and it’s ready for the fall.
Consider a soil test.
If it was a rough year for your garden and nothing seemed to be happy, get a soil test to find out where your soil stands. This allows you to provide proper amount of soil amendments to get the best soil for your garden. Most state extension agencies provide soil test services. You can order a University of Geogia soil test here.
Fill empty areas with cover crops.
In areas where you may have summer crops finishing with no intention of planting fall vegetables, don’t leave the space empty. Plant a cover crop that will help protect and ultimately enrich the soil. It’s a great way to build a productive soil.
Reap the last rewards of summer
Harvest any garlic still left.
If there are any garlic stragglers left, harvest what is left. Different types and varieties ripen at different times. When your garlic is ready, loosen the soil around the garlic delicately with a spading fork and gently lift the garlic from the bulbs rather than pulling them from the stem. Save the best for replanting in the fall.
Enjoy the wealth of the summer harvest.
There are not too many weeks left in the summer growing season. Enjoy the fresh harvest, and preserve all of the extra bounty of the summer. Many fruits and vegetables will slow down if they are not picked regularly. Keep up as best as you can. This may be the most enjoyable of the August garden chores.
Remove lettuce, spinach, dill, and other greens that have bolted to clear space for fall plantings. Saving the seed from these plants is a great way to adapt your plants to the local area. And don’t forget how tasty some flower buds can be.