IN AUGUST, the perennial garden winds down…and the veggie garden explodes. It’s time to pickle the cukes, sauce the tomatoes, and freeze the broccoli and beans. Then there are annuals to propagate, bulbs to order, and…anyone else need a Valium? My essential chores for August:
Container Plantings. These will keep their looks until frost if you remove spent flowers regularly. Remember that container plants must be fed and watered daily — twice daily, in fact, during hot, dry spells.
Annuals. Take cuttings from impatiens, petunias, and wax begonias, and root them in pots of good soil. Brought indoors before frost, these colorful annuals will bloom all winter in a sunny window.
Bulbs. It’s the early gardener who gets the best tulips, hyacinths, narcissi and other spring bulbs. Order now to avoid disappointment. I obtain most of my bulbs from this source; for special, heirloom varieties, I shop here.
Compost. Fork over the pile, and soak it well with a slow-running hose. If you wish to contain, not pile, your garden debris, consider these inexpensive composting bins.
Lawns. Let the weather, not the calendar, dictate your mowing routine. Do not mow at all during times of drought.
Perennial Seeds. If you are feeling energetic, sow next year’s crop of delphiniums, asters, hollyhocks and other perennials anytime now. Or, you can wait — as I do — and winter-sow these seeds during the less-harried months of January and February. In any event, consider planting something unusual, like the cocoa-scented Chocolate Flower.
Roses. Continue to deadhead; fertilize one last time for autumn bloom. If blackspot is a problem, you’ll find an organic treatment in you refrigerator. (Above, climbing R. ‘Blaze.’)
Beans, Green. Better harvest and preserve these before they get old and woody. How I freeze green beans for winter use.
Beets. If you hurry, you can get another crop in for autumn harvest. Otherwise, dig up roots and freeze or can them. I freeze mine.
Broccoli. Keep an eye on the green heads, and be sure to cut them before they go to flower. Want to freeze your crop? The directions are here.
Brussels Sprouts. Stake tall plants that have fallen over. Begin to harvest the green, cabbage-like sprouts from the bottom of the stalk. Sprouts higher up will mature later. They become even sweeter after being exposed to frost.
Carrots. Sow now for winter use. Or, keep this last crop in the ground, as I do, and harvest during the first spring thaw.
Kale. Keep picking, and the plant will keep producing leaves until checked by the first hard frost. These are a healthy substitute to potato chips. How I freeze kale (and other leafy greens) for winter use.
Onions. Harvest when green tops fall over. How I harvest, cure and store onions.
Shallots. Harvest when the green tops show brown at the tips. Cure and store just as you would onions.
Peas. Sow your storage-crop early this month.
Potatoes. Although you can harvest these anytime after vines die back, I always leave mine underground until October. Why? Because my cellar isn’t cool enough before then to store the crop. How I harvest and store potatoes.
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