FOR ME, and probably for you, too, August is a frantic month. There are cucumbers to pickle, tomatoes to sauce, and beans to freeze. Then there are annuals to propagate for winter bloom, and bulbs to order for springtime glory, and a window garden to design, and…well, kindly pour yourself a stiff drink before proceeding to the following list of chores:
Container Plantings. These will keep their looks until frost if you continue to feed and water them daily. I feed my Torennia (above) and other flowering container plants with a high-phosphorous, low-nitrogen formula (Jack’s Classic 10-30-20).
Note: Reader Becky, who lives in hot-hot Texas, recently asked if her basket plants should be fed during periods of high heat, when growth is slow. The answer is yes. Roots of potted plants can’t forage for food as they would in the open garden. Consequently we need to reward them with a little food every time we water.
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 your sunny window garden. My super-simple propagation procedure.
Make a Window Garden! For the decorative display and easy maintenance of houseplants, you can’t beat a window garden. It took me less than 30 minutes to outfit the ordinary window in my upstairs bath (pictured above) for the content containment of my flowering wintertime friends. Story and pictures.
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 online source. The ancient ‘Van der Neer’ tulips that bloom each April my Serpentine Garden (pictured above) were obtained from this old-world bulb specialist.
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-busy months of January and February.
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.
Beans, Green. Better harvest and preserve these before they get old and woody. I freeze mine this way.
Beets. If you hurry, you can get another crop in for autumn harvest. Otherwise, dig up roots and freeze or can them. My beet-freezing technique.
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 before they fall over. Begin to harvest the green, cabbage-like sprouts from the bottom of the stalk. Sprouts higher up will mature later. They will become even sweeter after being exposed to frost.
Kale. Keep picking, and the plant will keep producing leaves until checked by hard frost. How I freeze kale (and other leafy greens) for winter use.
Onions. Harvest when green tops fall over. Be sure to cure the onions before you store them. 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 wait until October. Why? Because my cellar isn’t cool enough to store the crop before then. Here’s my potato harvesting- and-storing guide.
Tomatoes. I hope you’ll turn your first ripe fruits into this crowd-pleasing Classic Tomato Pie.
Are my monthly lists of home and garden chores of any use to you? You can let me know by leaving a comment. Your thoughts mean the world to me.
Don’t miss anything at A Garden for the House…sign up for Kevin’s weekly newsletter.