In August we pass from mid summer into late summer, and some plants never want the season to end, such as the macadamia below.
Other plants start to look tired in August. Look at this weary butternut squash vine that I planted back in March:
It has fruited and is now ready for retirement.
Within the vegetable garden, August is a transition month. As we harvest warm-season crops, we must start sowing and planting cool-season crops. This way, for example, when your tomatoes stop producing well — around Thanksgiving time — you have potatoes to start harvesting.
Let’s get more specific.
Sow and plant
– Sow seeds of: (warm-season) basil, beans; (cool-season) broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, potatoes
*Note on sowing: it’s tough to keep the seeds of broccoli, etc. cool and moist enough in August if you sow them in the ground; I have better success sowing them in module trays that I keep in the relative cool and shade of my garage until the seeds have germinated (see photo below, and see details in my post “Starting brassicas in summer”); but hey, don’t sweat it if you don’t feel like growing these plants from seed — just wait to buy seedlings at a nursery in September
– Plant seedlings of: basil and beans
– Plant subtropical fruit trees like citrus and avocado, as well as vines like passion fruit; they love settling into the warm soil of mid summer; just be sure to water broadly and deeply at planting time, and then water frequently for the rest of the summer; see my post about how to water a newly planted avocado tree; this schedule for avocados can be used for citrus, macadamias, mangos, passion fruit and other subtropicals too
Harvest and eat
– Eat these vegetables (had you planted them): tomatoes, tomatillos, potatoes, corn, greens, onion, beets, carrots, peppers, eggplant, squash, basil, cucumber, melons, beans
– Eat these berries and fruits (had you planted them): grapes, avocados (Lamb, Reed), Valencia oranges, peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, dragon fruit
– Here in August is the last great time this year to give a deciduous fruit tree a trim, particularly on the top, if you want it to continue making its fruit on branches low enough for you to reach in the coming years; reducing the top growth lets more light onto lower branches, which induces them to form flower buds that will open next spring; the types of trees that I give summer trims to in my yard include peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, and pluots; see more in my post “Summer pruning deciduous fruit trees”
– Consider increasing the frequency of watering; in every year in every garden I’ve had in Southern California, irrigation is needed more often in August than other months; for example, my vegetables now need watering every other day whereas in July they did fine getting water every three days
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