(Last updated August 1, 2020)
At some point in August, I do grow tired of summer. There’s just always a day where I say, OK, enough of the heat, I look forward to the return of crisp nights and rainfall. Some plants start to look tired in August too. Look at this weary Honey Nut butternut squash vine that was planted way back in March:
On the other hand, citrus trees and avocados never want summer to end. They come from places where it never cools down as much as it does here in Southern California. Look how happy the foliage is on that Reed avocado tree at the top of the page. Bananas, cherimoyas, mangos, and macadamia nut trees love August too, as illustrated by these new leaves at the top of my young Linda macadamia:
While August may seem like a month that is thoroughly summer, for vegetable gardeners it is similar to March in that both are months of transition. In March, in Southern California, we move from plants that like to grow in cool weather to plants that like to grow in warm weather. Here in August, we eat from our plants that like to grow in warm weather — like butternut squash — while we begin sowing seeds of plants that like to grow in the cool weather that arrives in fits and spasms starting late in the month of September. These seeds are of plants like broccoli and potatoes.
So enjoy the changing of the seasons, even as it’s mid-summer.
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 (Hass, Lamb, Reed), Valencia oranges, peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots
– 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”
– Ratchet up 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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