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ugust is a magical month of ripening tomatoes, unfurling dahlia blossoms, nectar-seeking hummingbirds, and darting dragonflies. The Perseid meteor showers reach their peak this month, just as the muggiest of dog days recede. Some celebrate August’s arrival with Lughnasadh, a Gaelic seasonal festival marking the midway point between the summer solstice and the fall equinox. Of course, there’s much to celebrate: our springtime labor in the garden now yields steady summer harvests of Lettuce, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Corn, Herbs, and more. And with each harvest comes a new opportunity to sow! Indeed, August is full of potential, abundance, and delight.

To help you make the most of this month, read on for some tips on crops to sow now and a few essential tasks to keep the garden at its best.

Sow What Now?

August is a great time to sow root crops for fall feasts and winter storage, such as Carrots, Beets, Radishes, and Turnips. It’s also a perfect time to return to the diversity of spring greens that prefer cooler weather, such as Arugula, Lettuce, Mustards, and Asian Greens. Many greens can be sown successively throughout the month, and a new sowing of Chard and Kale will keep them in your harvest basket through the fall. Now is also the time to sow fall Peas. Peas can have a hard time in heat, so an autumn crop can be tricky to start, but a deliciously worthy risk to take. For a visual reminder of sowing opportunities this time of year, take a look at the new Late Season Planting Guide.


Cover Crops are also important to add to your sowing calendar this month. As harvests make space in the garden, sow cover crops to protect bare ground and restore nutrient balance in the soil. For an overview of growing Cover Crops, consult this post.

Garlic can be sown from late August to October. If you’ve harvested your own recently, you can save a few of the best heads to replant for next year’s crop. Or start with fresh seed; shop certified organic garlic and shallot varieties here.

Save Seeds

Saving seeds is fun and empowering–and August marks the peak of seed-saving season. Many seed crops will be ripening at once now, so if you plan on saving your own seeds this year, now is the time to set up a cleaning and drying area and brush up on your seed-collecting knowledge. New to seed saving? Our list of 10 Seeds to Save This Season will help you get started.

Weeding

Cultivated crops aren’t the only ones setting seed now. Many weeds are getting ready to sow a new generation of weeds for next year. If you cannot tackle all the weeds in your garden right away (who can?), prioritize the ones that are blooming or forming seed-heads. If you do make time for regular weed maintenance, clean up beds with freshly sown seeds or new transplants first. New plantings are much more affected by weeds stealing moisture and nutrients from them than older, established crops.

Watering

August can be a dry month, which is great for saving seed, but tough on crops that are for eating. Young transplants and new sowings require consistent moisture attention to develop into strong plants, while older plants are more drought tolerant. For an overview of watering, read this post.

Pests and Disease

One of the best ways to deal with insect that overeat your crops is to grow a variety of flowers in the garden. Growing lots of flowers, particularly native varieties (think Rudbeckia or Milkweed, depending on your region), will help strike the right balance between beneficial insects and those that nibble too much. To learn more about planning habitats for beneficial insects, consult this guide from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Because diseases are common among older plants, you'll want to inspect your crops regularly this month. Take a look at our Disease Diagnostic article for tips on how to proceed.

Preserving

This is an ideal month for food preservation. Harvests are bountiful now and with the end of the season not unthinkably far ahead, it’s a good time to start planning your winter diet. Take a look at our article – Preserving the Summer Harvest for Winter – to arm yourself with a few ideas on how to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables into fall and winter.

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