August Hot Gardening Tips

August is quite an important month for your garden! You’ll see parts of it in full swing and thriving, and you’ve probably handed out zucchini, squash, and tomatoes to every neighbor within a five-mile radius already. Now isn’t the time to be complacent, though, as there’s still plenty to do if you want to enjoy the rest of the season (and be better prepared for the next one)!  The following August Gardening Tips will get you through the muggy heat.

There’s rarely a “hands-off” period in a garden, but we have some tips if you’re wondering how your time is best spent in the August heat.

Keep Up With Watering

Do the heat waves leave you feeling thirsty? You’re not alone. Your garden needs plenty of water during August because there’s nothing quite as disappointing as watching your hard work literally dry up. Regardless of which zone you’re in, August likely isn’t the time to slack off with giving your garden a drink. If you happen to be in beautiful Tennessee, like Stoney Creek Farm, good watering practices are a must!

  • Use mulch and organic soil for better water-holding
  • Think about when you water so you lose less to quick evaporation
  • Collect and use rainwater if possible
  • Avoid overwatering (yes, it’s still possible)

It’s Mulchin’ Time for August Gardening

After weathering spring rain and summer storms, your mulch may be looking a little worn down. Take a stroll and check out its condition. If it’s starting to break down or seems more sparse than you remember, it’s time for a fresh layer.

Many plants in your garden are actively growing, but they’re not alone. Weeds are in high gear, and mulch is one of your best natural weapons against them. Properly applied mulch also makes watering more effective, so it comes with some important benefits.

Handle Pests

The type of pest you see varies depending on the region. If you’re in the Southwest United States, you may be dealing with high numbers of grasshoppers, while other places deal with critters like rabbits and even deer munching on their crops. Insects like aphids, scales, spider mites, and thrips are inescapable regardless of your location, though.

The best way to handle pests is by preventing them from setting up camp in the first place. Organic, natural pesticides like neem oil work well for many of the common insects, as do organic soaps meant to ward off unwanted six-legged visitors. If you’re struggling with rabbits, groundhogs, deer, or other mammals, start planning for next year’s garden by including plants that repel or ward them off.

  • Lavender – Many animals, including rabbits and deer, dislike the scent of lavender. It also acts as pest control against insects like mosquitoes and flies. Luckily, it’s also beautiful, and it tends to smell wonderful to humans!
  • Mint – Like lavender, mint has a strong smell that many animals find unappealing. Planting fresh mint also means you’ll have it available, as it’s delicious in many dishes and drinks.
  • Rosemary – Have you noticed a theme? Fragrant plants that people tend to love aren’t nearly as well-received by the animal kingdom. Planting rosemary keeps all sorts of pests away – insects and mammals alike.

Prune, Divide, and Conquer

Careful pruning in summer encourages continued lush growth, especially for spring plants. If you’re pruning shrubs and live in a region that sees temperatures drop early (like northeastern states), make sure you finish up before the middle of August. Waiting until later may cause damage if they can’t harden before winter.

Similarly, it’s time to start dividing your perennials. Dividing in August gives them plenty of time to acclimate before the winter months. If you have perennials that are overgrown or just slowing down, they’re excellent candidates for division.

Plant Fall Crops for Your August Garden

The heat is still blazing, but summer is technically winding down and fall is just around the corner. That means it’s time to get some cold-weather crops into the ground. Just make sure you’re not putting the same plants in the same spot year after year. It strips the soil of valuable nutrients and leaves crops vulnerable to pests and disease.

Luckily, there are plenty of options to choose from (especially if you love leafy greens), so you shouldn’t need to worry about repeats! Take your pick of these, and they’ll be ready to enjoy before you know it.

  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Chard
  • Cauliflower
  • And more!

Seed Saving

You may notice several plants have gone to seed already, so it’s time to decide how much spread you’re hoping for. Some flowers, like cosmos, are excellent at spreading around on their own. Leave the seeds alone and you’ll see more of them next year. If you successfully raised any rare or special varieties, collect the seeds yourself and save them for later use.

In other words, don’t waste seeds by pruning them away! Let your flowers do their thing or help them along.

Fit in Fertilizer

Summer is wrapping up by the end of August, even if it technically runs through most of September. You have time for one more round of fertilizer (if needed) before the end of the month. It may give shrubs and other plants one last boost before the growing season slows down and ends. Besides, you’ve had several months to get some excellent compost going or perfect your natural fertilizer formula. Put it to use before it’s too late to see the benefits.

Final Thoughts

While it’s tempting to sit back with a cold glass of lemonade, there’s still a bit of gardening work to do in August. You’ll pat yourself on the back for it later when you bring in your fall harvest and watch everything burst into life again next spring.

August is a month of abundance, too, and we know from experience that the bounty is sometimes a little too bountiful. That’s where food preservation comes in. Don’t let all your beautiful veggies and fruits go to waste. Instead, join Stoney Creek Farm for our Canning 101: Preserve Your Healthy Food course on August 5 and keep the delicious food going.