With the dog days of summer quickly approaching August is a month to sit back and relax… right? In some ways YES! Since my 2021 goal was to spend more time enjoying the day-to-day and not anticipating all that still must be done, I am making sure that I take a few moments each day to observe the seasonal changes and bask in the beauty of the garden. But when those moments fade it is time to get back into motion.
My August ideas include some recipes for enjoying and preserving your harvests as well as my garden task list.
Kubby likes to follow me around when I take a break to tour and enjoy the garden! Check out the zucchini and peanuts in this foodscape bed on the left that are finally filling out.
So, what does my August garden to-do list look like? First on the list is to order more Soil³ compost! I used the last of my summer bags and I know by September I will need more as I begin preparing for the cool season.
Sow Seeds for Fall Harvest
It can really seem counterintuitive to start sowing cool season veggies when temperatures are soaring, but NOW is the time to get your first round of heading vegetables sown if you want to have harvests in October. Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower are at the top of my list to get started ASAP.
My approach is to sow small amounts (10-15) of each of these heading vegetables every other week August-October. This will lead to plenty of harvests over a long period of time. Succession planting starts with seed, and this is the easiest and least expensive way to extend your ability to grow what you love to eat!
I start all my seed directly in Soil³. Either by seeding right into the ground, or in the case of the heading veggies, in trays that I am recycling from past purchases. You read that right: I sow directly into Soil³ - no mixing with potting soil. Over the years that I have found Soil³ to be the ideal media for starting seeds. Here is a YouTube video showing exactly how I do it!
Harvest & Eat
August is a month of abundance for summer crops. Right now, I am overwhelmed by cucumbers, but I know that won’t last long. I like to make Gazpacho, heavy on the cukes, to serve instead of salad at this time of year. A cold, refreshing, homegrown soup is an ideal way to start any meal. I keep it simple - no peeling or de-seeding at all, just throwing what I have from the garden into a food processor. Here is my recipe:
Brie’s Easy Gazpacho (with Extra Cukes)
- 4-5 medium sized cucumbers: wash, cut ends off, cut into quarters with the skin on and leave the seeds
- 3 tomatoes (any variety): wash, core, cut in half
- 1-2 medium flavor peppers: wash, cut top off, de-seed, if necessary
- 3-5 cloves of garlic: peel, leave whole
- 1 onion: peel, cut in half
- 1 tbs cumin: because I add cumin to everything
- 5-10 fresh basil leaves: because I also add fresh basil to everything
- Add all ingredients to your food processor
- Pulse until everything is chopped evenly
- Pour into a large bowl for storage
- Taste: is it missing anything? SALT! Add salt and pepper for your preference
- Store in refrigerator for 4-6 hours before serving
- I like to drizzle glazed balsamic vinegar when serving
The blooms on this ‘Queen Lime Blush’ Zinnia are spectacular! I didn't plant these until June 10 and they are flowering now.
Harvest & Preserve
Pickles are another great way to preserve your cucumbers. We are still eating the pickles I made LAST year! Here is an easy tutorial:
If you don’t want to can your pickles, here is a delicious and easy refrigerator pickle recipe: Easiest fridge dill pickles by Smitten Kitchen
Tomatoes are a staple crop that are starting to come in strong through August. After the Tomato Tasting party I will begin to preserve my ‘maters in various ways. I love to make sauce and salsa as well as tomato juice for bloody Mary’s. Here are a few simple recipes:
Drying herbs, like basil, is also an easy way to extend the flavors of summer! If you have never dried herbs before, make this the year you try it. I promise, you will not regret having your own homegrown herbs stashed away in your pantry.
General Garden Management Tips
Water and fertilizer are two of the key ingredients for garden success in August. You may notice your plants are starting to look dull and perhaps they are less productive compared to the month’s past. That probably means they need some food, specifically fertilizer.
My favorite way to kick start my plants in August is to drench them in fish emulsion. Yes, ALL your neighbors will know you have been fertilizing, but the results are incredible. This is especially important for container plants since their nutrients leach out with daily watering.
The Seminole pumpkin is growing under as well as climbing up the Limelight hydrangea. I have another patch of this vine and can't wait to harvest some delicious pumpkins later this fall.
Speaking of containers, it may be time to reevaluate your summer pots. I find that by now many of the combinations I made in the spring are overgrown, drying out daily, and generally look less than awesome. Now is a great time to transplant container plants into the garden or bump them up into larger pots. I use straight Soil³ for all my container gardens.
And speaking of planting in straight Soil³ compost, the tomatoes I planted directly in the Soil³ Mini Cubes (1 cubic foot bags) are thriving! See how I planted them here:
To make this area look extra nice I reused a few pallets to create an ornamental fence to conceal these bag planters. (And see how much those tomatoes have grown!)
Cutbacks may also be necessary to ensure your landscape looks tidy and well cared for. I have been doing a lot of tree trimming, as well as shearing hedges and cutting back spent perennials. If you do this now, you will have less work after frost hits in late fall!
Interested in seeing what my garden looks like? Join me for a tour!
I hope these tips and recipes will help make your summer growing experience delicious and enjoyable! Stay cool through the dog days and I look forward to giving you more gardening tips next month!
Did this help you out? Have any questions for clarity? Leave a comment below!