August Slowdown Lets You Enjoy Your Garden

KimForColumnAugust 6, 2014

by Kim Riedel
Master Gardner

It’s August already? Where has all the time gone? Time seems to be going faster and faster especially when I keep myself busy.

July was a great month in the garden and has really kept me running. Even though the berries have been coming to an end, the peppers were producing, tomatoes were coming in, and the plums have been picked. The thought of moving my aquaponic system out to my garden has crossed my mind, and I am in the process of planning it out; it will be nice to be able to watch the growth of my plants in the system from the sunroom. 

There were some sweet potatoes that started sprouting on my counter so I took them out to one of my raised beds and planted them with the hope that I will get additional sweet potatoes. 

I have also been going out to my garden everyday and picking different varieties of peppers to slice and take to work for my snacks along with a few of the smaller varieties of tomatoes. Not only has it been good for me financially to take snacks that were grown in my garden, but it is also healthier than a lot of snacks that I have had at other times of the year when the garden is not producing.

One of the highlights of my gardening experiences that I just had is trading a bag of tomatoes and hot peppers for a bottle of Naga Ketchup. What is this Naga Ketchup? It’s homemade ketchup made with the Naga chili pepper otherwise known as a ghost pepper, which held the title of being the hottest pepper in the Guinness World Records from 2007 through 2011. It is now in third place with 600,000+ to over one million Scoville heat units (SHUs). The Naga chili pepper dwarfs the jalapeno in comparison which has only an SHU of 2,500-8,000. 

Getting back to the garden, keep doing what you have been doing for the past few months with the watering, weeding, composting, and monitoring of the insects. Continue to deadhead (removing the spent flowers) your roses and perennials so they will continue blooming and looking better. 

Earthworms are great to help break down organic matter. If you want to aerate the subsoil, have a thin layer of mulch since the worms will burrow downward. Having thick mulch will encourage the worms to stay higher and help improve the upper soil layers.

August is a good month to divide your iris rhizomes, even though many of the perennials were best to be divided back in May. If there are signs of borers in the iris rhizomes, discard them and do not add to your compost. Check your pears for signs of maturity. Pears should be picked when they are still somewhat immature and stored in a cool location to finish ripening. Harvest your vegetables frequently since it will encourage the plants to continue producing and keep your soil evenly moist with the use of mulch; it will help reduce blossom end rot on tomatoes.

This is a great time to plant cool season plants that you will harvest in the fall. Some of my favorite crops to plant in August are peas, lettuce, cucumbers and broccoli. A fall garden gives you a second go-around for some of your crops in the garden!

A few reminders of what I think are important are monthly journaling so you can remember the successes and failures to help you with future years and keeping up with the composting for it gives great nutrients to your plants in the garden. August can be a hot, dry month, and you may tire of taking care of your plants… but don’t give up, there is still much ahead for produce and beauty that will come from your garden. There isn’t as much to do this month compared to other months so take the time to stop and enjoy your garden.  

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