Ample rain are ending hot dry “Dog Days of Summer” and I hope all of your gardens are well mulched against weeds and producing abundantly. Now is the time to focus on “summer planting for fall and winter harvest”.
August and early September is the time to finish transplanting broccoli, cabbage collards and cauliflower into their well prepared beds for your second cool season garden. You can sow leafy fall brassicas like collards, mustards, arugula, tatsoi and other Asian greens directly into a rich raised bed under spun polyester row cover to keep insects off. Plant it thickly and then thin on a wet day in late August or early September (2-4 weeks later) or you can space the seedlings out into other beds. Transplant Brassicas at 4 leaves(4-6 weeks)and other greens earlier. Keep them under row cover until they are large and sturdy. Cut back all your celery to encourage a second harvest. Direct sow carrots, salad greens, beets, and winter radish seeds weekly for a healthy fall harvest. For more info on extending you garden season read our article on Easy Season Extension,
Keep up harvesting vegetables every other day and planting more seeds every week. August is a good time to order garlic and perennial onions for fall planting. If you are new to growing these culinary essentials our 4 page Garlic and Perennial Onion Growing Guide will get you started.
For garden fresh salad all fall and into winter plant plant more lettuce every week in August and more often in September. Soil temp must be below 80F. If very hot sow in the later afternoon or early evening then cover seed rows with ice, or sow in plastic flat in fridge. Choose a fast-growing summer crisp lettuce like Sierra, increasingly popular seasonal mixes, appetizing mesclun.
Keep everything weeded and well mulched to suppresses weeds, eliminating competition for nutrients and water. Also keep planting Winter Cover Crops as space becomes available to Increase organic matter and build soil by sowing cover crops in all empty beds not need for fall or early spring crops. Our Cover Cropping for Unpredictable Weather will help you plan.
Enjoy the harvest of beans, beets, watermelon, cantaloupes, carrots, celeriac, celery, chard, corn, cow peas, cucumbers, eggplant, hot peppers, lettuce, okra, onions, peppers, pears, scallions, squash, tomatoes, and zucchini.
Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and author of The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast and her newer Grow Great Vegetables in Virginia