August garden to-do list

As we wrap up the month of July, there is limited time to plant seeds for a Fall harvest. I am quickly taking inventory of my garden and making a to-do list for this final week of July and early August to ensure that I make the most of this precious dirt.

This weekend, strap on those gloves and do this:

  • Clear out any remaining crops that are harvested, dead, or no longer producing food you want to eat. For me, this will be broccoli, spring kale, and spring carrots.
  • Plant seeds for harvest in Fall (September and October). My favorites: carrots, radishes, salad greens, kale, turnips, lettuce, spinach, arugula, beets, swiss chard, cilantro, bok choy, and broccoli (best as transplant).
  • Weed, with lots of sunshine and hopefully lots of watering, weeds are bursting. Keep your garden clear of weeds to make room for these new sprouts.
  • Thin your new sprouts (hopefully you already put some seeds in the ground earlier this month, if not, there is still time). DSC_0015
  • Fertilize if necessary (it is a good idea to fertilize your new beet sprouts).
  • WATER
  • HARVEST! My carrots, beans, cucumbers, zucchini, and summer squash are growing like crazy. Don’t miss their peek times for picking and enjoy those fresh summer flavors.DSC_0790
  • Tend to your tomato plants. Prune if necessary and harvest.
  • Extra: start thinking about flowers you want next spring/summer. You will want to buy bulbs to get into the ground in September/ October. DSC_0002

You will not regret dedicating this time to the garden when you have fresh veggies into the Fall!

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Pruning tomato plants

I have grown tomatoes for a few years, but this is the first one that I have pruned my plants. To be honest, I didn’t know to do this before now. Ultimately pruning will lead to more, high-quality fruit.

I was suddenly so aware of all the yellow leaves and extra branches and off shoots. I am not an expert, but this is how I am pruning my tomatoes:

  • Only “indeterminate” types of tomatoes should be pruned. These are typically tomato plants that require staking for support.
  • Remove stems with yellow and dying leaves. DSC_0634
  • Remove little off shoots (suckers).DSC_0633
  • There should only be about 3 main stems, if more develop, remove them.

I have highlighted the minimum when it comes to pruning. Since I have never done this, I am starting with the basics as I learn the art of pruning tomatoes.

Before and after pruning:

Have you ever pruned tomato plants? Please share your tips and tricks!

July is the month to plant

Now is the time to plant your seeds for a Fall harvest. Most likely your Spring crop is coming to an end and it is time to reset for the Fall. Did you miss the boat on planting a garden this last Spring? Have you always wanted to try growing veggies? Don’t fret, you have another chance and it is now.

July is sort of like the “New Year” for gardeners. A great time to reset, clean house, and try new things based on what you learned or didn’t do but wanted to do in the Spring. What you need to do now:

  • Finish harvesting your Spring crop – my lettuce bolted (the heat causes the plant to produce flowers and seeds and abandons leaf growth) so I harvested the remaining lettuce leaves and then removed the plants. DSC_0588
  • Clear out any plants that are done producing crop – peas, radishes, broccoli, garlic, and spinach have all completed their Spring harvest and have been cleared from my garden beds.
  • Prepare your soil – after you make space, be sure to add compost and fertilizer to the soil. Learn how to get your soil ready for planting. 
  • Decide what you want to grow this Fall – July is the perfect month to direct seed carrots, radishes, and green beans. I am also taking a chance and direct seeding lettuce, spinach, arugula, and beets (sometimes the seeds don’t germinate when soil temperatures exceed 75 degrees fahrenheit).
  • Get your seeds in the ground and WATER – it is hot and dry. Be sure to keep your soil wet so that your seeds can germinate and grow. DSC_0625

If you have extra time and energy, grow starts of lettuce, kale, broccoli (and any other plants that you can easily transplant). This is my backup plan if it becomes too hot and the lettuce seeds that I directly seeded don’t germinate. I will start lettuce, kale, and broccoli in starter containers and keep them in a cooler location (on my deck). Then I will have plants that are ready to be put into the garden bed as soon as another plant has completed its harvest.

One key lesson that I learned last year was to plant Fall crop in July and early August at the latest. So plant your seeds now and try to directly seed one more round at the end of the month. You should have crop that lasts up until the 1st frost (November in Seattle).

What to directly seed now:

  • Carrots
  • Bush beans
  • Radish
  • Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Collards
  • Peas – I am going to try one more round of peasDSC_0627

Note: If you don’t have a yard, but have a deck or outdoor space, you can still grow veggies. This is your time! Find pots, old tubs, whatever fits in your space. Be sure to prepare your soil and then directly seed into the containers. Make sure there are drainage holes in your containers.

Don’t miss this prime time to plant for Fall crop and possibly, try growing veggies for the very first time.

Always feel free to leave questions or tips in the Comment section.

Harvesting Garlic

Last October I told all y’all that I was planting Garlic for the first time. Well, 9 months later, it is ready to harvest. If you joined me, your garlic stems are brown and dry and can be pulled out of the ground.

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To harvest:

  • Pull out of ground when at least half of the stem is brown and dry (during the month of July)
  • Hang the garlic in a warm and dry location for about 2 weeks to cure (preserve the garlic so that it lasts longer)

I hung my garlic in our garden shed. Now that it is summer, it stays fairly warm at night and is definitely warm during the day.

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Now your 1 clove has turned into an entire head of garlic! Use this to season all your swiss chard, spinach, and other yummy dishes from the garden. Plus, it is loaded with vitamin B6, C, and manganese, so bring on the bad breathe.

Note: If you did not plant garlic last Fall, add this to your list to plant this October. It is so easy, just plan for a 9 month growing season. Learn how to grow garlic.