There Are Numerous Vegetable Garden Tasks In August . It’s One Of the Transition Months When Many Crops Are Harvested & Others Sown or Planted. Plus Pruning, Planning & Preparation Take Place In August

So What Are the Vegetable Garden Tasks In August?

Simple, we need to Harvest, Sow, Plant, (Water?) and Grow Our Fruit and Veg. But of course that simple phrase isn’t so simple to put into action until we understand what needs doing and have a plan. That’s why I’ve written this post, to help you understand the August Vegetable & Fruit Garden Tasks. Once I’ve given you my insight it’s up to you to plan your August workplace and get on with it.

Let’s start with veg….

August Vegetable Harvesting

There’s a lot of crops to be harvested in August.

Potatoes

Some potatoes will probably be ready this month. And if you’ve empty ground where the earlies came out it can be planted with another crop. August can be a hot and humid month, ideal for Late Blight of potatoes and tomatoes. So keep an eye open for potato blight. If you see it on potatoes cut the haul off immediately and harvest asap. That way you can save the crop, though the yield may not be great depending on the stage of growth.

Potato
Freshly harvested potatoes

Where potatoes are begining to bulk up they will respond well to irrigation. A good drink soon swells the tubers and can double or even treble the yield. But much depends on the weather in August. July 2022 was a very dry month for most of the UK and hose pipe bans will curtail watering of many crops. Now is the month when careful rain water harvesting and storage will start to pay off.

Harvesting Tomatoes, Beans and Onions in August

Tomatoes grown in greenhouses and polytunnels are likely to be harvesting well by now. I used to pick the bulk of my commercial crop of tomatoes in August. A ton or two a day was quite usual. We used to try to manage the crop so we had most to pick on Thursday. That way they reached the shops on Friday ready for the consumer to buy on Friday or over the weekend. It’s not difficult to manage ripening by manipulating the deleafing of the crop to enable the truss to warm up. In addition we could manage day and night time temperatures to ensure warmth just when needed. But, take care, get it wrong and the humidity wil peak and blight will strike. We should never see blight on tomatoes in a greenhouse. I’ve never seen commercial growers get it. But amateurs sometimes make it too humid and then shout when blight strikes. High temperature AND high humidity will always end up in blight.

Stick beans (runners beans), French beans and late crops of broad beans will be harvesting this month. Once finished get them out and something sown or planted in their place. Successional planting creates greater yields.

Onions are also being lifted this month, if not already harvested. The Japanese over wintered varieties will have been lifted in June. Now it’s the turn of spring sown seed and setts. Personally I find seed produces the highest yields. But setts are easier for amateurs.

Courgette and Cucumber Harvesting in August

By now a lot of gardeners are wondering if their cues and courgettes will ever stop producing fruit. They’ve given away loads and neighbours cross the road when they see us coming … because they have had enough free veg! But now’s the time to plan for the next crop. Both cues and courgettes can be sown in the first days of August and will crop by autumn. Personally I tend to sow in late July, but this year I’m likely to sown some courgettes in August!

Lettuce, Herbs, Oriental Leaves & More To Harvest in August

Onions ready for harvest
Onions ready of rharvest

When growing commercially I’d speak to my wholesaler each Friday and forecast what I’d have ready the next week. It might be 1000 boxes of lettuce (12,000 heads) or 250 boxes of spring onions. But they needed harvesting quickly or would spoil. So I’d tell him I’d have, say, 1000 boxes of lettuce for at the end of the week. That would mean being in the field to start cutting by 4-4.30 am while the dew was still on them. And cutting until we had fulfilled the order. It was hard, hot and tough work. I don’t regret not having to do any longer!

If we left a crop for a couple of days too long in August they would be sub standard. Fortunately as amateurs we aren’t as fussy as supermarkets and can start harvesting early and still harvest late. Heritage varieties also help as they don’t all mature at once. They extend their season by being a bit uneven.

Carrots Harvesting in August

Carrots from spring sowings are still being harvested this month. the question is, what to replace them with. Fortunately there are plenty of choices.

Sowing Vegetables In August .. One of the Vegetable Garden Tasks In August

With land becoming empty as we harvest in August the plan is to either plant module raised crops within a day or two .. hours ideally as I hate space being wasted. OR we can direct sow seed into the empty beds or plots.

I’m not going to try to list everything that could be harvested this month. It’ll fill this page and more. But once things are ready to harvest you need to get on with it as they can soon spoil. Each year people send me photos of crops that have blown with a question about when they will be ready for harvest. In many cases they had been ready several weeks before.

I’ve written a lot more about What to Sow in August in another post so I’ll not go into detail here. Suffice to day that there are dozens of things that can be sown now in modules for later planting. Some will mature this year and some of those sown later in August will mature next spring. A prime example is spring onion. Sown early August they will harvest in the autumn. Sown a few days later they will mature by Christmas and a few days after that they will mature in spring.

Which are the critical dates you might ask. I can’t tell you. I don’t know.

Why?

Because everyone’s conditions vary as does the weather. I have a good idea what works for me. But I’ve only been in this garden three years and am still learning. Plus we have global warming and the seasons are rapidly changing.

What I do know is that last year I sowed every 5-7 days and caught all three harvest dates. But don’t worry if you don’t. Many plants are very forgiving. For example, spring onion that are ready at Christmas can be left to mature into bigger plants for later. Some of mine were left a long time outside and became bulb onions. Most people don’t realise this will happen with spring onions, but they grow into large white mild flavoured bulbs that eat very well.

Of course not all species of veg area that forgiving.

Christmas Potatoes

There’s been a craze for winter potatoes in recent years. People want home grown potatoes on Christmas Day.

It is possible of course. But it is against all the potato has been bred to do. It’s far happier growing in spring and summer and making it grow from an August planting is a bit like pushing water uphill.

There’s a a good chance you’ll get a crop if you can keep autumn and winter frosts at bay. But it’s a lot of faff and the yield will not be huge. But hey, gardening is also meant to be fun. so give it a go if you wish.

Sowing Cool Weather Crops in August

August is the month for sowing oriental salads .. especially the brassica crops such as Chinese cabbage, Pak choi, Wasabi mustard greens and many other varieties. They do well as the weather gets cooler. And in these uncertain times I’ll be sowing several times in August to ensure I have crops when I need them.

Sowing for Under Cover Or Outside in August?

Some of our August module sown crops can be planted outdoors and some will do better in a greenhouse or tunnel. Much depends on your local microclimate and when you want to harvest. Those under cover will mature much quicker and are more like a catch crop than anything. A lot of my July 2022 module grown crops were also being harvested in July. In some cases they will be replaced with later July or early August sown replacements. Which will depend on decisions made on the day. But if I have grown too many plants I can easily give them to neighbours or plant outdoors.

It’s likely that my late August / early September sown modules will replace some of the crops being planted in early August. That’s the beauty of fast growing cut and come again crops. We can soon pull out a crop that has peaked and replace it with another one. By doing this I often get 6-7 crops from every bed each year. It can be very productive.

Stopping Mature Plants In August

Some crops go on and on, gradually dwindling over time. Tomatoes are a prime example. Often I hear people in the south of the UK say they are still picking tomatoes in November of even December. But the quantity is low so I question if it is worth it. Better, in many cases, to stop the plants and replace them with another, more productive crop. I used to allow tomatoes six weeks to crop after pinching out the leader. So that was stopping them in early August.

That way I could get a good yield from the tomsr rip them out in September and get a lettuce crop before Christmas. Then it was a second lettuce crop to harvest in April the following year. Three crops from the greenhouse with little extra effort.

Runner beans are similar. I pinched them out in August to ensure they cropped fast and then finished.

And here’s a tip on pinching out tall runner beans that are impossible to reach. Get a thin bamboo cane, reach up and flick the leader with it. It’ll sever the vine and stop it in its tracks. The rest of the crop will mature and you can rip out the crop and replace it with something else a month or so later.

Don’t forget tomatoes still need sideshooting in August. Deleafing is also a task as they ripen. Don’t be to enthusiastic though. Too frequently I see stems bear of leaves “to divert the nutrients to the fruit”. sadly it doesn’t work like that. Toms need leaves to turn nutrients into the sugars etc that they need to grow and ripen fruit. So only remove the leaves up to the truss that is ripening. It’s done to make it easier to see the ripening fruit and to increase temperature around the fruit. Any more and the plants suffer.

The removed leaves from toms can go straight onto the compost heap. Don’t leave them in the greenhouse to wither as they are likely to get botrytis which could spread to your plants. Greenhouse hygiene is important.

Direct Drilling Seeds In August

Now is the month to sow crops such as late turnips. Just drill them direct in the bed with a seed drill if you have a lot to sow, or by hand if like me you have just a few to drill.

Turnips do really well most years if sown in August. On the farm I’d often grow a crop for the sheep after cereals. We’d harvest the corn and just spread the seed on top of the stubble without cultivating it. The seed is small and I’d mix it with sand so I could put it through one of the fertiliser spreaders. It was a rough and ready way of growing a crop but worked much better than most people expected. Given a shower of rain the seed would soon geminate and get going.

Stubble turnips gave us an extra crop for autumn grazing sheep. Once they’d been eaten and the sheep had left their dung we could still drill autumn drilled cereals.

We can do similar in our gardens and allotments. But we can do it better. Instead of scattering seed and hoping for rain we can pull out a drill, water the bottom of it with a can, sow our seed and cover it with DRY soil. The dry soil acts as a soil mulch that stops the soil drying out. It stops the moisture we added from evaporating so easily. So the seed get it.

If we water after sowing we get much more evaporation and the soil can dry out. Dust mulching is a proven method of maintaining soil moisture and going to become more important as the planet warms up!

More on Vegetable Garden Tasks In August below

Composting No Dig Beds

No Dig beds are best treated to a layer of compost in autumn. But now is a possible time as well if you’ve time and going to be planting a longer term crop that precludes adding compost later.

Watering In August

August can be variable rainfall month and irrigation is likely to be needed outside, plus the usual watering inside.

August 2022 started very dry after a very long dry spell during July. In my own garden in East Devon we had 3mm of rain during July 2022. The previous year we had had 66mm in the same period. And in 2017 we had 7mm in a single hour on July 21st .

So, with so much variability in rainfall, the need to harvest and store rainwater has never been more important. As is the use of that water.

I’m watering crops in containers and in my greenhouse. But I’m leaving much of my outdoor crops to take their chances. In the last few days of July I started watering individual leek plants with just a drop beside each plant rather than the whole bed. The idea is that the water wil trickle down beside the shaft to the root and enable the plant to obtain some water. It certainly saves water but how successful it will be we will only know in time.

I’m also catching all the water coming from my bathroom sinks . I’ve simply removed the waste down pipes outside the bathroom and diverted them into containers. This water is a bit soapy but is good enough to water fruit trees and similar provided they are given a good drenching rather than little and often. This has worked in previous dry periods and we’ll see how successful it is this year.

I rather suspect the diversion of some waste water away from the drains and into tanks might become very common in future. Provided we don’t try to use water with obnoxious chemicals in it then “grey water” is OK for most plants.

When I was in Cape Town, during their very severe drought, grey water was used to flush toilets. This again could become the norm in the UK in the near future.

Greenhouse crops, especially tomatoes, peppers and cues will need plenty of water in August if they are to crop well. Keep them short of water and they will abort fruit and stop growing.

Weeding In August

Dry times bring one benefit. The weeds tend to grow slower. And those that do manage to grow are easier to kill. Simply hoeing them is enough to kill most top growth in hot weather. And hoeing has the added benefit of creating a dust mulch on the soil surface.

But better than hoeing is the removal of the odd stray weed in No Dig beds. No dig prevents many weeds from growing anyway and the few that do are easy to remove by hand. They just pull out of the soil very easily. But do it when they are very small so they never get away from you and seed when you aren’t looking! Some weeds can go from seed to seeding in just a few weeks. We call them ephemeral weeds .. and sometimes use stronger language when they do seed.

Remember, one year’s seeding is seven years weeding. Get rid of weeds as early s possible.

Planting Late Crops in August

I prefer to transplant all my leeks in July. But any leftovers could be transplanted this month. They will not grow as big as the earlier ones but can still make a decent crops if looked after.

Cabbage
Cabbage

One good trick is to plant some in a greenhouse or tunnel and keep well watered and fed. They will be of a harvestable size in 6-8 weeks. I’ve put some in large containers and they are already growing away quite fast.

Some brassicas, such as cabbage, can also be planted now. They’ll mainly mature in the spring from this date, though dense plantings of leafy brassicas can be harvested in the autumn or early winter. The selective cropping of every other plant can give the remaining plants space to grow into the spring crop.

And of course the Asian brassicas such as Pak Choi, Kailan and Chinese Cabbage will mature this year. Especially those grown in the greenhouse or tunnel.

August is also the month when I transplanted module grown parley. It was always the most profitable crop I’d grow each year but was a lot of work. The idea was to have fresh parsley for Christmas.

We’d module grow it in August. Transplant into a 140×14 ft tunnel and water and feed it well. It grew very rapidly and by September was ready for harvest. The problem being it was too early.

The solution was to mow it with a lawn mower to within an inch or two of soil level and keep watering. The regrowth crop would be ready in December and we’d harvest a few days before Christmas. From the 2000 square foot of tunnel we’d get over 1000 boxes of parsley that would go to markets across the South of England. Imagine how many bunches go into a box and how long out took to cut them. And think about how cold a polytunnel can be in December.

Vegetable Garden Tasks In August .. and Beyond

Sow that’s the start of Vegetable Garden Tasks In August. I’m going to be adding more to this page in the next few days and will write a Vegetable Tasks article every month from now on.

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Category tag Vegetable Garden Tasks In August

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