August Sustainable Garden Checklist
Summer seems to be burning away too quickly so I am relishing this last month or two of hot weather before the cool weather of autumn. Some people call August the 'second spring' and that does lighten my step, imagining the new seeds I can sow before the first frosts.
Saying that, I find myself struggling to keep up with all the tasks to do in this deferred 'springtime', and have prepared a checklist below to keep me focused:
1. Pull out the remaining potato plants, harvesting gently with a garden fork to avoid poking holes in the taters and replace the empty plot by sowing carrot seeds that enjoy a frost.
2. Same as the potatoes, my peas are nearing their last breathe with yellowing and even blackened leaves and withered vines; it is time to harvest the last of the peas before taking out the whole plant.
3. Amend the pea plot with compost so it is ready to plant with an autumn and/or winter lettuce harvest. This year I am trying some new varieties, such as heirloom red salad bowl and parris island cos romaine.
4. Keep harvesting perennial herbs such as sage, oregano, thyme and lavender to dry, and now is the last reliable chance to plant annuals such as cilantro and parsley seeds, which appreciate cooler temperatures.
5. If I find that the garden beds are not looking as lush as they should, I add another layer of compost mulch and feed the soil with handfuls of bone meal and/or a comfrey-liquid fertilizer (will explain this in a future post - stay tuned!) to really give beds and containers a boost.
6. Prune flowering shrubs such as hydrangea on the stems that have flowered this season, about halfway down the stem, and then give them a good feed.
7. Divide thick perennials such as salvias, joe pye weed and bearded irises, that could do with more space to grow. Replant the divided plants as soon as possible so that they have time to set roots down before the first frosts.
8. To save money for next year's plantings, this is the perfect time to start collecting the seeds of everything from snow peas and bolted arugula to cosmos, marigolds and calendula.
9. Planning for the winter garden, I need to make some hoop houses over my raised garden beds with bamboo poles or PVC piping and floating row cover cloth (more on this in a later post).
10. And most importantly, Self: make sure to take time to sit, ponder and enjoy mama nature's bounty ~ Winter will be here before we know it!