Gardening isn’t just a spring hobby. Whether you never quite got around to gardening this year, or you’re just looking for more, this is a great month to get growing. Wait...August? Are you sure?
Yes! You might not traditionally think of August as a big season to start a garden, but it definitely works. I’ve been gardening for many years, and while I often start my planting in spring, I learned that August is the perfect time to get a second wind. Plus, here’s one of the best parts: You will save so much money. (So you can buy twice as many plants!) Here are the top reasons why this month is the perfect time to start a garden.
1. It’s time to start your second veggie garden.
If your garden is like mine, then plants like lettuce and beans have faded away while the tomatoes are in full force. Or maybe you forgot to get on that veggie garden planting altogether, and you’ve been relying on the farmers’ market. Well now is a good time to start short-season veggies, such as lettuce, carrots, beans, peas, radish, spinach, and turnips.
Many of these veggies are known as cool season crops because they can handle cooler temps. This makes them popular to plant in spring — but you can also try growing these same veggies in August. As summer temps start to fade away, they should be good to harvest into October.
2. Fall containers are amazing, and it’s time to plant.
It’s always a good time of year to grow containers, but there’s something really amazing about those in fall. Other plants will be fading away, but if you have good fall containers, you can keep summer going.
Right now, garden centers will have some of the best plants for your fall containers: chrysanthemums, sedum, pansies, sweet potato vine, coleus, and kale. You can usually pick up good deals on big, oversized pots right now, so grab one and fill it with some of these favorites. It’ll light up your front yard through September and October.
3. The deals you’ll get on perennials right now are amazing.
Go to the garden center in August, and you’ll find the prices slashed on gorgeous perennials like purple coneflowers, goldenrod, black-eyed Susans, phlox, shasta daisies, hostas, and many others. It’s amazing how much you can save.
If you have spots in your garden to fill, definitely take advantage of these slashed prices. Late summer to early fall is actually the perfect time to plant new perennials, as you want to get them into the ground plenty of time before the ground freezes. This will give them a full “cold season” to get established, so they’ll be ready to bloom by next spring and summer. If you want to your perrnials a little extra protection, add some mulch or straw after planting. This is by far one of the best ways to get a jump start on your garden for next year.
4. Late summer is the perfect time to plant a new tree or shrub.
For similar reasons as planting perennials right now, it’s also a good time for trees and shrubs. Again, you don’t want to wait until October or November to plant because you want to give them time to get established before winter. But August? That's an ideal time.
Garden centers will also have trees, shrubs, and rose bushes slashed on pricing. Since these can be more expensive plants to buy, you have to take advantage of any deals you can get. Just like in spring, be sure to follow all planting directions. You want to give your plant extra attention (like more water and support) while it’s getting established. Then, if you’re in an area with really cold winters, cover it with extra straw around the base and/or burlap around the limbs.
5. You can establish your favorite herbs before winter.
Do you love cooking with fresh herbs? It’s time to get them established in your garden, so grab some plants at your local garden center (they’ll also likely be on sale) and put them in containers outside.
Then, as it starts to get cooler, just bring those herbs inside. Since you planted in August, they’ll be strong and healthy, and they'll add plenty of flavor and life to your cooking. Many people will grow herbs indoors during fall and winter, so by getting your plants established now, you'll make your herb plants easier to bring inside.
Now that you know it’s a good time to be gardening, it’s time to hit the garden center. You can also find great deals online with all the mail order plant companies there are these days. By the way, while you’re out in the garden planting, don’t forget to save the seeds of some of your favorites. While this isn’t technically gardening, you’ll be glad you did when you have all these seeds to grow (or share with friends) next year.
This pose was written by Stacy Tornio, the author of The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book and the mom of two adventurous kids. Together, they like planning vacations centered around the national parks.