Seasonal Tips for Gardening Zones August-September 2002

article image
ILLUSTRATION: DIANE A. RADER
Timely gardening tips for where you live.

Learn about current August and September seasonal tips for gardening zones in the U.S.

New England/Maritime Canada Gardening

Putting up food and saving seed are a priority right now.
Watch for fully mature, dry seedpods and collect them
before they shatter. Spread the seeds out to dry completely
before storing. Finish harvesting garlic and take advantage
of that precious open ground. There is plenty of time to
sow a cover crop, like oats or rye. Or turn in 2 to 4
inches of compost and plant fall greens, such as spinach,
bok choi, arugula, mesclun, corn salad or cilantro. Spinach
planted during the first two weeks of August will grow to
full-size by late September; later plantings will produce
smaller leaves. Clean up early drops from around fruit
trees. Watch for branches overloaded with fruit and support
with props or thin the fruit: Fruit-burdened peach branches
are especially prone to breaking.

Mid-Atlantic Gardening

Plant lettuce, carrots, beets, radishes, kale, kohlrabi,
turnips, spinach, beans, summer squash and Chinese greens
through August. Switch to cold-tolerant varieties of
lettuce, such as “Thai Oakleaf 88,”‘ around August 20, and
transplant the last fall brassicas by then. To trap
harlequin bugs next spring, try planting a mix of kale,
turnips and mustard as an edible cover crop. Keep winter
roots weeded through September, and sow spinach, kale,
collards, radishes and Chinese greens weekly. Continue
harvesting summer veggies, using that last burst of summer
harvest to make sure you have enough tomato sauce, salsa
and pickles to last the winter. Steam and freeze surplus
broccoli. Keep strawberries watered and weeded. Plant vetch
and winter rye as a cover crop on bare soil and protect
remaining produce with row cover as October frosts
approach.

Southern Interior Gardening

Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, cucumber,
kohlrabi, lima beans, mustard, turnip, squash, pumpkin,
rutabaga and early peas can still be planted from seed in
warmer regions. Keep soil moist and shaded with a thick
layer of compost or grass clippings. You may also want to
try transplants of bell peppers and tomatoes and beat the
cold weather with some tasty treats. For rose growers it’s
time to fertilize and lightly prune those blooming beauties
to keep them healthy for next season. September is also a
great time for planting pansies for some late-season color.
Speaking of color, if you are planning to plant bulbs for
spring, be sure to order them so you will have them for
planting in October and November.

Gulf Coast Gardening

Hot August days test your devotion to gardening, but
persevere: Effort now will pay off with bountiful fall
crops later.

Make a big batch and freeze it in ice cube trays. Transfer
the pesto cubes from the trays into freezer bags and you’re
ready for quick, easy meals of your favorite pasta tossed
with sweet basil and garlic pesto.

Transplant tomatoes, bell peppers and brassicas, and plant
collards, mustards, turnips, squash, cucumbers, lima beans,
shallots, Irish potatoes and southern peas. Middle to late
August is a good time to plant carrots, beets, snap beans
and lettuce. In September, add greens and English peas to
the mix, and plant garlic and onions later in the month.
Watch new transplants carefully: Their little roots dry out
easily, and their growth will be significantly retarded by
lack of water. it takes at least two weeks for roots that
were confined to small pots or six-packs to expand enough
to support active growth. Purchase transplants in larger
pots or grow your own to start out with a bigger, healthier
root system.

Central/Midwest Gardening

Summer is not over yet! Start cold season vegetables now
for your fall harvest. Lettuce, kale, radish, spinach and
mustard greens can produce through late fall if planted
along the south side of your house or in a cold frame. Add
fall annuals, like pansies, stocks, snapdragons or
flowering kale, for additional color until the snow
arrives. This is the season when powdery mildew, late
blight and other fungal diseases arrive. If these become a
persistent problem despite good sanitation measures, look
for more disease-resistant varieties next year. Plant
spring bulbs and garlic in late September. If this fall is
like recent ones in the Midwest, protecting your plants
from the first few nighttime frosts could allow you two or
three more weeks of growing season.

North Central and Rockies Gardening

Take advantage of hot weather to dry tomatoes for winter
salads. (Softened with a bit of lemon juice and olive oil,
they will be much tastier than any you could buy.) There’s
still time to start fall crops of hardy greens, especially
if you pick a sheltered place where they can grow until
November. In August, get a jump on fall cover crops by
interplanting them between corn, carrots and other row
crops. To get better germination in hot, dry weather, try
this trick: Hoe a 4-inch-deep furrow, then soak it with
water before sowing with clover or vetch. Blueberries are
at their best now: Keep them watered and well-protected
from wild “berryvores,” both feathered and furred. Prune
out second-year raspberry canes when they’re finished
bearing, but wait until after a hard frost to thin and top
the first-year canes.

Pacific Northwest Gardening

Cooler temperatures and
an occasional late summer shower often bring a second
spring to Northwest gardens. Fall-harvested, edible pod peas
are sweet and tender, with pickings extending into early
winter. Plant cabbage, broccoli, bok choi and all types of
mustard until mid-September, covering with lightweight row
covers to exclude cabbage fly and cabbage moth. Sow beets,
spinach, carrots, arugula, lettuce and seasonal delicacies,
such as “Misato Rose” radish (see “Discover Unique Varieties of Radishes for the Garden” in this issue) ,
corn salad, endive, radicchio, chervil and broccoli raab.
Spread compost or manure on implanted areas or sow
fall-sown cover crops, such as clover, Austrian field peas,
fava beans, vetch and winter wheat. As you cut down summer
annuals and biennials, such as foxglove, hollyhock, poppy
and sweet william, break apart the seed heads and sprinkle
the seeds around. In spring you’ll have a good stand of
seedlings.

Southwest Gardening

Garden weeds will gain ground if
you’re not diligent about weeding. Keep crops picked to
encourage production and smother weeds with wheat-straw
mulch. Plant fall lettuces, onions, anything in the cabbage
family, garlic, cilantro, peas and even desert wildflowers.
Plant native perennial bunchgrass in any bare, uncultivated
spaces. A single 8-inch-diameter bunchgrass can insulate
the surrounding ground from the summer sun’s heat, lowering
the soil’s surface temperature by 40 degrees. Revegetation
with local native grasses could have an impact on global
warming, right in your back yard!

Our thanks to the following for their contributions to the
Almanac: Roberta Bailey, FEDCO Seeds, Waterville, Maine;
Cricket Rakita, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Mineral,
Virginia; Connie DamByl, William Dam Seeds, Dundas,
Ontario; Matt Barthel, Seed Savers Exchange, Decorah, Iowa;
Bill McDorman, Seeds Trust/High Altitude Gardens, Hailey,
Idaho; Josh Kirschenbaum, Territorial Seed Company, Cottage
Grove, Oregon; Rose Marie Nichols McGee, Nichols Garden
Nursery
, Albany, Oregon; Craig and Sue Dremann, Redwood
City Seed Co.
, Redwood City, California; Dean Lollis, Park
Seed Co.
, Greenwood, South Carolina.