Last week I mentioned that August was a good time to plant all sorts of plants, but I failed to mention vegetables. It might seem hard to imagine that in the heat of August we would be planting vegetable crops that thrive in the cooler time of the year, but in reality this is the time to get them established. It won’t be long before the day and night temperatures of September will mimic those back in March and April, which are the perfect conditions to grow all of our root and shoot crops like lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, kale, garlic and more.
Before the end of the month, garden centers will be stocking vegetable starts. If you have any room in the garden after you have pulled out your peas, onions, beets, lettuces and zucchini you can plunge in some new transplants and in eight weeks you will be eating fresh produce once again. You can also direct-sow root crops, like carrots and beets, and harvest them later in the winter or early spring. Like any time we put new plants into the ground, it is essential to amend the soil with compost and enrich it with an organic fertilizer. I also like to add some earthworm castings, some lime and Azomite that is rich in micro-nutrients. Once your crops are planted you should be in good shape until November when we could have some serious frosts. A “frost blanket” is an inexpensive item that can add at least 5 degrees of protection. You can also create temporary structures out of PVC pipes and cover them with clear plastic that will capture the heat from the sun. Be sure to keep the ends open to let air pass through (you can close them at night), and don’t forget to water inside since the plastic cover will deflect the rain.
If you do all of those things you should expect a reasonable return on our efforts. It’s really no different than when we plant a cool season crop in the spring and hope to get it growing and harvested before it gets too hot. If you haven’t tried growing veggies before, it’s a fun experience and practice makes perfect.