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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

August Garden Tips

August Garden Tips

American singer and songwriter John Fogerty perhaps said it best in his recording of 110 In the Shade.

Handle so hot I can’t stand it
Might shrivel up and blow away
Noonday sun make you crazy
Least, that’s what the old men say

As the mercury continues to climb in a number of regions in the United States, a host of gardeners, including myself, are left wondering what to do now? The tomatoes seems to be cracking open on the vine, the squash are pale yellow and getting smaller by the day, the bugs have chewed clean through most of the bean plants, and the dirt looks more like a set for the Mad Max series than a land of ample vegetation and leafy, green dreams. The season isn’t over though. In fact, some would say August is as an important a month to the garden as any other.

Here are some tips to guide you through the month of gladiolus.

- Plant a fall crop of peas. The roots of peas “fix” nitrogen into the soil for next spring planting. Remember though. When planting peas for fall, plant them almost twice as deep as spring-planted peas. This will help keep the seeds cool and also from drying out before they germinate.

- Gather herbs and flowers for drying and preserving. The best time to gather herbs for drying is during the mid-morning hours, just after the dew has dried off the herbs, but before the sun causes them to wilt.  Cut the herbs in clusters with the stems attached.

- Keep deadheading and harvesting your summer garden. In some of the cooler regions, it is still prime time for cukes, peppers, and tomatoes.

- Begin taking cuttings for new plants. It is recommended to focus on stem cuttings from herbaceous and half-hardy perennials, softwood and semi-hardwood cuttings from shrubs and climbers, Alpines, and Strawberry runners this month.

- Keep the moisture coming (but not too much). With the continuing hot weather don’t be tempted to get hoses out and spray everything including the ground. Surface watering only encourages plant roots to come to the surface. This will make them more vulnerable to drying out. Deliver localized water to the base of your plants.

But perhaps the most beneficial and foundational gardening tip for August is to sit back, iced tea in hand, and behold all that you have worked for. Watch the late season bees go about pollinating. Take in a nose full of the lavender sitting out to dry, oils gently dripping onto the porch. And bit into one of those rich, red, cherry tomatoes that seemed to have start so many months ago but fail to disappear.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.