August is a tough month in the garden for our area. This far into the dry season, the extra heat can really be hard on tender plants. Even natives, if they’re not established, or are used to gentle coastal fogs, may need extra water at this time of the year. Stressed plants not only wither, but become more susceptible to pests and diseases. On hot days, citrus and other fruit trees may drop fruit if they do not receive enough water this month.
Make sure your trees and beds have a thick, water-retaining layer of mulch to regulate solid temperature and avoid damage from drought. Getting your garden chores out of the way early in the morning is a great way for you to avoid the excessive heat, too.
Tasks for August:
- Deadhead the flowers that you will not be keeping for seed.
- Prune berry vines when you have finished harvesting the fruit.
- Place ripening melons on inverted aluminum pie tins, tiles, or boards to keep them off the soil. This avoids damage from overnight dampness and vermin, and reduces insect damage. The aluminum reflects heat, which helps the fruit ripen.
- Prop up fruit-heavy tree branches so they won’t break.
- Shade greens from intense sun.
- Pick up fallen fruit so it won’t attract pests or breed disease.
- Set out winter-garden vegetables during the next months. Peas, beets and other root crops can be grown from seed.
- Fertilize your heavy feeders, like corn, cucumbers, squash, lettuce and onions, using an organic fertilizer. A dilute solution of fish fertilizer once a week works well.
- Harvest herbs for drying.