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What to do in the garden in August

Even as the days shorten precipitously during the onward march to the fall equinox, August heat is still a threat. Temperatures of 100 F and up are expected next week. Hydrate and stay cool!

But when temperatures stay reasonable, your garden needs you — and you need your garden. There’s plenty you can do to help your garden. Your investment will be repaid in a multitude of ways. Gardens provide relaxation, peace of mind, food, an outlet for exercise, and just the enjoyment of a beautiful environment that you, yourself, cultivated.

What to do this month, specifically? The Oregon State University Extension Service August garden calendar has a number of suggestions. Here are a few:

* Now through mid-September is the best time to establish a new lawn.

* It’s also a great time to make compost out of garden clippings, as well as garden plants that are ready to be recycled. Don’t use clippings that have been treated with herbicides or “weed and feed” products, and don’t compost diseased plants unless using the “hot composting” method (120–150 F).

* Feeling the heat? Your plants are, too. Use mulch to protect ornamentals and garden plants from hot weather damage. Temporary shade is another option, particularly for recent plantings.

* Prune raspberries, boysenberries, and other caneberries after harvest.

* Where you have vacant spaces in the vegetable garden, you can now plant winter cover crops.

* Or, you can plant winter kale, Brussels sprouts, turnips, parsnips, parsley and Chinese cabbage!

* There are several pest monitoring and management issues you can address. It is best to use chemical controls only when necessary. Cultural options should come first, followed by physical (weeding), and finally biological controls. Less toxic chemical options are best.

* Read the whole article for the complete list of tips. Questions? Be sure to use your Master Gardener hotline as a resource.

Every vegetable crop has its time to be planted and every month other than December is the right time to plant … something. (Don’t feel bad for December. You have to read the seed catalog sometime!)

For August, the seed packets you need would be for fall harvest or overwintering crops. Portland Nursery’s helpful Veggie Calendar (PDF) will explain your options. You can pick up the seeds and starts you need from many of our local garden centers.


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