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Let’s Talk about August 2017

By: Pat Cordray

Julep in the shade

Whew, we are now in the midst of the dog days of summer. It’s just hot, hot, hot! Believe it or not, August is the start of fall vegetable gardening. You’re thinking, no way it’s not time for that. It’s just too hot. Fall weather doesn’t start around here until maybe late September or so. True, but if you start in August, you can grow so much more. Vegetables aren’t all that you can grow this time of the year, but that is where we are starting.

The main ingredients for growing vegetables are the plants or seeds, sun, soil, and water. Just imagine eating vegetables that you have grown yourself in your own yard. It’ll be great and it’s super easy!
Do you want to use transplants or seeds? Choose the right plants for the season and also choose vegetables that you like to eat. Don’t over plant, this crowds your vegetables, give them plenty of room for good production and air flow. Plant larger growing vegetable plants on the north side of the garden so they won’t block the sun from the smaller growing plants. Using seeds? Kathryn is going to cover growing vegetables from seed in her article this month, so check it out. I’ll add my favorite tips for seed growing. Before you open the seed packet, check the planting instructions for that vegetable and follow the instructions. Once you open your seed packet, check your seeds to make sure they are not broken, broken seeds will not germinate. Don’t store your seeds in the car, it is too hot. I love to use MycoStim any time I plant and that includes when I plant seeds. I use a hoe handle to make my row, then I place my seeds in the row with the appropriate amount of space between the seeds, remember, more is not always better.   Then, I put my MycoStim in an unused laundry measuring cup. I put a little MycoStim on my seeds and then finish planting. Water gently, don’t use the jet option on your hose end sprayer, that will just wash your seeds away. The MycoStim helps with root growth, transplant shock and stress resistance.
Growing your vegetables from transplants is easy. Again, choose the right vegetable plants for the season, pick what you want to eat. Don’t get too many, it is very tempting
but there is usually a limit to the size of the garden. When the garden is ready and the time is right, gently take the transplant out of its container. Put MycoStim on the root ball. Then Plant. Plant most transplants in the garden at the same level they were in the original container, tomatoes can be planted deeper. Plant on a cloudy day or in the evening to protect transplants from the sun.
For fall plants think leafy greens, root crops, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.

Mustard Greens with Nasturtiums 
Kale

Here is a guide to help you pick what to grow and when to plant:

When to Plant Fall and Winter Vegetables
Vegetable
Seed/Transplant
When to Plant
Beans, Bush
Seed
September
Beans, Lima
Seed
Mid-August – September
Beets
Seed
September – Mid-October
Broccoli
Transplant
September – January
Brussels Sprouts
Transplant
September – January
Cabbage
Seed
August – November
Cabbage
Transplant
*September – November
Carrots
Seed
September – November
Cauliflower
Transplant
September – January
Collards
Seed
September – December1
Collards
Transplant
September – January
Cucumber
Transplant
September – January
Garlic
Clove
Late September –
Mid November
Kohlrabi
Transplant
Mid-September – November
Leek
Seed or Transplant
October – November
Lettuce, Leaf
Seed or Transplant
Late September – December
Mustard Green
Seed or Transplant
September – November
Onion
Transplant
*November
Peas, snap
Seed
Late September-October
January – Early February
Peas, Southern
Seed
August 1 – late August
Potatoes Irish
Seed Potatoes
mid- August – late August
*February
Radicchio
Seed
Late September – October
Spinach
Seed or Transplant
October – November
Squash, summer
Transplant
Early September
Squash, winter
Seed or Transplant
Mid-August
Swiss Chard
Seed or Transplant
September – October
Tomatoes
Transplant
mid July – mid-August
Turnips
Seed
September – November
January – February
This list was taken from Kathy Huber’s article in the Houston Chronicle, Aug. 14, 2009, with a few adjustments made by *Lisa Gaige
Next up, look for the sun. Most vegetable plants are going to need at least 6 hours of full sun. Take a look around your yard and see if you have a spot that would work. Watch the area when it rains, does water stand? If it does, you might not want to plant in the ground there. Most plants, including vegetables, need good drainage. If it is the only spot that has adequate sun, you may consider doing a raised container garden. Raised container gardens are an easy way to grow vegetables. Put a couple of cinder blocks on the ground, to the height you want, then place your container on top. I have mine at a height that I can use a gardening chair to plant, weed and water, uh oh, my lazy gardener is showing. If you are going to plant in the ground, you will need to raise the garden at least 6 inches, more if you can afford to. This allows for good root space and drainage. The bed should be able to be tended without stepping into it. If you do a wide garden, add stepping stones so that you can get into your garden to maintain it without compacting the soil. If this is your first garden, don’t make it too large for you to maintain. Start small.
Soil, get the best soil you can. Good soil makes better vegetable plants and vegetables with fewer problems. If you can’t afford to raise your bed to the proper height at first, about 6 – 12″, you can always add soil to your garden each season until you get the height you need.
Water, is our next ingredient, for a good vegetable garden. Water your garden slowly over a longer period of time. I’ve noticed in my container garden that when I check the soil after I water, the soil on top is wet and the water is draining out of the drainage holes. The top couple of inches are wet but below the soil is very dry. Always check. Use your hand or a hand trowel and dig down a few inches to check. Once the soil is dry it is difficult to get it moist again. When you plant make sure the soil is moist, not muddy or dry. While you are watering, is the time to keep an eye on your plants. You are looking for signs of bugs, leaf or fruit damage. The sooner you take care of a problem in the garden the easier it will be to solve. Don’t forget to fertilize, we recommend Microlife. Microlife is an organic fertilizer that is not going to burn your plants.
That wasn’t so hard, was it?
August bonus!
Hummingbirds migrate through this area August – October. If you want them to visit your garden plant for them. Here are a few plants that attract hummingbirds: flame acanthus, hamelia, Texas Betony, Turk’s cap, shrimp plant, pineapple sage, firecracker fern, cigar plant. Get these plants in your garden now to help feed the hummers while they are here. If you use feeders, keep them full and clean. I love when hummingbirds visit my garden and I know you will love it too.
Enjoy your garden with a glass of iced tea!