Gardener’s To-Do List for August

Here’s a zone-by-zone to-do list for the month of August.

February 3, 2012

If you don't know what USDA hardiness zone you live in, check the map here to find out.

August To-Do List for Zone 3


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  • Harvest time! If you're saving seeds, save only healthy ones, and make sure they have thoroughly dried. Clearly label seed storage containers.
  • Pick zucchini when fruit are 4 to 8 inches long—you'll get twice as many.
  • Spray water on the top and undersides of zucchini foliage, early in the mornings, to control spider mites and aphids.
  • After midmonth, pinch off any new tomato flowers to direct energy to ripening fruit.
  • Slowly reduce watering of perennials, trees, and shrubs to allow them to harden-off for the winter.
  • Be prepared to protect plants from early frost.
  • At month's end, take cuttings of geraniums, fuchsias, and begonias. Root them in damp perlite.

August To-Do List for Zone 4

  • Fall will soon be here: Plant lettuce and other fast-growing crops to replace those harvested.
  • Order spring-blooming flower bulbs and garlic to plant next month.
  • Thin strawberry runners.
  • Save seed from favorite open-pollinated tomatoes and peppers to develop the best regional variations of those varieties.
  • At month's end, sow spinach in a coldframe for spring harvest.
  • Clean up spent early crops and replace with cover crops, such as clover, oats, or barley.

August To-Do List for Zone 5

  • Indoors, start seeds of quick-maturing lettuce and brassicas for fall harvest.
  • Cut back berry canes that have finished fruiting.
  • Weed strawberries, then mulch them with compost.
  • Transplant extra strawberry plants to a new bed.
  • If you garden in a semiarid climate, give plants a deep soaking of 1 to 1 1⁄2 inches of water weekly.
  • Re-seed carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes.
  • Remove rose leaves infected with black spot.
  • Take photos and make notes for next year's landscape.
  • Gather globe amaranth, celosia, and golden-rod for air drying.

August To-Do List for Zone 6

  • Water the garden weekly if it isn't getting enough rain.
  • For fall salads, plant leafy greens like lettuce and spinach.
  • Start pansy seeds in flats to transplant in fall for early spring bloom.
  • Sow seeds of poppies, bachelor's buttons (Centaurea cyanus), and sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) where you want their blooms next spring.
  • Gather and dry herbs and flowers at their peak.
  • Send off your order for spring bulbs and garlic for fall planting—ASAP.

August To-Do List for Zone 7

  • If the weather's dry, water your vegetable garden gently but deeply every 5 to 7 days.
  • Before midmonth, sow cool-weather crops like Chinese cabbage, beets, Swiss chard, and mustard.
  • Cover seedbeds with shadecloth and mist the soil often to induce sprouting.
  • Late this month, set out transplants of broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and collards.
  • Stop watering potted amaryllis bulbs; store them in a dark, dry spot for several weeks, then bring them out again to initiate winter bloom.

August To-Do List for Zone 8

  • Prune berries.
  • Gather and dry herbs.
  • In empty beds, plant a cover crop of red clover to build soil and reduce erosion.
  • Start seeds of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower to transplant later.
  • Work compost into the garden now so it can mellow before planting.
  • Continue to set out tomato and pepper transplants.
  • Direct-seed limas, corn, cucumbers, squash, dill, and basil.

August To-Do List for Zone 9

  • Prune back tomatoes and peppers to stimulate new growth and continued production.
  • Shade lettuce, chard, tomatoes, peppers, melons, and eggplants from intense sun.
  • For prize-winning winter squash and pumpkins, pinch off any female flowers and young fruit that develop from now on.
  • Fertilize heavy feeders—such as corn, cukes, lettuce, squash, and onions—using a dilute solution of fish fertilizer, once a week.
  • Harvest annual statice, strawflowers, and ageratum, and then dry them in a cool, airy place.
  • Plant annual candytuft (Iberis umbellata) and marigolds for fall color.
  • Plant calendulas, stocks (Matthiola incana), bachelor's buttons (Centaurea cyanus), and forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica) for early spring color.

August To-Do List for Zone 10

  • Repot indoor plants in fresh soil.
  • Plan the fall and winter food garden and assemble seed orders.
  • Start tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and watermelons in pots—make sure they get enough afternoon shade.
  • Protect the compost pile from full sun—coconut palm fronds or shade cloths will do the job, but leave air space between them and the top of the pile.
  • Keep veggies growing strong with a top-dressing of compost.
  • Continue to solarize empty beds to kill weed seeds and disease pathogens: Water the soil thoroughly, then seal it with clear plastic for 6 to 8 weeks.