“Can I start a garden in August?” Yes, you can! Around this time of the year, many gardeners give up. Their once thriving June crops are slowly dying and turning yellow, beaten down by the summer heat (and by Bambi, in my case). Or they may simply be tired of tending to their garden as the novelty has worn off.
I get it. I just pulled out all my green bean plants in disgust. The deer did a real number on them and I have to get back to spraying Liquid Fence on the regular. But instead of throwing my arms up in complete despair, I am going to succession plant.
Start a Garden
What is succession planting?
Succession planting is planting a fresh set of short-season crops in the location where you had another crop previously. As one crop reaches the end of its useful growing season, you plant another.
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Timing your succession planting with your typical fall frost date is essential in order to start a garden in August. Here in Northern Ohio the first chance of frost typically falls mid-October. As you reach that date you will need to pay close attention to the forecast, and if frost is expected, cover your crops with a protective layer such as a bed sheet.
Starting a Garden
What crops are good for succession planting?
When you start a garden in August you will want to pick crops based on their maturation date. Some cool season crops such as lettuce, spinach and mustard mature quickly. They could be ready to pick in as little as 30 to 45 days. You can count back from your frost date to determine how many days you have to grow a crop. Other popular cool season crops include radishes, carrots, peas and broccoli.
If you are like me and grow from seed (Botanical Interests is my favorite seed brand.) you will want to purchase and plant your succession crops ASAP. Another option is to check your local garden center for marked down vegetable plants. Purchasing a live plant can cut reduce the number of days until maturation.
Water and fertilize for added success.
Water your seeds adequately to ensure they sprout. You may also want to fertilize your beds again (I like Espoma’s Organic Plant Tone Fertilizer) to add nutrients back to the soil that your spring and early summer season crops used up. I also like to loosen up the soil and mix it up a bit before starting new seeds. Once seedlings appear after you start a garden in August, top dress your garden beds with grass clippings or mulch to help retain moisture.
Extend the season even longer with a cold frame box.
If you have a cold frame box you may be able to keep your garden growing well past your frost date. A few years ago I had lettuce growing until December! Another option to extend the growing season is to build or buy a hoop house.
I hope these tips help you start a garden. What will you plant?