- harvesting crops at their peak
- replacing moisture lost to increased evapotranspiration (ET)
- watching out for and preventing crop damage, especially damage caused by hot temperatures and intense sunlight and
- planning the transition to our fall and winter food garden.
In the Garden
It's Getting Hot, Hot, Hot!
Food Gardening With Less Water
During our hot, dry Sonoma County summer, food gardeners need
1) to provide enough water to their crops in order to replace the amount lost to surface evaporation and plant transpiration (the "ET Rate") AND
2) to do so in a manner that conserves water.
Answer: Victory Garden
Released in May
Visit the UC Agricultural and Natural Resources website for more information on veggie gardening and other gardening projects and issues that you may want to address in your self-isolation.
Food Garden Tips
August Food Garden Tasks and Tips
For what to grow this month, click here.
- It’s time to start many cool-season veggies. Sow root crops such as beets, carrots and parsnips directly in the ground. Pay close attention to days of maturity. Timing of planting is very important. Fall crops must mature and produce before the growing season ends; winter crops must develop vegetable structure before winter so that they won’t bolt in spring without producing. Bulb onion seed sown now will produce green onions throughout the winter and bulb onions in the spring.
- Set out fall/winter vegetable transplants later in the afternoon and use a row cover for a couple weeks to protect tender seedlings from the sun. Mulch will help with water retention and weed suppression now and protect against cooler weather in October and November. Mulch should not touch the plant stems. Stagger plantings of leafy greens and other favorite cool weather crops that can be harvested before mid-November (average frost date for Sonoma County) and root crops that will survive the winter for a continued harvest.
- Many fall crops are not the most water-wise, so, consider these strategies: Instead of direct-seeding in the hot, dry month of August, you may want to transplant when the weather cools (and, hopefully, fall rains arrive). Check for varieties with a shorter days-to-maturity that can reach maturity before the average first frost date (mid-November in Sonoma County). This will allow you to plant later—hopefully, not in the heat of summer. Given the uncertainties of climate, choose “drought-resistant” or “drought-tolerant” varieties if they are available. Note that this terminology reflects the established plant characteristics; all seed requires water to germinate. Also, see the Food Gardening with Less Water page on the SCMG website.
- Remove finished summer crops by cutting plants just below the soil line to leave the roots to decompose in place. Before planting fall/winter crops, pep up your garden soil by adding one to two inches of properly composted organic matter. No need to dig it in—just add it to the top of the soil and plant into it. Other options include 3-4-3 dried chicken manure pellets OR a complete organic fertilizer (always follow the fertilizer manufacturers’ instructions).
- As always: Weed. Do not let weeds go to seed! They are competing for water and light.
- Pinch back flower heads and spikes on your herbs to maintain the best leaf taste, to encourage new growth, and to discourage bolting in August heat.
- If you split your citrus fertilization into three applications this year, make your last application this month. For mature citrus trees use 1 lb of urea or 6-10 lbs of steer manure (reduce for smaller trees). If spider mites are present, use insecticidal soap or a stream of water to wash them off. New mite generations develop rapidly and may require repeated treatments.
- Applying a few drops of mineral oil with a medicine dropper to corn silks just inside each ear 3 to 5 days after silks first appear may be effective in preventing damage from corn earworm.
- Remember to look at your planting calendar, annotated with days to maturity, so that you harvest your crops at their peak of flavor.
- Is the summer garden infested? An insecticidal soap spray or a horticultural oil will smother many soft-bodied pests including aphids, mites, thrips, and whiteflies without harming many beneficial insects and bees. If you could not control corn earworm (AKA tomato fruit worm) this summer, remove or disc stalks to reduce overwintering populations and prevent migration to neighboring crops. If the veins in your tomato leaves turn purple, your soil is deficient in Phosphorus; this is easily treated with a foliar spray of Epsom salts and/or adding bone meal to the soil.
- Click here for ongoing monthly tasks.