So, you want to know what to plant in August. Read on for comprehensive information that will ensure you get the most from your kitchen garden this month, and have a solid plan for fall and winter harvests.
A Word About Hardiness Zones
Stony Ridge Farm, where I live work and play, is in Harpers Ferry, WV. Our USDA hardiness zone is 6a. We have even, four-season weather with the last frost in early May and the first frosts in mid-October.
Knowing your plant hardiness zone will allow you to tailor general garden task information to your specific climate. Click here to learn more.
Here’s a quick overview of plant hardiness zones. Photo Credit: Wikipedia. Use this information to tailor the information in this post to your specific climate.
Why bother with a fall and winter garden?
Technology and skills for building a four-season garden are easily acquired by using the resources in this blog. August is the best month to create garden beds that can produce tasty, nutritious and affordable food throughout many, if not all of the fall and winter months to come.
Harvests of summer crops leave many garden beds ready for replanting. Use the information below to plan crop rotations that provide ingredients for meals from October through March.
I promise you will be amazed a delighted when reaching under frost protection cloth in November for frost-kissed carrots. Once you harvest spinach in February, you’ll never purchase those plastic bags of greens from the supermarket again! Four-season gardening is the antidote to many of the shortcomings with the current food system.
Keep reading to know what to plant in August for fall and winter harvests.
What to Plant in August
Plants that are cold hardy and can thrive in diminished daylight hours are best suited for planting in the August garden. Most crops will require 60-90 days to mature. This means that planting in August requires us to think of October-November harvests.
Many of the crops planted in August, like spinach, kale, and carrots, will be good for regular harvests straight through March. My comprehensive list of what to plant in August is detailed below.
One word of caution.
If you have an exceptionally hot August, as we sometimes do, you’ll need to monitor your soil temperatures. If the soil temperature is above 80 degrees, you will not be able to direct seed crops. Treat soil, cover with a shade cloth, and soak to reduce the soil temperature and ensure adequate germination of any direct-seed crops.
Have questions? Simply leave them in the comment section below. I’m always happy to help!
Brassicas | Cole Crops
Brassicas, also known as cole crops (think coleslaw!) include cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, mustards, and Chinese greens. This is an exceptionally cold hardy group of vegetables that thrive in the fall garden.
While you can direct seed broccoli in the August garden, you’ll get more success when you transplant this crop. Simply start seeds just like you did back in February and March. Once the seedlings have their first true leaves you can transplant in garden beds rich in organic matter.
Broccoli will get frost burn. If, come the fall, you see temperatures dropping down into the low 30s, you’ll need to cover the plants with some floating row cover for frost protection.
Having the row cover handy will also help you protect broccoli and all the other brassicas from the cabbage moth caterpillar. If you see those little white butterflies, cover your cole crops before these very hungry caterpillars decimate them!
Brussels sprouts can take up to 130 days to mature. If you want sweet, freshly harvested Brussels sprouts on your Thanksgiving table, you must plant them in early August. Plant transplants for best results.
There are several varieties of heirloom Brussels sprouts. I enjoy the beauty and flavor of a purple variety call Rubine.
Extremely cold hardy, Brussels sprouts will become sweeter with each exposure to frost. I still cover them with agribon to ensure their perfection for holiday meals.
There are oh so many varieties of cabbages. Definitely spend time with your favorite seed catalog to get the varieties best suited to your needs. For instance, I prefer Late Dutch Flat cabbage and Early Jersey Wakefield for my krauts. Click here to see what our friends at Misfit Gardening have to say on the subject.
Same advice for cabbage as with broccoli and Brussels sprouts, keep the agribon handy to protect from bugs and heavy frosts.
I can’t grow a decent cauliflower. I think all kitchen gardeners have that one veggie or fruit that just won’t perform for them. It’s a shame because I love this versatile fall vegetable!
To help us both out, I found this helpful post from Family, Food, and Garden on planting cauliflower in the August garden.
Chinese (Napa) Cabbage
Chinese cabbage, or Napa cabbage, takes about 80 days to mature. It is extremely cold hardy but will bolt with the slightest warming of temperature. This crop will also benefit from the use of floating row cover.
One pest I have not mentioned but will be a problem in a damp fall season is the slug. Floating row cover will not help with slugs, who seem to love the cabbages. To remedy, be sure to remove all detritus from below the plants. In excessively wet years, I use an organic product called Sluggo.
Napa cabbage is one of my absolute favorite cabbages for ferments, but its sweet large leaves are also great for wraps of all kinds.
Selling spring seedlings revealed to me that many people have a negative vibe about collards. I don’t get it! This not too distant cousin of kale and cabbage is tasty, especially so in the fall after the first frost!
Collards are actually a cabbage that does not fold into a head. It’s like having access to cabbage one beautiful tasty leaf at a time. Collards are great when traditionally prepared in a braise with bacon and finished with balsamic. Equally delicious, collards make the perfect green smoothie!
Let’s learn from The Almanac Gardener about growing collards for a fall garden.
You want to plant kale in August to ensure a reliable harvest through fall and winter. The remarkable thing about kale is you can harvest it when frozen. Let it rest on the kitchen counter to thaw while pulling your smoothie ingredients together, and it will be ready to process.
Here’s a nifty green smoothie template from Healthitarian to help us use up all this luscious kale!
Mustard greens are a spicy leafy vegetable that can be enjoyed fresh or cooked. They should be harvested young for the best flavor and texture. In the spring, when rising temperatures trigger their bolt, you can decorate your meals with their spicy yellow blossoms.
The first harvest will come in about 6 weeks. The plants are generous and will continue to grow to harvest throughout the fall
There are mustard green seed mixes, which I recommend. Again, they are perfectly used fresh in salads or cooked in stir-fries and soups.
Root vegetables have a high glycemic value. They have a high concentration of sugar that is enhanced when they are exposed to cold temperatures and frosts.
This is why modern low-carb diets ask us to eliminate root vegetables.
I recommend moderation in such choices. Root vegetables have nutrients and probiotics essential for optimal health and digestion. So, maybe we don’t enjoy them every day in every meal. Rather, have them occasionally, and celebrate them as the centerpiece of your meal!
Is there a better vegetable in the kitchen garden than beets? I do not think so!
Beet greens are beautiful, flavorful and nutritious. Prepare them as you would Swiss Chard.
Beetroot is tasty and versatile. My favorite way to prepare them in roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. When plating up, add a portion of goat cheese. This combination is perfect for topping a large tossed salad.
Did you know that a single beet seed is actually a cluster of 3-5 embryos? Yup, it’s true! That’s why the beet bed seems to need endless thinning. Remedy this bit of extra work in the kitchen garden by planting sparsely.
Carrots are candy when harvested after the first frost. Of all the root vegetables, they have the highest glycemic value. I believe the best way to enjoy carrots from the fall and winter garden is roasted.
Planting carrots in August is a challenge. They have a very long germination period of up to 2 weeks. This creates conditions for 2 extreme threats to your carrot crop: drying out and excessive weeds. You must water your carrots daily for the first 2 weeks for successful germination. After the first week, you’ll need to keep an eye on weeds in a way that does not harm the germinating seeds. I add vermiculite to my rows and sow the seeds directly into the vermiculite, then cover lightly with soil.
This farmer explains the problems and solutions perfectly!
Potatoes are not a traditional crop to plant in August for a fall harvest. Learning how to correctly plant potatoes in August will give you a potato crop that will store nicely in a basement or root cellar throughout the winter months.
Potatoes must be planted about 110 days before your first frost date. So, I need to get them in the first week in August. Again, this can be tricky if my soil temperatures are too high. Once planted, they need regular watering. The best potato harvests come on wet years.
Radishes grow quickly and love cool weather. Plan to plant your radishes at the end of August. Radishes will germinate and emerge with cotyledons (first leaves) within a week of planting. Depending on the variety, harvests will come 22 to 70 days later.
Fall radish crops are fun because the cooling temperatures allow larger varieties to grow to maturity without the threat of bolting (blossoming into seeds). Explore these heirloom varieties from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange to plan your August garden.
Turnips are another perfect vegetable to plant in August for a fall and winter harvest!
Like beets, their tops are as flavorful as the root of the vegetable. they are fairly easy to grow and do not need a lot of nitrogen in the soil to flourish.
Let’s see what the Rusted Gardener has to say about planting and growing turnips!
By the time August rolls around, we are ready for salad greens! After 6 weeks or more of all the nightshades, our digestive system and flavor cravings are set toward cool leafy greens.
In early August, plant a heat tolerant lettuce mix. By late August, switch to a cold weather lettuce variety. This is also when you will plant your arugula.
Romaine is a particularly good lettuce to plant in August because it manages the change in temperature very well. For a 2-person household like ours, we prefer the baby romaine varieties. The traditional large heads are just too much food for Bob and me.
Plan on planting small lettuce beds every 2 weeks in August and September. This will give you fresh lettuce mixes and heads through the first hard frost.
Many of the cooking greens to be planted in August are listed with the brassicas. Kale, collards, and mustards all make perfect additions to the August garden.
Spinach and chard are also excellent additions to your August garden rotation.
If you plant one crop in August hoping for fall and winter harvests, let it be spinach!
Spinach grows in winter months and needs very little to no support or protection. Spinach planted in late August in my garden continues to flourish through May when rising temperatures cause it to bolt.
I call spinach a cooking green in the fall and winter garden because the colder temperatures toughen up the greens. Many of my customers still use it in salads. This is just my preference.
Like kale, you can harvest spinach when the leaves are frozen. It’s a miracle!
I have had the best results for winter spinach with Johnny’s Seed’s Corvair variety. Give it a try!
Swiss Chard is moderately cold hardy and will definitely need a couple of layers of floating row cover if you want to extend the season. Plant it in August for easy and flavorful harvests through October.
Alliums | Onions
The onion family is always partying in my garden! Not only do I cook with them constantly, but they are also great for repelling insects in a struggling bed, and really don’t need a whole lot of attention. Here’s how to plant Allium in August for fall and winter harvests…
Leeks can be started from seed in the winter garden. They are extremely cold hardy and can survive in temperatures as low as -10 F. I plant my leeks think and simply harvest to thin throughout the fall and winter. They bring an earthy sweetness to winter meals like no other!
Leeks are one of those vegetables we can enjoy in the kitchen garden year round. They are one of the first to go in in late winter, get a second planting in June, and this final succession in August.
Scallions, also called bunching onions, are not quite so cold hardy as leeks but still deserve a place in the August garden. Plant in thick rows that can be harvested one handful at a time as needed. Use the entire plant both fresh and cooked.
You can purchase onion sets, those little bulb onions, and plant them in August for harvest next June. Yes, they overwinter and actually go dormant in the darkest winter months. As day length and soil temperature rise, the bulbs awaken and grow to maturity earlier than spring-planted onions. It’s a great way to use open space in the kitchen garden after late summer harvest.
Renew a burnt-out herb garden with cool weather herbs. Having these tasty and nutritious ingredients available for fall and winter meals in one of the best parts of maintaining a kitchen garden.
Chives are a member of the Allium family mentioned above used for their leaves and blossoms. We grow them in the herb garden. They are perennial and need to be planted in a place you want them to return to, year after year.
I have chives in my oldest herb garden that are ten years old. They have created a beautiful ground cover around and between raised garden beds.
This soft-stemmed, leafy herb is referred to as cilantro when we are using the green leafy parts, and coriander when we use the seeds. The botanical name for the plant is Coriandrum sativum. It is also commonly referred to as Chinese Parsley.
No one is neutral about cilantro. It’s a love it or hate it kind of herb!
If you love it, grow plenty. Then, preserve it in a pesto for uses in summer when temperatures are too high for the plant to thrive.
Dill is beautiful, aromatic, flavorful and a nutrition powerhouse! It only takes 70 days to come to maturity, so succession planting every 2 weeks in August and September will give you a nice steady harvest. Remember to save your dill seeds for culinary purposes as well. They are great added to vinegar pickles and ferments!
Parsley is another cold hardy herb to plant in the August garden. It is perfect fresh in summer salads and cooked in winter stews. It’s an essential part of the seasonal kitchen!
Legumes | Peas and Beans
Planting beans and peas in the August garden will not only give you tasty ingredients for fall and winter meals. They also work to replenish soils depleted by summer harvests. Legumes are nitrogen fixers and work to restore vital nutrients to soils that supported heavy feeders like tomatoes, corn, and leafy greens.
Bush beans are not cold hardy, so you will need to plant them to ensure harvest before the first frost. Plan your succession for harvest 10-12 weeks prior to your first frost. For me, this means an early August planting. Bush beans are one of the first vegetables I plant in the August garden.
Fava beans, also called broad beans, can be planted in the fall for a spring harvest. This makes them serve the dual purpose of vegetable crop and cover crop. Planting favas in August, or September will nourish the soil, diminish weeds, and provide a tasty crop for early spring.
Peas serve the same dual purpose as fava beans when planted in August. They’ll overwinter and produce an early crop the following spring. All the while they will nourish the soil and suppress weeds.
August is a great time to plan and plant cover crops in your garden beds. Any beds that will not be planted with vegetables for fall and winter should be supported with a green mulch, often called a cover crop.
Cover crops can serve many purposes. They can nourish the soil as nitrogen fixers, add organic matter to beds with their root matter, or break up compacted soil. My favorite cover crop to plant in August is crimson clover. It is a beautiful nitrogen fixer that feeds the bees. Click here to learn more.
DIY Potting Soil Mix | Easy Recipe
Check out this post on making your own potting mix. I use the large batch recipe to replenish my raised beds every year!
There’s a lot to consider when planning the August Garden
No matter the size of your kitchen garden, there’s a lot to consider when planning what to plant in August. Because August is a transition month, we’re needing to think about current crops as well as what we want to happen in the fall and winter.
If you are or want to be a 4-season gardener, then there are crops to plant and infrastructure to build.
If you want your garden to rest in the fall and winter, then there are mulches and cover crops to consider.
Be sure to make a plan for your August garden! It is a month that can impact your garden’s health and productivity for months and years to come. Check out my Kitchen Garden Planner and Journal to get you started!
Garden Tasks by Month
Click the hotlinks below to be taken to month specific garden tips from Lorrie Season.
January | February | March | April | May | June
August is National Peach Month
Nothing says summer like a perfectly ripe peach. That must be why we call August National Peach Month! Click here to learn all about peaches, including recipes and nutritional facts.
Happy National Peach Month!
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