August planner for the fall garden
- Want to have a fall veggie garden? Mid-August to Labour Day weekend is the time to sow. It is possible to grow a wide range of leafy greens, many of which can last as long as early November is standard beds outdoors, or even as late as early December in protected frames. That is pretty remarkable, when you think about adding months to our outdoor growing season!
The key to successfully growing fall greens outdoors involves starting the seeds early enough - which means anytime now through the end of August. It is important that the plants get going while temperatures are warm. They also need to be direct seeded to beds or large pots, rather than started in small containers and transplanted. In the case of fall greens, you'll want to broadcast sow thickly, which yields productive, quick to mature, cut and come again crops. The last tip for the fall greens is to ensure nice, rich soil - similar to what we recommend for the Winter Greens. We typically add Sea Soil and or worm castings to the beds, which provide lots of available nitrogen, ideal for flourishing greens.
Big pots of greens sown in late summer, starting to develop in fall at Sage (2015)
- Looking to harvest your herbs? Mid-August is the time to harvest perennial varieties. It is important that perennials not be pruned (harvested) later in fall, as we always get a rebound of warmer weather that can stimulate new, cold sensitive growth if the plants have been cut back. Just as we recommend leaving ornamental perennials standing in fall, the same applies to herbs.
One good tip for managing herbal harvest is to know that most perennial herbs have peak flavour when in flower, while annuals such as basil are better when not in bloom. Common perennials (not just zone 3 hardy) that are just fabulous when flowers are included in the harvest include: Winter Savory, Oregano, Lemon Verbena, Thyme, and Lavender and Patchouli. Drying these herbs is simple; just cut long stems, wash, pat dry and then hang in loose bunches. Avoid drying in direct sunlight. To preserve maximum flavour, store on the stem until ready to use.
Flowering perennial herbs (regardless of zone) - such as this oregano - often have peak flavour when in flower, and flowers should be included in the harvest
Annual herbs such as this basil often taste best when harvested pre-flowering, although a good hard prune can stimulate loads of late season leafy re-growth
- Want to move some plants indoors this fall... start preparing now. Tropical and higher zone perennials often make for excellent indoor potted plants, but the transition from garden or patio to indoors goes most smoothly when plants move before night temperatures get cool. It is not quite time to actually bring these plants indoors (Labour Day weekend a good landmark), but if moving from the garden, plants will benefit from a couple of weeks of settling-in time while they adjust to life in pots.
Tropical plants - such as this Night Scented Jasmine - can be very successful houseplants, but shou ld be prepared for indoors starting now
Other little tweaks that will help plants transition to indoors happily, come fall, include:
- Pinch back the stem tips now, to stimulate lots of new growth, then repeat this in early to mid September; this sends a signal for the plants to stay actively growing rather than switch to a more sleepy fall mode.
- Top dress pots. Adding quality compost ensures potted plants are vigorous and full of vitality heading out of summer.
- Repot anything that is over grown or root bound. Just as with pruning the tops, this will stimulate the plant to stay actively growing. For houseplants (other than succulents), we use straight Sea Soil for repotting.