What to grow in August 2017

In warm and some temperate climate zones, where days are warm but nights are still chilly, gardeners can get an early start on spring-summer vegetables and herbs by sowing seed in containers in a cold frame. Instructions for an easy to construct cold frame can be found here: A simple cold frame

Gardeners in cooler climate zones gardeners can start celery, leek and lettuce in a cold frame, but do not plant celery out until soil temperature has reached 13° C., or celery will run to seed quickly.
The following gardening advice is an abbreviated list for vegetables, fruit trees and some culinary herbs that can be planted in August in Australia and New Zealand. A comprehensive monthly guide that includes planting times for the entire garden, as well as when to fertilise, prune, weed, take cuttings or divide plants, can be found in my book Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting (Scribe Publications, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2017 with moon planting 2017–2022) – now also available as an e-book.

* For gardeners who do not use moon planting: sow or plant out any of the following list at any time this month, although you may find germination rates are lower when the Moon is in Last Quarter phase..

WARM CLIMATE South of Rockhampton
Before the Full Moon, cabbage, open-headed Chinese cabbage, grain crops, lettuce, mizuna, silver beet, spring onions, tatsoi and dill can be sown or planted out, and rocket and a green manure crop of wheat can be sown directly into beds. Sow chickpea, nasturtium, and sunflower when soil feels warm to touch.
During First Quarter phase, bush and climbing beans, and rosella can be sown. Capsicum, cucumber, eggplant, rockmelon, summer squash, tomato, watermelon and zucchini can be sown in a cold frame or warm, protected area.
During Full Moon phase, carrot, Jerusalem artichoke, potato (Brisbane and areas south), and radish can be sown directly into beds. Asparagus seed, beetroot, rosemary, thyme and watercress can be sown or planted out. Avocado, citrus, macadamia and potted grapes can be planted.

WARM CLIMATE Rockhampton and northwards
Gardeners in very warm areas have time to sow late crops of many varieties.
Before the Full Moon, cabbage, lettuce, parsley, and spring onions can be sown or planted out. Grain crops, NZ spinach, silver beet and sunflower can be sown directly into beds, as well as a green manure crop of wheat or lablab.
During First Quarter phase, capsicum, cucumber, eggplant, parsley, rockmelon, rosella, summer squash, sweet corn, tomato, watermelon and zucchini can be sown or planted out. Bush and climbing beans and sweet corn can be sown directly into beds.
During Full Moon phase, carrot, radish and sweet potato can be sown direct. Avocado, banana, banana passionfruit, citrus and passionfruit can be planted.

TEMPERATE CLIMATE
Sowing and planting this month will depend on whether your area is prone to frosts. Gardeners in Temperate areas with access to a cold frame can get an early start this month with some warmth-loving varieties.
Before the Full Moon, grain crops and mizuna can be sown directly into beds, as well as a green manure crop of clover, field pea, barley, or wheat. Dwarf peas and chamomile can be sown directly into beds in colder areas. Celery, leek and lettuce can be sown in a cold frame.
In frost-free areas, Chinese cabbage, rocket, silver beet, spring onions, tatsoi and coriander can also be sown directly into beds.
During First Quarter phase, capsicum, cucumber, leek and tomato can be sown in a cold frame.
During Full Moon phase, Jerusalem artichoke and potato can be sown directly into beds; also carrot in frost-free areas. Asparagus seed and beetroot can be sown in a cold frame. In frost-free areas, rosemary, thyme, avocado, and potted grapes can be planted.

COOL CLIMATE
August is still too cold and frosty for most plantings.
Before the Full Moon, English spinach can be sown directly into beds, as well as a green manure crop of broad bean (Faba bean) or field pea. Celery, leek and lettuce can be sown in a cold frame.
During First Quarter phase, dwarf peas can be sown directly into beds. Tomatoes and chamomile can be sown in a cold frame. In very cold areas, broad beans can be sown. (See post on when to sow Broad beans and peas for your local climate.)
During Full Moon phase, Jerusalem artichoke and potato can be sown directly into beds, and late season onions can be sown or planted out. Asparagus seed can be sown in a cold frame. Herbaceous perennial crowns can be planted. In very cold areas, deciduous trees, shrubs and vines can be planted.

A simple cold frame

A cold frame will get your seedlings off to a flying start in spring. Cold frames don’t have to be complicated structures or require carpentry expertise. We make ours from some old bricks and windows, and a small quantity of watered-down white or cream house paint. Materials for this type of cold frame can be found at the local tip or building recycling centre. If you don’t have any left over paint, a small sample pot from the hardware store will provide enough paint for this job. Dilute the paint until it provides a slightly opaque coating to the glass. Some hessian bags, an old blanket, or a large piece of shade cloth or weed mat can be used as a cover at night to prevent warmth escaping.
The size of the cold frame is determined by the size of the window. If we only have a small quantity of seedlings that require warmth, we build it to suit one window frame. Three layers of bricks provide ample room for most seedlings. The cold frame will have to be set up in a warm spot to be effective. Close to a north-facing wall is best. The bricks in the cold frame will absorb and store heat during the day and release it slowly at night, keeping the seeds and seedlings warm. However, the cold frame can lose warmth through the glass at night, if it is not covered. Place hessian bags a folded blanket, or crumple shade cloth or weed mat on the glass panels in the late afternoon, and remove them mid morning when air is warmer.
Once seeds have germinated, prop the front of the lid open slightly with a half brick or something similar during the day to allow adequate ventilation.
This type of cold frame is easy to construct and to dismantle when the weather warms. The bricks and window panels can be stacked behind a shed or in an unobtrusive corner.

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Plastic PET bottles

It’s a shame to throw empty plastic soft drink and soda water bottles into the recycling bin because they have a number of uses in the garden. If you cut the base from each bottle, you have an instant miniature green house. Cucumber, pumpkin, rockmelon, watermelon, zucchini and Brassica (cabbage family) seeds are particularly attractive to mice, and plastic bottles can be used to protect them in pots and garden beds. Once the seeds germinate, the bottle lid can be removed to provide ventilation for the growing seedling until it is strong enough to survive without protection. This will also protect them from birds that enjoy newly sprouted seeds. The green houses will also provide humidity for tip cuttings, and protect sensitive seedlings from cold.
Turned upside down, with the bottle neck buried in garden soil, plastic bottles can be used to apply water, through mulch, directly to the root area around shrubs and trees during water restrictions. Propped at a slight angle and filled with water, a couple of plastic bottles can be used to slowly release water to plants in large pots while you are on holiday, provided the plants are watered thoroughly before you leave.
I use a plastic bottle, cut in half, as a funnel for pouring liquid fertilisers into a watering can. If the fertiliser requires straining, I put a length of old panty hose into the bottle as demonstrated in the photo.
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