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Summer Gardening: August Garden Checklist Zones 1-3

Gardeners in Zones 1-3 have had a good run and are reaching the end of their growing season in the August garden. Due to an undependable growing season and unpredictable frosts, gardeners in Zones 1-3 do best with early-maturing, cool-season vegetable varieties and the implementation of season-extending methods to protect crops.

There is significant variability across Zones 1-3, so it is pertinent to check with your local extension office for advice on what to plant and when for your county.  Bring your garden journal along when you visit your local extension office and add any information that you gain from the experts in your region. This will help you as you plan your gardens from year to year.

Here are some tips from our August Garden Checklist Zones 1-3 that will help guide you on what you should be doing in the gardens this August.

Hand taking notes by flower garden

Planning Your August Garden

Regularly walk your landscape and assess your gardens this month and jot down pertinent information about disease, weather, rainfall & humidity, pests, successes, growing failures, and garden goals.

Here are some highlights of what you should be thinking about on the August Garden Checklist Zones 1-3.

  • Continue monitoring the weather for sudden dips in temperature and protect your crops from frost as necessary.
  • Assess your supplies of season-extending protection materials and make a list of anything you still need. Greenhouses, cold frames, frost covers, hoop houses, and row covers are game-changers for Zones 1-3.
  • Jot down the daily temperature and rainfall amounts in your August garden journal.
  • Make notes of what plant varieties performed well and what didn’t produce well. This will help you determine what you want to grow again next year.
  • Work diligently to preserve your crops with canning methods, freezing, and the use of great recipes. It will be a long hard winter, and eating food from your garden will keep your spirits high.
  • If you plan to travel during August, consider asking a friend or neighbor to help you water your garden. Reward them with your harvest while you are gone.
  • Monitor your gardens for pests and disease and jot those areas down in your garden journal so you can avoid planting the same plant varieties in those locations next year.
  • Think about collecting seeds for next year’s gardens! Purchase some seed collecting envelopes, labels, and seed storage containers so you can harvest seeds from your best-performing plants.
  • It’s time to start scouring the pages of seed catalogs for bulbs to plant in fall that will flower come spring. Place your orders early for the best selection.
  • Continue to search for recipes and ways to use and prepare the fruits of your harvest. Ask friends and neighbors for tried and true favorites.
  • Take some snapshots of your gardens and stick them in your garden journal so you can have a visual catalog of your garden’s progress. It is fun to look back on, will help you as you plan next year’s gardens, and will keep you motivated during the cold winter days.
  • Continue to get out and walk around your neighborhood or town and keep an eye out for some plants, trees, and shrubs that catch your eye and seem to be thriving where you live. Take pictures or ask around and add those to your wishlist for next year.

Sumer Garden Maintenance in Zones 1-3

As gardeners in Zones 1-3 are rounding out their short growing season, some maintenance tasks for your August garden can help keep your gardens in tip-top shape so you can continue to enjoy your gardens and have a stronger start for next year.

Weed Gardens Regularly

Continue to weed your gardens regularly. The more often you evict those weeds, the less likely they will have the opportunity to go to seed and further propagate. Just think, the effort you put in now might mean fewer weeds in your garden next growing season!

Small zucchini plant

When to Mulch in Zones 1-3

Mulching the garden is essential in Zones 1-3. Sudden shifts in temperature can be regulated on the ground with the insulation of organic mulches. Mulch continues to help regulate soil temperature, cool plant roots, insulate plant roots from cold temps, retain moisture, deter weeds, and protect the soil from erosion. Keep some mulch close at hand in case a bare spot opens up in your garden.

What to Prune in the Summer Garden

  • For those able to grow squash or tomatoes, any new fruits that form will likely only steal energy from the plant because they won’t have time to ripen fully. Cull these small fruits or female flowers so the plant can put its energy into growing and ripening already established fruits.
  • Pinch off the flowers of coleus plants to encourage a fuller plant with more beautiful foliage.
  • Deadhead flowering annuals and perennials, collecting seeds from the best plants.
  • Trim back herbs or pinch off flowering tips to prevent the plant from going to seed and to prolong your harvest.
  • Prune tomato plant suckers.
  • Prune squash plants if their foliage is overlapping other plants.
  • Pruning of shrubs should stop at this point of the season unless it is to prune away dead or damaged limbs. Pruning traditionally pushes new growth, which can be susceptible to upcoming frosts and harsh winters

Other Summer Garden To-Dos

  • If you plan to overwinter any plants, bring them indoors this month.
  • Collect seeds for your highest performing plants and preserve them for next year.
  • Deadhead perennial flower heads.
  • Remove spent annual plants. Continue to deadhead annuals that are still thriving.
  • Stop fertilizing shrubs and perennials. New growth will be susceptible to frosts and frigid temperatures.
  • Amend gardens with compost. Your soil has worked hard this growing season, so bolster it now with rich organic matter to prepare it for next season.

The Best Way to Water a Garden

Plant root systems are well developed by now, so long, deep watering sessions are paramount for your vegetable gardens, hanging baskets, perennial gardens, and fruit trees success. This means they need more of a drink so that the water can reach their root systems.

Give your plants a pick-me-up with a thorough watering and allow the soil to dry between waterings. Container plants and hanging baskets may require daily watering because the heat can dry them out quickly.

As always, if there is a water usage restriction in your area, please abide by those regulations.

Woman harvesting plants from the garden

August Indoor & Outdoor Planting

For the most part, the planting has been done in Zones 1-3, and you are likely harvesting your vegetable garden or harvesting your fruit garden. If protected, you can plant transplants of quick-producing cool-season crops like lettuces, radishes, spinach, etc.

Just a reminder, the shorter growing season and low soil temperatures limit vegetable growing capabilities in Zones 1-3. Adding row covers, hoop houses, greenhouses, and cold frames can help extend the growing season and keep the soil warmer. Planting vegetables that mature quickly can also help to combat early frosts.

Summer Garden Harvests in Zones 1-3

Zone 1 Can Harvest:

  • Apples
  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Chives
  • Chokecherries
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Peas
  • Thyme

Zone 2 Can Harvest:

  • Apples
  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Chives
  • Chokecherries
  • Hyssop
  • Juniper
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard greens
  • Onions
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Parsnips
  • Plums
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Peas
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes

Zone 3 Can Harvest:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Asparagus
  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Chives
  • Chokecherries
  • Cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Hyssop
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard greens
  • Onions
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Snap Peas
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash
  • Swiss chard
  • Thyme
  • Tomatoes
  • Winter squash

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