Best August Veg: Plant Now for Autumn Harvest

August might feel like the tail-end of summer, but don’t hang up your gardening gloves just yet! There’s a surprising array of veggies you can plant now for a bountiful autumn harvest.

Think it’s too late to sow? Think again! The cooler days ahead are perfect for certain crops that thrive in the mild transition from summer to autumn. Let’s dive into the veggies that’ll make your garden the envy of the neighbourhood.

Best Vegetables to Plant in August

As you’re contemplating what to sow in August, remember it’s a fantastic window for growing a fresh batch of veggies. You’ll find that root vegetables and leafy greens often prefer the imminent dip in temperature, making this month perfect for planting.

Root for the Roots

Root vegetables like carrots, beets, and turnips are ideal to throw into the earth now. They have the unique ability to grow underground and avoid the intensity of the summer sun while utilising the cooling soil as a blanket. Get them in the ground promptly, and here’s what you’ll likely be doing:

  • Sowing carrots should be a breeze; they’ll thrive in softer soil, free of clumps, ensuring longer, straighter roots.
  • Popping in some beets can give you the joy of both delicious roots and versatile greens.
  • Don’t overlook turnips, which are rather quick to mature and can be used in a variety of hearty autumn dishes.

Lovely Leafy Greens

Leafy greens should be your go-to for a late summer sewing. Kale, spinach, and swiss chard are superheroes of the vegetable world; robust, packed with nutrients, and rather unfussy about the cooling weather. Their resilience means you’ll be harvesting them well into the cooler months. Get these in the ground:

  • Kale’s robust nature means it can withstand cooler temperatures and even a touch of frost.
  • Spinach planted now will lead to fresh, tender leaves, perfect for salads or a sauté side dish.
  • Swiss chard offers a burst of colour and versatility, adapting well to various recipes and growing conditions.

Swaying to Soft Herbs

Don’t forget about soft herbs like coriander and dill which can also fare well when planted in August. This late sowing can result in an aromatic addition to your autumn and possibly your winter dishes too with a little protection from the cold snaps.

1. Spinach

Spinach is a real trooper in the autumnal garden. As you’re eyeing your veggie patch with a mind to sow, bear in mind that spinach thrives in cooler weather. It doesn’t balk at a little frost, making it perfect for an August planting. Getting it in the ground now ensures you’ll be enjoying tender, flavourful greens throughout the chillier months.

When you’re preparing to plant your spinach, choose a spot that gets a fair bit of sunshine, though a little shade won’t do it any harm. The soil should be well-draining and rich in organic matter. If you’ve got heavy clay, mix in some compost or aged manure to lighten it up and add nutrients. Spinach loves a neutral to slightly alkaline pH, so if you’ve got particularly acidic soil, a bit of lime might be in order.

Planting depth is key: sow your spinach seeds about 1 cm deep, spacing them roughly 7 cm apart. If you’re aiming for continuous harvests, which you should be, go for successional sowing every few weeks. This tactic will keep your spinach supply steady and reduce the risk of having more than you can handle all at once.

Once they’re in, keep your spinach beds moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to mildew issues, so just make sure the soil is damp to the touch. As the seedlings sprout and grow, thin them out to about 15 cm apart to give each plant ample room to flourish.

Remember to protect your spinach from voracious garden pests. Slugs and snails fancy tender spinach leaves, so some organic pellets or sharp-edged deterrents around the bed can curb their enthusiasm. Similarly, watch out for leaf miners and caterpillars, which you’ll often outwit simply by keeping a vigilant eye and removing them by hand.

Soon enough, you’ll have a crop of spinach that’s versatile in the kitchen. It’s great sautéed, in salads, or as a robust addition to soups and stews. Spinach’s nutritional profile is a bonus, loaded with vitamins and minerals to boost your autumn and winter meals.

2. Lettuce

When it’s time to fill your garden with autumn crops, lettuce should definitely make your list. August is a prime month for sowing lettuce seeds as you’ll be able to enjoy fresh salads well into the cooler months. You’ve got a plethora of varieties to choose from, ranging from crisp romaine to tender butterhead.

Getting started is straightforward. You’ll want loose, fertile soil prepped and ready. If you’ve been gardening for a while, you’ll know lettuce is a bit of a delicate soul, preferring cooler temps and a bit of shade to shield it from the late summer sun. It’s your best bet to find a spot in the garden that gets morning sun and afternoon shade.

Let’s talk watering. Lettuce roots are shallow, which means they’ll need consistent moisture to thrive without getting waterlogged. A good rule of thumb is to water often but not deeply. A mulch layer can be a lifesaver here, keeping the soil moist and cool.

Here’s how you go about sowing:

  • Sprinkle seeds evenly across the soil.
  • Cover them with a thin layer of soil; they need light to germinate.
  • Space rows about 30 cm apart to give each plant room to grow.

You might want to opt for successional sowing—planting a few seeds every couple of weeks. This way, you’ll have a continuous supply and not a lettuce overload all at once. Remember, it’s also vital to keep an eye out for slugs and aphids, your unwelcome garden guests. They have a notorious appetite for young lettuce leaves.

Among the fun parts of growing lettuce is choosing which varieties to grow. You could try:

  • ‘Little Gem’ – A sweet, crunchy romaine type that grows quickly.
  • ‘Winter Density’ – As the name implies, it stands up to colder weather like a champ.
  • ‘Lollo Rossa’ – Adds a splash of colour with its frilly red leaves.

Pair these with your autumn spinach, and you’re set for salads that’ll pep up even the dreariest of winter days.

3. Radishes

Radishes are exceptionally fast-growing vegetables making them a perfect choice for your autumn garden. Planted in August, radishes can be ready to harvest in as little as four weeks. They’re an excellent option if you’re looking to maximise your garden’s yield before the cooler months set in.

To get the best out of your radish crop, you’ll want to plant them in soil that’s been well-drained and loosened. Add a bit of organic compost to the mix; this will provide the nutrients these peppery roots crave. You should also ensure your radishes receive ample sunlight, though they can tolerate partial shade.

Radishes require minimal space. Sow the seeds about one inch apart and half an inch deep in rows that are 15 centimetres apart. This ensures they have enough room to expand underground. Additionally, radishes do not compete well with weeds, so keep your plot clear to prevent them from being overcrowded and stunted in growth.

For a continuous harvest, practise successional planting by sowing radish seeds every week or two. This way, you’ll have fresh radishes to pick throughout autumn. Remember, these crisp roots need consistent moisture to develop properly, so water them regularly.

Here’s a quick run-down of some popular radish varieties to try:

  • ‘French Breakfast’: A classic variety with a mild flavour
  • ‘Cherry Belle’: Known for its vibrant red hue and round shape
  • ‘Daikon’: These longer white radishes offer a crisp texture and are often used in Asian cuisine

Pair radishes with other autumn crops like lettuce and kale for a regular supply of fresh veggies. Their distinctive bite adds a welcome zing in salads and is brilliant for adding crunch to your autumn soups and stews. Just pull them up before the ground freezes, and you’re set for a seasonal treat.

4. Carrots

Continuing your journey through autumn gardening, let’s delve into the vibrant world of carrots. These root vegetables are famous for their adaptability and the burst of colour they add to meals. What’s more, planting carrots in August sets them up perfectly for an autumn to early winter harvest.

When you’re choosing carrot seeds, you’ve got a multitude of types to pick from. However, for your late-season garden, seek out varieties known for their cold tolerance. Varieties like ‘Autumn King’ and ‘Nantes’ are renowned for their ability to thrive in cooler temperatures and still deliver crisp, sweet roots.

Any seasoned gardener knows carrots demand a little more attention when it comes to soil conditions. They prosper in deep, well-draining, and stone-free soil that allows for unimpeded growth. So you’ll need to ensure your soil is finely tilled and free from debris that could lead to misshapen carrots. Adding in a balanced fertiliser before planting will give your carrots the nutrition they need without excess nitrogen, which can lead to oversized tops and small roots.

Sowing your carrot seeds is straightforward but requires some finesse:

  • Make shallow drills about 1cm deep.
  • Sow the seeds sparingly along the drills.
  • Cover gently with soil and water well.

Remember, carrot seeds can take a couple of weeks to germinate, so don’t worry if you don’t see sprouts immediately. Thinning out the seedlings once they’ve grown a few centimetres high will ensure there’s enough space for the carrots to develop properly. Aim to leave about 5cm between each plant.

With a bit of patience and care, you’ll see that your efforts pay off as the green tops start to flourish above the soil. Before you know it, you’ll be crunching into one of the freshest, most satisfying snacks straight from your garden. And let’s not forget, intercropping carrots with onions can help deter carrot fly, keeping your harvest healthy and bountiful.

Pairing carrots with radishes in your planting scheme allows you to make full use of your space. Since radishes grow so quickly, you can harvest them before the carrots need the extra room to expand. This staggered planting approach maximises your yield and keeps your kitchen stocked with fresh produce for longer.

5. Broccoli

Broccoli is a powerhouse of nutrients and planting it in August ensures you reap the health benefits come autumn. This brassica thrives in cooler temperatures, making late summer an ideal time for sowing. You’ve got the chance to grow a crop that’s not just tasty but also loaded with vitamins and minerals.

Begin by selecting a calabrese variety, which is well-suited for an autumn harvest. Broccoli likes fertile, well-drained soil, so prep yours by incorporating organic matter like compost. You’ll need to sow the seeds in a seedbed or pots and transplant them later. It’s crucial to leave about 30cm between plants to give them room to flourish.

Broccoli requires consistent moisture, so don’t let the soil dry out. Mulching around your plants helps retain moisture and suppress weeds. As the plants grow, they might need some support; staking can prevent wind damage. Netting might also be essential to protect your crop from birds and the infamous caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly.

For a continuous supply, consider planting a few seeds at weekly intervals. This method, known as succession planting, stretches out your harvest period and maximises the use of your space. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for pests like aphids and caterpillars. A regular check and an organic pest control regimen can save your broccoli from damage.

Remember, broccoli plants can take a fair bit of space, so plan your plot accordingly. You don’t want to overcrowd your garden and limit the growth of your crops. With proper care, you’ll be enjoying fresh, homegrown broccoli that’s superior in flavour and nutrition to any you’d buy at the supermarket. And when you’re ready to harvest, cut the heads while they’re firm and before the yellow flowers start to appear, for the best taste and texture.

6. Cauliflower

Just as with broccoli, cauliflower is another fantastic option for your August planting. Not only does it add variety to your autumn harvest, but it also introduces a bevvy of essential nutrients into your diet. When you’re selecting seeds, consider varieties like ‘Autumn Giant’ or ‘Snowball’ that are specifically bred to thrive in the cooler temperatures approaching.

Cauliflower requires a bit more attention than some other vegetables, but your efforts will certainly pay off. First and foremost, soil preparation is key. Cauliflower loves nutrient-rich, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter worked in to support its growth. Your soil’s pH should be slightly alkaline, around 6.5 to 7.5, so do check and amend accordingly before planting.

When sowing, space the seeds about 30 centimetres apart, and once your seedlings establish themselves, thin them out to give each plant enough room to mature. Remember, these plants grow fairly large, so you’ll be thankful for the forward-thinking when they’re ready to harvest.

Keeping the soil consistently moist is critical for cauliflower heads to develop properly, so invest in a good mulching regime to help retain soil moisture. Mulch can also keep the weeds at bay, which is a double win for you!

Pests can be a real bother, particularly the cabbage root fly and caterpillars, but fear not—protective netting and collars around the stems of seedlings can help keep them at bay. Regular checks for pests and diseases will keep your cauliflower plants in tip-top shape.

Lastly, blanching is a process you might want to consider. Once the head starts to form, tie the outer leaves over the curd to protect it from the sun and maintain that desirable white colour. This step can be fiddly but it’s not essential unless you’re aiming for show-worthy veggies!

You’re not only growing food when you plant cauliflower, you’re creating a piece of the autumnal mosaic in your vegetable patch that’s as nutritious as it is visually appealing.

7. Cabbage

When you’re planning your August garden, don’t overlook the humble cabbage; it’s resilient, versatile, and nutrient-rich. Leafing through seed catalogues, you’ll find that cabbages come in a variety of shapes and shades, from deep purples to vibrant greens. Avid gardeners often recommend cultivars like ‘Savoy King’ and ‘Golden Acre’ for a successful fall harvest.

Getting the Ground Ready

You’ll want to ensure your soil is up to scratch. Cabbage prefers well-drained soil rich in organic matter with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Before planting, it’s wise to work in some well-rotted manure or compost. You’ve already got a knack for keeping the earth fertile for your other crops; apply that green thumb to prepare a bed that’ll see your cabbages flourish.

Planting and Maintenance

Here’s what to do:

  • Sow seeds about half an inch deep
  • Space plants 12 to 24 inches apart depending on cabbage size
  • Water consistently; cabbages are thirsty plants!

Remember, your cabbages will need a good drink during dry spells—keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

Tackling Pests

One thing you’ll have to be vigilant about is pests. Cabbage white butterflies and slugs can decimate a crop if left unchecked. Netting and organic deterrents such as nematodes for slugs can be effective. Inspection and early intervention are your best bets to safeguard the fruits of your labour.

Harvesting Tips

Check your cabbages for readiness from late autumn onwards; they should feel firm when squeezed gently. Harvest before the first deep frost to ensure you don’t lose any to the cold. The satisfaction you’ll get from pulling up your own home-grown cabbage, knowing it was planted and nurtured by your hand, is unmatched.

As with the previous veggies, integrating cabbages into your garden rotation boosts the patch’s diversity—certainly not a feature to be underestimated. Cabbages can be quite the showpiece in a vegetable plot, with their large, spreading leaves creating a lush, verdant atmosphere as summer wanes into autumn.

Conclusion: Start planting your autumn garden now!

Alright, you’ve got the lowdown on the best veggies to get in the ground this August. With a mix of hearty root veg and lush greens, your garden’s set to be a cornucopia of autumnal bounty. Don’t forget about those cabbages – tough, tasty, and a treat for the eyes. Now’s the time to roll up your sleeves, prep that soil, and get those seeds nestled in. Keep an eye out for pesky critters and before you know it, you’ll be harvesting your own vibrant, home-grown feast. Happy gardening!