My August Chores

Ilona Erwin

August always seems to come unexpectedly fast and move on even faster. It is all psychological, of course, but the end of summer is in sight and there is plenty to do. No more of the “lazy days of summer” feelings of July. This has been such a cool and wet summer overall, although we did get a bit of summer heat- enough to let the tomatoes set fruit. Now we just need those tomatoes to turn red!

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.
-Dwight David Eisenhower

Plan bulb purchasesOrder bulbs
Purchase Madonna lilies
Supplies of bulb fertilizer or bonemeal
Plan fall vegetable gardenPlant seeds for fall radish, lettuce, greens,broccoli and root vegetables.Sharpen hoes.
Get quality pruner if you don’t have one
Daily “weed walks” around the garden, or as often as possibleCompost weeds, destroy diseased plants. Apply biological controls for pests.compost bin, compost pail is most handy.

leadwort I am sending out the newsletter and hope you will consider signing up. it is a new experiemnt in sharing news of the garden and my sites.

One of the plants that lends a rare blue to the August garden is Leadwort,Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, which is pictured on the left, here. It is something of a groundcover plant and has a very long bloom period.

August Zone 5 Gardening

Perennial Flowers

The mentioned Leadwort or Plumbago, and a whole slew of Prairie flowers come into their own in August. This is when gold flowers reign, with Black-eyed Susans, Heliopsis, Sunflowers of all kinds, and goldenrods.

It is time to divide the German Iris, to plant or transplant Madonna lilies and peonies. The end of fertilizing many shrubs and plantings to give time to go into dormancy.

Cut back overgrown or floppy plants.

 Wikimedia Commons image

Wikimedia Commons image

Some of my plants have turned chlorotic, showing yellow with green lines. Time to haul out the Ironrite and dose them with it.

Chlorosis is a plant condition where there is insufficient chlorophyll produced.
Some causes:

  • mineral deficiency in the soil, such as iron or magnesium (thus the Ironrite)
  • deficient nitrogen
  • soil pH which interferes with minerals absorption by the plant roots
  • poor drainage which makes roots waterlogged
  • damaged or compacted roots

I usually see it show up after over abundance of rain, but soil amendment of iron seems to remedy it.

Annual Flowers

Time to shear back, if you haven’t already. Keep deadheading to prevent seed set, or allow to go to seed for collecting next years seeds.

It is time to plant the fast growing annuals that will give a quick show, like Candytuft. Those are a showy low stature plant that have a circle of petals in pink, mauve, and lavender.

August Sights

Ohio Garden Flowers In August


August Garden Delights:

The harvest is always the main delight of this month. Pepper and tomatoes should all be picked, eaten, or preserved. Or have a mass giveaway! Friends and neighbors will love it.

Did you know some leaves are fragrant? I have Bayberry shrubs and a Scotch rose which both have very fragrant leaves. August lilies are some of the most fragrant flowers of the garden, they perfume an entire area.

General August Maintenance

Plant late vegetable garden crops.

Be on the watch for garden pests. Hand pick the obvious ones like tomato hornworms.

I use trap bags for Japanese beetles- located further out from my gardens. Find out more about how to manage Japanese Beetles from this helpful government info PDF

Cut off branches infested with webworms and burn them. If you live in the city and can’t burn, tie them up tight in a garbage bag. You can spray with Neem, but that also kills other insects that you might not intend to harm.

Add soil amendments now.

Phlox growing wild in the park

Phlox growing wild in the park

My August Garden chores

Weeding Is Number One

This year has been quite different with cooler temperatures and rainfall that is more reminiscent of June than of our usual dry and hot Augusts. Almost everyday has been overcast in late July. But that makes for excellent weeding weather and after rains weeds are far easier to pull up. Which is much better than spraying with herbicides which poison the earth and get washed down into the ground with rains.

More gardening tips of a veggie guide from University of Illinois Extension. Useful for Zone 5 gardeners like me.


Vegetable Garden Tips
Tomatoes are a little late is ripening this year, but if the fruits are large enough and starting to turn color, you can hurry them up by picking and setting in a sunny kitchen window. Fertilize weekly.

When planting your beds consider something other than rows. Planting in triangles will fit 10 to 14 percent more plants in a raised bed or in your vegetable patch.

Use green manure for building up your soils.

carrots, onions, and radishes | leaf lettuce, peas, and brassicas
Which are similar in idea to the well known “three sisters“.

Choose fast-maturing varieties of your favorite crops for fall harvests. Mulch new seedlings with a bit of compost to conserve moisture and keep soil warmer longer.


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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.