August was the sixth month of the year in the early Roman calendar–called Sextilis, which means sixth–until the Emperor Augustus came along and rearranged the calendar and named the month after himself.
In the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, August is the height of summer. Even though the longest days of the year are past, August is one of the hottest months of the year.
While goldenrod, wild asters and other late summer flowers are blooming on the prairies now, far northern high mountain regions are experiencing chilly nights and even frost. While the fields and woods are full of insects, some birds are nearly ready to fly south.
At the farm markets in the Northern Hemisphere this month you will find fresh and locally harvested beans, carrots, green chilies, corn, eggplant, lettuce, melons, pumpkins, purslane, sweet bell peppers, tomatoes, turnips, and zucchini.
Fresh local fruits and nuts coming to the farm market this month include: almonds, apples, late apricots, avocadoes, brambleberries, cape gooseberries, gooseberries, grapes, figs, hazelnuts, melons, mulberries, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberry guavas, strawberries, and tamarilloes.
If you are working in the garden, reliable crops for fall gardens can be planted in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in August: crops such as beets, bush beans, carrots, collards, mustard, onions, radish, spinach, and turnips.
If you are planting in the heat of August, it is important to plant when the soil is moist. Cover seed lightly with soil and use a mulch of grass clippings, straw, or paper placed over the seed beds until seed germinate. This is important particularly when the weather is both hot and dry.
Other vegetables for temperate regions started in August that are not as reliable but worth attempting are: potatoes, rutabagas, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, endive, Swiss chard, and corn salad.
In sub-tropical and tropical regions from Southern California and South Florida south into Mexico and Central America, you can plant late potatoes, tomatoes, beans, beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts, celery, chard, cucumbers, and turnips this month.
In the northern regions of the Northern Hemisphere, the weather may be hot in August but the growing season is growing shorter. Crops that will mature in the coolness of autumn can be planted now. Sow snap beans, Chantenay carrots, Chinese cabbage, and endive. If you didn’t have any luck with spring-sown peas earlier, try them now. The cool nights of the next month should be good for them while they are still growing.
When the middle of the month comes, mound soil around stems of leek to blanch and blanch early celery by using paper tubes. To hasten onion ripening, bend over tops if they are beginning to wither. In late August, in the cooler regions sow spinach and mustard.
Planting in the Northern Hemisphere in August:
Temperate regions–Zones 7-9: Sow beans, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, eggplant, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, spring onions, parsnip, peas, potato tubers, radish, rhubarb crowns, rutabaga, salsify, shallots, spinach , Swiss chard, and turnips.
Cooler northern regions–Zones 3-6: Sow broad beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, chicory, cress, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, spring onions, parsnip, radish, rhubarb crowns, rutabaga, salsify, shallots, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips.
Tropical and sub-tropical southern regions–Zones 10-12: Plant artichoke suckers, beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cape gooseberry, capsicum, carrots, celery, Chinese cabbage, cress, cucumber, eggplant, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, okra, onions, spring onions, parsnip, potato tubers, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb crown, rutabaga, sweet corn, sweet potato, Swiss chard, tomato, turnip, and zucchini.