Triple Crown Blackberry August

Clear some space in the freezer and pantry. Get cozy with your neighbors that like zucchini because–it’s harvest time!

During the frenzy of summer harvesting, be sure to remember to plan for fall plantings. If you’re ready to be done, prepare for winter by flinging some cover crops in cleared beds.

What ripens in August:

  • Nightshade family should start producing
    • Tomatoes
    • Eggplants
    • Peppers
  • Cucurbits appreciate a late season fertilizer to keep producing those energy and nutrient expensive fruits.
    • Cucumbers
    • Zucchini
    • Squashes
    • Melons
  • Beans

Blackberries: I can’t seem to pick and eat these fast enough. Tray freezing is a good method for preserving this nutrient-rich crop for use in smoothies, pie, cobblers and other baked goods. I made a blackberry reduction sauce and drizzled over fresh caught salmon once…

Apples after picking chill them as soon as possible to prolong their storage life. They release ethylene gas as they ripen, causing other fruits to ripen too. Chilling them slows this process down dramatically. Eat damaged apples and select only undamaged apples for storage. If you can’t spare the space in your refrigerator, wrap them individually in tissue or other paper, pack them in a box with good ventilation, and store them in the coolest place in your house. Check them often to remove any rotting apples.

Fall Crop Planning

Direct Sow

If the space isn’t needed by your zucchini, try sowing seeds from this list. For best results soak the seeds for a couple hours in water and keep the soil moist until they germinate and get established. 

  • Beets
  • Carrots (These need consistently moist soil. Some people cover the seedbed with damp cardboard and checking daily for signs of sprouting and pests.)
  • Onion (an overwintering variety)
  • Garlic (No rush. I sow garlic as late as November.)

Start In Pots

If you don’t have the space in your garden, wait to sow the garlic and start these seeds in pots toward the end of this month:

  • Beets (Prefer direct sowing, but I have transplanted with success.)
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Lettuces
  • Onions (many overwintering varieties will ripen for an early spring harvest.)
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard

Water Wise

Dripping Spring Ollas

Watering is going to be a big deal in August. Willamette Valley averages about a ½ inch of rain this month, but sometimes we get zip, zero, nada. Keep an eye on your Weekly Watering Number and read Six Ways to Water your Garden for more tips.

Top up on your mulch in your perennials and garden beds to keep soil moist and cool during the dog days of summer. If you use drip irrigation, drop mulch on top of your lines to retain more water.   Read more about Mulch and Green Manures.

Heat Waves

When a heatwave is predicted there’s several things you can do to help your garden weather the stress. Aside from water and mulch, try flying a shade cloth or set up an umbrella. Move potted plants into the shade and water morning and evening. Weeding is helpful for reducing competition for water. 

Summer Pruning Fruit Trees

Thinning cut example
Thinning cut example

Pruning in August helps restrict growth in fruit trees that want to grow right out of your reach. In the summer there is plentiful energy in the branches and leaves, removing this restricts energy availability for excessive growth. Whereas in the winter, energy is stored in the crown, roots, and trunk. Winter pruning frees up energy for new growth and fruit production. Just remember not to prune more than 30% of the tree’s vegetation annually to avoid triggering weedy survival growth.

As always, remove damaged, or crossing branches first using thinning cuts. Read my Pruning Primer for more info.

  • Cherry Trees – Do most of your pruning in the summer to keep your fruit in easy reach.
  • Apple Trees – I do half of my yearly pruning in the summer and half in the winter for a total of 30% yearly. I generally prune the branches that are growing more or less straight up to restrict the height of the tree. (Called water sprouts.)
  • Peach, nectarine, and some varieties of plum trees are also commonly pruned in the summer. 

Summer Pruning Cane Fruits

  • Trailing blackberries like marionberry: you can remove the spent canes and train the new canes by wrapping around your trellis. Get your welding gear on, these guys are pokey.
  • Upright blackberries (semi-erect) like triple crown, thin the new canes and top the ones you want to keep to the top of your trellis. This will encourage lateral branching. Harvest and dry some of the leaves for a mineral rich tea. 
  • Raspberries: remove any dead floricanes and top this years primocanes to remove the part that fruited.

Early Winterizing Tips

Sow Cover Crops

If your harvests have left some of your beds empty-ish, scatter some winter cover crop seed to enrich and protect your soil through the winter. Some good choices are winter rye, fava, Austrian field pea, daikon radish, and winter oats. My favorite is a cold hardy mix from True Leaf Market. No matter bad my timing is, a few varieties find a way to germinate and fill in the gaps to protect the soil. (Read more on cover crops in my Garden Winterization Techniques page.) 

Chop and Drop

Unlock the nutrients in spent crop material by chopping and dropping in vacant bed space. Option: First broadcast cover crop seed, then add this material to the top. Be warned that decomposing material gets decomposer insects excited and they will nibble tender young fall crops. (So I only do this on beds that are done for the season.)

Happy Harvesting!  

If you’re wondering if I’d like a sample of your homemade salsa. Yes. Yes I would. 

Further Reading

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: