It seems when most folks think of gardening, images of tomatoes, corn and squash come to mind. These are all great crops, but they all have the major downfall of not tolerating frost.
The truth is, there are many crops that not only tolerate frost, but actually thrive with cooler weather. By learning to work in the cool-season margins of the growing season, we can prolong our growing season and greatly increase the amount of food we grow.
August can be a great time to get back in the garden and replant certain crops. Not only is the soil warmed up and ready, but as the seedlings emerge close to September, the weather is getting more comfortable. It also works great if you have empty space in your garden from crops you’ve pulled.
Planting late, however, does pose a few major problems.
Most regions still experience some brutally hot days in the middle of the month. Extremely hot temperatures can raise havoc on your young seedlings. Hot temperatures also dry your soil out faster, making it more difficult to germinate your seeds. If you choose to plant in August, watch the forecast and make sure to keep those young seedlings well-watered if hot weather arrives.
A second challenge is the impending frost. This short window may discourage you from a late planting. However, if you learn what crops will tolerate cold weather, you can expect to budget up to an extra month or more for growing. The trick is to choose the right crops that tolerate cooler daytime temperatures and frosty nights.
There are two factors to consider when planting crops in August: how fast they grow, and how frost-tolerant they are. Here are a few good crops to plant in August to improve your garden’s annual yield.
These fast-growing crops can be planted early enough to avoid a frost:
1. Baby carrots – Harvest in 30 days.
2. Leaf lettuce – Harvest in 30 days.
3. Radishes – Harvest in 30 days.
4. Spinach – Harvest in 45 days.
5. Bush beans – Harvest in 40-65 days.
Survives Light Frost
If you generally experience light frosting early on, these crops are capable of surviving:
6. Kohlrabi – 50-60 days to maturity.
7. Leaf Lettuce – 30 days to maturity.
Frost-Tolerant Crops (Survives High 20s Fahrenheit)
These three crops can really extend your growing season past the first frost:
8. Beets – 50-60 days to maturity.
9. Green onions – 60-70 days to maturity.
10. Peas – 70-80 days to maturity.
Frost Tolerant Crops (Survives Low 20’s)
These crops are the hardiest of the hardiest. They will survive after everything else has died and is in your canning jars.
11. Cabbage – 50-90 days to maturity.
12. Collard Greens – 40-65 days to maturity.
13. Kale – 40-65 days to maturity.
14. Radishes – 30-60 days to maturity.
Again, depending on where you live, August doesn’t have to necessarily spell the end of your gardening season. By getting out of the old habit of planting only after the last frost, we can really extend our growing season. All these crops can grow without the assistance of greenhouses or cold frames, but if you decided to incorporate the use of those structures, you can really start to increase your harvest.
If you get creative, organized and get busy, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to extend your growing season and do some August planting.
What would you add to our list? What do you plant in August? Share your tips in the section below: