What to do on your Property in August – Cold Temperate Climates
It’s the peak of the summer heat and this is the time of year that our gardens are feeling it the most. However, there are still plenty of things to be doing on your property this month. This list is tailored for cold temperate climate growing zones, but if you are looking for warm temperate or sub-tropical growing zone lists CLICK HERE.
In the Garden
Things to plant by seed: beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips.
Fall greens: In order to stagger your harvest times later in the fall, consider planting smaller amounts of fall greens (salad mixes, kale, etc.) every other week. The same can be done with beets and radishes.
Brassicas: Plant broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower by seed or transplants. Keep them well-watered (1″ per week) as they get established and mulch with straw around the base to cover the soil and prevent water evaporation.
Harvest: tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and other night shades. Prop up plants as needed to provide support.
Mulch: Keep bare soil covered completely to prevent water evaporation and protect microorganisms. Add a little more compost and wood chips around fruit trees and berry bushes. Add another layer of straw around garden veggies.
Compost application: Add fresh organic compost to strawberry patch (thin them while you apply compost). You can also add compost to bramble canes (blackberries and raspberries) to improve next years harvest.
It’s time to start making tinctures and drying herbs.
In the Greenhouse
We are finished with the “greenhouse” season, but if you have a shade cloth, you can actually open up all the windows now and put the shade cloth over the top. This will allow you to start micro-greens and other later season veggie starts. If using a shade cloth, use the opened greenhouse for your indoor tropical plants to give them a season outdoors. Just be sure to pay attention to your watering!
Clean and sterilize the plastic pots used this winter / spring
Set mouse traps to control critters
Hang fly trap to control aphids, flies, and other pests
In the Food Forest
Harvest berries that are ripe: goji, elderberry, blackberry, raspberry, etc.
Mulch: Apply mulch / wood-chips around the base of fruit trees. Keep the wood chips away from the base of the tree, because if they touch the trunk it can cause rot or bacterial issues. Wood chips will encourage mycorrhizal activity and strengthen the root system.
Herbs around fruit trees: Start harvesting herbs to dry and make tinctures, harvest fruit as they are ripe and remove those that fall to the ground. Fallen fruit calls in the pests… So feed to chickens or add to the compost pile.
Harvest elderberries: If you are making elderberry tinctures, teas, or wine – now is your time to harvest. Whatever you do not harvest, the birds will take care of for you. It is also a great time to harvest elderberry canes for cuttings and propagation.
Watch for fungal issues on leaves and apply organic neem spray as needed.
Plant late summer ground covers in any “bare spots” around the forest. Consider things like daikon radish or crimson clover. Water the first 10-12 days until established.
Wait to plant new fruit trees and berry bushes until next month, when the heat dials down a few notches.
Reminder: Elderberry must be cooked before eating.
In the Shed
After heavy spring and summer use, give power tools a quick check (oil, air filters, and clean off exteriors).
Check mouse traps and keep animal feed in sealed containers.
Give cutting tools a good cleaning (using rubbing alcohol) and oil afterwards to prevent rust.
In the Chicken Coop
Chickens: Some of the early spring chickens will start laying soon. Once the first egg has appeared, switch chickens over to a layer feed and/or provide supplemental calcium.
Harvest comfrey and feed to chickens, horses, goats, and cattle.
Quail: Mix apple cider vinegar and honey with their water once a week. Pick fresh flowers and grass seed heads to put inside their coop and nesting area. This is a great time to provide supplemental protein using meal worms and small crickets.
Deworm: Use 1 tablespoon of Basic H in a 5 gallon waterer (1tsp per gal) for chickens (NOTE: Use the original formula of Basic H, which comes in a 5 gallon bucket OR 30 gallon drum). Add 1.5 cups to a 100gal waterer basin for cattle and horses. Available in bulk (much cheeper for farm use) This should be their only water source for two days.
Coop clean out: On a sunny day with a breeze, clean out the coop in the morning. Use Basic H organic cleaner and spray everything out. Leave the coop open all day to dry it out with good airflow. Clean out all waterers and feeders using a bleach solution.
Add wood ash to the dustbath to help prevent and treat lice and mites.
CLICK HERE for extra tips on keeping chickens cool during hot summer months.
Around the House
Keep South and West facing shades closed during the day time in order to block out the hot sun.
Open up the windows on cooler nights to help air out the house and let in fresh air.
Replace your HVAC filters
Check batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
Wash windows (inside and out). Use a product like “Invisible Glass” to avoid streaks.
Clean outdoor windows and doors (I use Basic H for this)
Apply UV protectant to your recreational vehicles (boats, car interiors, RV’s, decals, etc.
Spray tire shine and protectant on vehicle and trailer tires to prevent sun damage
Give houseplants a good fertilization and shower to clean off leaves
In the Perennial Flower Beds
Dead-heading: Cut back spent flowers in order to get a second bloom. Spent flower heads can be fed to chickens or composted.
Plant seeds of larkspur, holly hocks, and poppies for next year
Add extra wood chips to areas that are in full sun in order to protect soil health and microbial activity
Bring cut flowers indoors and share with neighbors, especially those who are shut-ins or elderly
Find / create garden activities that involve kids.
We hope this list was helpful for you! Enjoy some much needed time outdoors and we’ll see you in the garden.
February is prime vegetable season for much of the warmer regions in the US. So despite some of the frosts and heavy freezing this year, there are still many enjoyable tasks ahead in the garden. Plus, it’s the perfect planning season for the food forest. As soon as the danger of frost is past, orchards and agroforestry rows will be popping, so if you don’t have a design and long-term plan for your site… this is the best time to do it! This Garden To-Do list for February will help you cover all the bases on your homestead in order to be ready for an abundant spring. For the To-Do List for USDA Zones 3-8, CLICK HERE.
In the Garden
To Transplant: Greens, arugula, beets, brassicas, cabbage, eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes.
To plant by seed: beans (all kinds), melons, corn, cucumbers, okra, onions, radish, squash, turnips, watermelon.
Bulbs: Ginger and Turmeric can go in now. We recommend spiral ginger, blue turmeric, and galangal for a bit of exotic variety. There is a great company in Central Florida (who ships nationwide) that has organic ginger, called A Natural Farm. Let them know we referred ya!
Annuals to Plant
Violas and Pansies
Perennial Flowers and Around the House
Mulching! This is the optimum time to mulch and start applying a layer of compost to your garden and food forest areas (especially end of February). Many regions have tree service companies that will deliver wood chips for free if you call and ask them. Get ready for a dump truck load!
Empty and Sterilize Bird Houses (and feeders): You want to have this completed by mid-month, so you are ready for the spring nesting season. To disinfect, I use Shaklee Basic H and/or G. You can find it by clicking here
Start ordering your organic soil amendments for spring (compost, mushroom compost, manure, etc.)
Finalize your seed orders. Use companies that have organic and non-GMO seeds. I really like Baker Creek and Seed the Stars.
Dig new swales and cover with straw or winter wheat seed to prepare for spring gardens.
Mulch, mulch, mulch! Lots of compost and manure applications by the third week of February.
Plant cold hardy trees and shrubs while they are in (or close to dormancy). In Central Florida, this is the perfect time to plant peaches, plum, nectarine, mulberries, elderberries, persimmon, peach, etc. Always plant (and water well) when they are dormant. Never plant trees when they are in the flowering phase. You want as much energy as possible to go to the root system. First year fruit trees should NOT be allowed to bear fruit (pick them off), but it’s ok to allow some berry bushes to fruit the first year.
NOTE: Wait to plant tropical trees like avocado, mango, strawberry tree until Easter.
Cover Crops: Durana clover (or other clover mixes) can be planted during warm spells, and red winter wheat can also be planted for chicken forage. There are also other cold season cover crops that can be interplanted, like radish, turnip, beet, etc.
Order organic orchard supplies for the coming season – be sure to look for holiday sales! Include seaweed extract, BioAg, neem oil, and fish emulsion. Get ready for spring foliar spraying.
Plant lespedeza, millet (last half of month if weather is ok), could possibly plant corn or sunflowers for silage.
Some clovers can be planted at this time, if there is a 5-7 day window of warmer evening and rain.
Dormant comfrey (bocking 14 variety only) can be planted now for minerals.
Turnips and radishes (especially daikon) can be planted in food plot areas as well. Just be sure to water until they are established.
GOATS: If you have goats, you can feed them used Christmas trees for an extra boost of vitamin C and antioxidants. Deworm using Basic H (see next note).
CATTLE: Deworming can be done using Joel Salatin’s method of using 1tsp of Basic H per gallon of water or 1/3 cup for a 50 gallon watering trough. I prefer the original Basic H instead of the Basic H2 though. It comes in a 5 gallon bucket, which is a great opportunity to go in with another farmer to purchase. It will last for YEARS! CLICK HERE TO ORDER
In the Shed
Check mouse traps frequently. Add cotton balls with peppermint oil to deter rodents. This time of year it is common for mice to start having babies, especially in the greenhouse.
TIP: Make a tool oiling bucket by filling it with sand and adding a pint or two of oil. You can use old motor oil from your car or even olive olive. Put shovels and spades in this to remove rust and keep oiled.
Look for estate sales that might have garden tools. The best tools are often the old wooden handled ones – skip the new ones. Most of the time, they are overpriced and not made with the quality standard they used to be.
In the Chicken Coop
Feed extra protein (meal worms, black oiled sunflower seeds, bugs, etc.) to help them during their own recovery season.
Do NOT let a hen go broody yet. Wait until the end of February. The weather fluctuates too much this time of year and that can make it a hard hatch for your girls.
Consider hatching eggs indoors in an incubator. Use a reputable company for ordering OR use your own fertilized eggs. Collect hatching eggs and store in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours before putting in the incubator.
Do NOT use supplemental lighting to increase egg production. Chickens need this off season to let their bodies rest. Let them have a natural rhythm of rest too.
Add a small amount of corn or millet to their diet to help with caloric intake in the winter months. This helps keep them warm naturally. NEVER use heat lamps in a coop or run.
Rotate straw and bedding in the coop to keep things clean and sanitary.
Give healthy protein / omega 3 treats: One cheep way to do this is to go to a local pet store and get feeder fish (cheep minnows). Put them into a shallow tray (with a bit of water) and watch the birds catch them! You can also purchase live crickets from pet stores and feel them fresh veggies for a day or two. Feed several per day to your birds for a healthy winter treat.
Deworm using Joel Salatin’s suggested organic method, using Shaklee’s Basic H. 5 drops for chickens in 1 gallon of water. Click here for order info. NOTE: He recommends using the original Basic H as opposed to Basic H2.
Winter Ideas for Kids
Go on a hike and look for deer runs and fallen deer antlers.
Look for wood ear mushrooms! They love the warmer winter days this time of year and are absolutely delicious. Not to mention, they have no “inedible” look a-likes, so are a safe variety for new mushroom hunters to harvest.
Attend a local gardening, mushroom, or permaculture event in your area.
Have kids help you pick out seeds for next year in the seed catalogues. Consider giving them their own section of the garden to plant in the spring. Have them cut out pictures from your seed catalogue to make a collage to inspire them to plant with you in the spring.
See something we miss?? Add your ideas in the comments below!