Table in Garden Full of Peppers Squash Leafy Greens
aug west
(Image credit: Gitanna)

August is the height of summer and gardening in the West is at its peak. Much of the gardening tasks for western regions in August will deal with harvesting vegetables and fruits you planted months ago, but you’ll also need to irrigate as well as plan and plant that winter garden. If you are organizing your August to-do list, read on. We’ll help make sure you don’t forget anything.

Gardening Tasks for Western Regions

“The West” can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people, so it’s important to get on the right page. Here in the U.S., we classify California and Nevada as the West, leaving Oregon and Washington in the Pacific Northwest region and Arizona in the Southwest. So, when we talk about gardening in the West, that’s what we mean.

Wherever you live in California or Nevada, most of your August to-do list will involve irrigating and harvesting crops. Obviously, the hot sun of August is going to dry out your soil, so if you haven’t got a regular irrigation schedule, there is no time like the present to do so. Remember not to water when it is too hot since the water will evaporate without providing irrigation for the roots.

The veggie and fruit stream continues to flow, and you’ll do well to keep picking crops like beans, peas, melons, tomatoes, and cucumbers on a daily basis, whether you plan to eat them that day or not. Trim off any ragged leaves from vegetable plants then water them deeply. You’ll see new leaves and flowers forming and more crops will come. Use this at a minimum with beans, cucumbers, and squash.

Do your picking as early in the day as possible. What’s the best time? Pretty early! Experts at the University of California at Davis have established that the optimal time to harvest is before sunrise. Veggie and fruit growth may slow or even stop when the weather gets really hot but be patient. It will resume a week or so after the heatwave is over.

August To-Do List

It’s not much fun to plant in the extreme heat, but planting is definitely a must for western gardens in August. Organize your schedule around the weather, finding time to work in the garden planting when it isn’t scorching.

What to plant in early August in the West? There are so many choices that you’ll have to pick and choose. It’s the last call to plant summer-maturing crops like bush beans, white potatoes, squash, and cucumbers. In super warm areas like Las Vegas, you even have time to start new tomato and pepper plants that will fruit in the cooler days of September.

August is also the time to start planning your winter garden. Think through what to plant, replacing a heavy-feeding crop with one that is lighter. You can include successive seedings of carrots and spinach through October to provide fresh crops through winter.

Other winter garden choices include:

When you are planting in August, cover the newly seeded areas with row covers to protect them from the worst afternoon sun and keep the soil moist. A light mulch makes this easier.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.