If you want to know the best vegetables to plant in August, you’ve come to the right place. As thoughts for many turn to rest and relaxation, here at Gardeningetc HQ we know August is a month when it pays to think ahead. Far from resting on your laurels, it’s a key point in the calendar for setting up your future kitchen garden. ‘There’s no doubt spring is the main sowing period, but high summer is a close second,’ says Amateur Gardening’s fruit and veg expert Lucy Chamberlain.
As Lucy points out, get things in motion during this valuable month, and you do two things. You can make the most of bare patches in your raised garden bed ideas that appear as summer crops are harvested. And you maximize your harvest during autumn, winter and spring. ‘That’s every season covered by just one month of activity – not bad going,’ says Lucy.
While high-summer sowings require a bit of care with regards to heat exposure, soil quality and watering, this is a highly enjoyable time of year to make things happen. Furthermore, the resulting plants benefit from autumn’s cooler conditions. So make the most of this crucial month to start off a host of yummy baby roots and lovely leafy treats.
Vegetables to plant in August: 10 crops to grow now
We've hand-picked up some of our favorite vegetables to plant in August. With this combination of classic staples and modern picks, you'll enjoy months of easy flavor.
Hardy, easy to grow and prolifically leafy, rocket is a must-grow in your kitchen garden ideas for use raw to elevate salads or cooked as a spinach substitute. Rich in potassium and vitamin C, it is a popular cut-and-come-again cropper. Sow small batches every two weeks for continuous growth. Great varieties to try including high-yielding ‘Skyrocket’, bolt-resistant ‘Pegaus’ and visually dynamic ‘Dragon’s Tongue.’
Rocket thrives in a sunny spot with well-drained soil, or in containers. Here's what to do if you're including this on your list of vegetables to plant in August:
- Sow until early September, scattering seeds in raked earth, 1cm (½in) deep, then water well.
- Thin to 4-6in (10-15cm).
- Water well to prevent bolting, and weed regularly.
- Give shade in hot weather.
- You can start harvesting four weeks after sowing. Pick just a few leaves at a time from each plant so you don’t weaken the growth.
- As flower buds appear, pinch them out to prolong cropping.
Make sure you watch out for flea beetles – an obvious sign is where leaves get covered in small holes. Water in nitrogen-rich fertilizer to help plants outgrow this pest.
The flowers are also edible and can be used as a garnish for salads. Read our guide to edible flowers for more on gorgeous blooms you can eat.
2. Spring onions
Scallions, bunching onions, salad onions: whatever you call them, these salad staples are so versatile, meaning they're a great option for vegetables to plant in August. Sow every couple of weeks between now and September for a regular supply. You can also sow a winter-hardy type in August for spring crops. The best variety for overwintering is ‘White Lisbon’. ‘Ishikura’ is a nice sweet option. Or for something bold, try purple ‘Apache’ or burgundy ‘New Holland Blood Red.’
Prepare some fertile, well-drained soil by clearing stones, and dig in well-rotted manure. Rake in some granulated fertilizer, too. Make sure the surface has a fine, crumbly texture. Then follow these planting and growing essentials:
- Sow thinly in drills half-inch (1cm) deep in rows 4-6in (10-15cm) apart, then cover with a little soil.
- Thin the seedlings if necessary so they are 1in (2.5cm) apart.
- Water and mulching will help maintain moisture and keep weed-free.
- Weed by hand: spring onions have shallow roots that can be disturbed by hoeing.
- Lift as and when required – they are best young, 6in (15cm) tall.
Spring onions are also a good option if you're interested in growing vegetables in pots. Choose a container with good drainage holes and fill it with good potting compost. Scatter seed over the surface and cover with 1.5cm (1/2in) of compost, then water to moisten.
Watch out for onion white rot and onion downy mildew. White rot is a soil-borne fungus that causes wilting of foliage and root rot. Onion downy mildew is a fungal disease that damages foliage and bulbs. It is a problem in damp conditions. Ensure plenty of air around plants and weed regularly. Don’t overwater, as it makes them more disease-prone.
To find out more about how to grow onions, read our guide.
3. Swiss chard
Leaf beet, as it is also known, is a member of the ‘goosefoot’ family. It’s easy to grow, packed with vitamins, and lovely in floral garden borders or large containers. One sowing gives months of crops. Eat young leaves raw, or use established leaves in stir-fries, casseroles and soups. Stalks are also edible. Great varieties to try include vibrant ‘Bright Lights’, chunky ‘Bright Yellow’, scarlet ‘Fantasy’ and creamy ‘Fordhook Giant’.
Follow these three simple planting tips to get started:
- Make a shallow drill in free-draining soil in an open, sunny site.
- Sow thinly, around 1.5cm (half an inch) deep, in rows 40cm apart. Cover with soil and water well.
- Thin to 1ft (30cm) apart, or 2in (5cm) for mini crops and water well. Keep adding water. Once developed, add mulch to hold in moisture.
Chard grows well with root vegetables like parsnips and turnips. It prefers moderate temperatures as heat slows down growth. This veg is ready to harvest 10-12 weeks after sowing. In October, cover plants with cloches or protect with straw. These plants are visually arresting as well as nutritious and look amazing in raised beds. To find out more about the best vegetables to grow in raised beds, follow our guide.
Watch out for the following problems with growing chard:
- Downy mildew: Can happen in humid weather, and a problem with densely sown crops. Seedlings collapse. Prevent by making sure there is plenty of space around plants and choosing mildew-resistant varieties.
- Grey mould: This fuzzy growth occurs in damp conditions. Remove damaged plant parts before they become infected. Cut out infected areas and clear up infected debris. Avoid overcrowding of young plants.
- Beet leaf miner: Flies with maggots that tunnel inside leaves. This problem will eventually affect the growth of the plant. Take preventative steps to net the crops.
There are hundreds of varieties of radish grown worldwide, plus growing radishes is so easy that they are used as school projects for young gardeners. So if you aren’t on the case yet – why on earth not? You’ve still got time in the early part of the month, so get to it and make this one of your vegetables to plant in August!
- Make a few sowings for a steady supply of crispy, vibrant crop-poppers. Direct-sow in the ground or sow in containers.
- If sowing in the ground, make short drills 6in (15cm) apart and sow half an inch (1cm) deep. Sow summer radish seeds 2.5cm (1in) apart, and winter varieties 6in (15cm) apart.
- Remember to keep the soil moist.
- As radishes are fast growers, try interplanting some between slower-growing veg like potatoes.
- You can harvest four weeks from sowing: these veggies are best eaten young.
Watch out for flea beetle, where the leaves get covered in small holes. Keep the soil moist and add a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to help the crop get the better of this pest. Also watch out for brassica downy mildew. Yes, you read that right. Radish is part of the brassica family. Leaves turn yellow and develop white patches. Remove infected plants quickly.
There are plenty of great varieties to try: ‘Both summer (‘Marabelle’) and winter (‘Black Spanish’) types quickly grow to produce peppery roots,’ says Lucy Chamberlain. Or there’s elongated ‘French Breakfast’, and ‘Sparkler’ which is ideal for containers. One of our favorites is ‘Mooli’, a crisp yet mild winter radish you can harvest until December.
Did you know? In Mexico, they celebrate the Night of the Radishes (Noche de Rabanos). This annual festival takes place 24 hours before Christmas Eve. Mexican sculptors create Nativity scenes using big radishes!
5. Baby carrots
Not thought about how to grow carrots yet this year? Don't worry as you’ve still got a tiny bit of time left to start off carrots for mini-sized hunks of homegrown loveliness to enjoy in cooler months – so don’t delay!
‘These crunchy roots take time to bulk up, so sow now if you’d like abundant winter casseroles, soups and roasts,’ says Lucy Chamberlain. Various gaps will appear in the plot now, so choose an open, sunny spot and you’re off.
Here are Lucy’s easy three-step guide to the best baby carrots:
- Fork in a base dressing of bone meal or similar slow-release fertilizer before raking over the area to level it and remove larger stones. This is important because carrots struggle with stones.
- Make your drill slightly deeper than normal (1.5-2in or 4-5cm is good) to combat any summer drought. Water the base thoroughly, then sprinkle the carrot seeds between finger and thumb to space them 0.2in (0.5cm) apart. This allows for germination failures and you can thin out the surplus later.
- Cloak sowings in insect-proof mesh to protect against root fly. Keep well weeded and watered, and wait for those yummy crunchers!
Our top tip? Choose an appropriate winter-hardy variety. Lucy recommends ‘Extremo’ and ‘Eskimo’. We also love ‘Purple Haze’, the first hybrid colored carrot with purple skin and orange insides.
Popeye’s crop of choice, spinach is a nutritious staple and if you follow our guide on how to grow spinach you'll soon see it's oh-so easy to grow too. It should definitely be on your list of vegetables to plant in August, as you can reap the rewards well into winter if you choose a hardy cultivar and select a sunny spot. It’s great as baby leaves for crunchy salads or as larger, fatter additions to the soup or casserole pot.
- Prep soil by digging in garden compost and raking in a general fertilizer.
- Direct-sow in a drill 1in (2.5cm) deep, sprinkling seeds thinly. If sowing multiple rows, space 1ft (30cm) apart.
- Water, then cover lightly with soil.
- Thin to 4-6in (10-15cm) apart. Then just keep well watered.
- You can also sow seeds thinly in large containers. In hot spells, make sure the plants benefit from some shade.
- Around six-10 weeks later, harvest every alternate plant. Cut back to just above the base of the plant to encourage more leaves.
Winter cultivars may need protection from October – cover with cloches and protect with straw. Watch out for spinach downy mildew, which makes the leaves unappetising. Prevent this with good plant spacing to improve air circulation, and by watering at the base of the plants.
Good varieties include ‘Perpetual Spinach’, which does well on dry soils, crunchy ‘Medania’ and fast-growing ‘Missouri’. For a decorative flourish, try ‘Red Veined’. For resistance to downy mildew, try ‘Apollo’ or ‘Palco’. For resistance to bolting, try ‘Violin’ and ‘Amazon’.
Beetroot is one of the best plants for beginners, so take advantage of this opportunity to start off some beet beauties of your own by adding them to your list of vegetables to plant in August. As well as being easy and full of color options, beetroot is one of those veggies that tastes amazing when young.
So capitalize on the next few weeks of sunshine to cultivate baby roots that are mouthwatering even when no bigger than golf ball size! Beets can be harvested until October, and their storage potential means you can be chomping on roots well into winter.
Bear the following tips in mind when starting out with how to grow beetroot.
- You need fertile, well-drained soil that’s been raked to a fine tilth. Before sowing, add some well-rotted garden compost or similar organic matter. Also rake in a handful of general-purpose fertilizer.
- Sow three seeds at 4in (10cm) spacings, an inch deep (2.5cm) deep, with rows a foot (30cm) apart. Make sure the spot is sunny and warm.
- When seedlings are an inch (2.5cm) high, thin to 4in (10cm) spacings.
- During dry spells, watering plants every week is a must (it reduces the risk of bolting as well as nourishing your beets). It might help to apply a high nitrogen fertilizer and water this in.
- At harvest, lift a few alternate roots by gathering the base of the stems and twisting, or lift with a fork. Although especially tender if harvested young, they are fine eaten when the size of a tennis ball or smaller.
Some beet varieties, like F1 hybrid ‘Action’ are bred to quickly give tender, baby roots and they have bolt-resistance too, says Lucy. Then there’s purple 'Boltardy’ for early cropping, ‘Pablo’ for lip-smacking baby beets, pink and white 'Chioggia’ and sunny 'Burpee’s Golden’.
We’ve come a long way since the days when parsley was used as a token garnish. This ubiquitous tactile herb, a rich source of iron and vitamin C, can bring pep to all manner of sauces, stuffings and dressings, so why not add it to you list of vegetables to plant in August? Choose from pretty curly-leaf parsley varieties or the stronger flat-leaf type for endless kitchen garden bliss.
If you're learning how to grow parsley, seeds can be sown indoors from August to March in cells or plug trays, or in pots. Parsley seeds are slow to germinate, taking around six weeks, so make sure growing conditions are warm. Lightly cover the seed with more compost and keep moist. Grow on in cooler conditions and plant out when the last frosts are over, after hardening off for 10 days.
Alternatively, buy young plants to plant out in late summer. Dig over the planting area, adding compost or leaf mould. Place each plant in the planting hole and fill. Apply a granular plant food and water in well. Keep watering in dry periods to prevent bolting. It helps to feed with liquid plant food such as seaweed fertilizer. If plants go to seed, remove flower heads. It’s also good to cut back any yellowing foliage.
Harvest when the plant has 10 leaves. Cut leaves starting low down on the stems. Cover plants with a cloche to protect from the cold and extend the harvest season.
Parsley is one of the best low maintenance plants – just watch out for carrot root fly. It helps to cover early sowings with a cloche, and to use garlic and onions as companion planting options to deter pests. Celery leaf miner can also be a problem, so grow under horticultural fleece or mesh.
Great parsley varieties include ornamental ‘Envy AGM’ flavorsome ‘Bravour’ or tightly packed ‘Champion Moss Curled’. Or try a flat parsley like sweet ‘Titan’ or aromatic ‘Gigante Napoletano’.
Homegrown leeks are a lush, sweet treat (plus, they are rich in vitamin A). And August is a great time to plant in their final positions if you haven’t already as part of your plans for how to grow leeks. That way, they will reach their peak with the cooler months. You should be ok if you do this by early August; just check the packet instructions to make sure your variety fits the bill.
Hopefully seedlings started in April-May (indoors or in a seed bed) will develop strong roots at the 10-week mark. Once they are pencil-thick (6-8in/15-20cm tall), they are good to transplant. Leeks can take 25-40 weeks to fully harvest, depending on the variety and growing conditions. Good late-maturing leek varieties include 'Blauwgroene Winter Bandit' and ‘Porbella’.
When planting out, make individual holes 6in (15cm) deep with a dibber, and drop each leek into it. A good guide is two-thirds underground and one third above soil level. Plant 8-9in (20-23cm) apart at least, and 12in (30cm) if you have room. Space rows 12-15in (30-38 cm). Water the hole (known as puddling in). Alternatively, plant 10in (25cm) apart in a trench, making sure leeks are upright.
Once more of the plant is showing above soil level, you can ‘blanch’ your leeks to improve the flavour. Draw the soil up the stem as it grows, or tie cardboard tubes around stems. Also, don’t forget to water during long, dry spells and weed regularly. Leeks are members of the allium family and are best grown in a place that didn't have onions or garlic the previous year.
Apart from that, they are low maintenance. Just watch for these issues:
- Leek rust: This fungal disease causes bright yellow spots on leaves. It comes on in wet spells. Make sure you don’t crowd plants, as this increases humidity and increases the risk of infection.
- Onion white rot: A soil-borne fungus that leads to wilting of the foliage above ground, while rotting the roots. Remove affected plants, and burn or bin them – do not compost them.
- Leek moth: Caterpillars tunnel into leaves, causing brown patches on leaves. In severe cases, rotting occurs. Destroy infected plants. When planting out, cover leeks with horticultural fleece.
Claytonia perfoliata (aka miner’s lettuce or winter purslane) is quick growing, mild and rich in vitamin C. This hardy leaf was widely used in the California Goldrush and was known as the food to eat ‘when times are tough’. It’s a forager’s favorite and it thrives even in poor, light soils. Follow these top tips for great results.
- Choose a slightly shaded site for shallow drills, and water well before sowing.
- Sow half an inch deep in rows and thin so they are 3-4in (8-10cm) apart.
- Sow in August, or plant between August and September, then harvest from October to February. This plant is ready to harvest six-eight weeks after sowing.
- Cut leaves as soon as they are large enough.
- Continue harvesting until the plant starts to flower the following February. It can self-seed quickly, but it is shallow rooted and the seedlings can be removed easily.
Try growing with a frilly leaf rocket, deep purple Chinese basil or red orache. As well as being packed with vitamin C, this lovely plant is loaded with iron, magnesium and calcium, and is high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Did you know? Word to the wise: the leaves have a gentle laxative effect! So go easy on how many you add to your plate (unless, of course, you have a need for help in that area).
Want to grow even more leafy crops to enjoy in cooler months? Read our guide on growing lettuce in winter to find out more.
What other veg jobs can I do in August?
- Sow turnips for baby roots: ‘Sow a quick-maturing F1 hybrid such as ‘Tokyo Cross’ to gain pure white baby roots with no hint of woodiness or musty flavour,’ says Lucy Chamberlain.
- Start basil, marjoram, coriander and dill in pots. ‘Cut back herbs that are looking tired, like chives and mint. This will encourage fresh growth for a continued supply of leaves,’ says Marcus Eyles of Dobbies. You can also propagate rosemary and divide clumps of chives. There's more tips on how to grow basil and how to grow mint in our guides.
- Sow lettuce. As Lucy points out, ‘Hardy varieties like ‘Winter Density’ and ‘Tom Thumb’ create the perfect companion for your Christmas day prawn cocktail.’ You’ve also still got time to sow bitter leaves. ‘The red leaves of radicchio like ‘Palla Rossa’ liven up winter salads,’ says Lucy.
- Start seed potatoes now for new potatoes at Christmas. Plant now in your greenhouse ideas, best mini greenhouse or in pots that can be moved under cover. They will take around 12 weeks from planting to cropping. To find out more about how to grow potatoes, read our guide.
- Keep an eye on ripening tomatoes and watch for blossom end rot. Prevent it by frequent watering. ‘Water tomato plants regularly, adding a high potash tomato feed for growth and fruiting,’ says Marcus Eyles. If you need more advice on how to grow tomatoes, our guide can help.
- Sow Oriental leaves. Mizuna and mibuna are quick-growing leaves that can be eaten raw young or, as they mature, added to stir-fries or wilted like spinach, says Lucy. Mustards like ‘Red Frills’ and ‘Red Giant’ are highly ornamental plants that grow quickly to produce spicy foliage.
- Water squash and pumpkins well as they ripen under the summer sun. This is a key stage in their growth and development, says Marcus.
Keep an eye on fruit jobs in August
- Support plum trees and make sure heavy-cropping varieties like 'Victoria’, are tied into stakes, says Lucy. ‘With fruit size (and weight) increasing exponentially, some tree limbs are put under enormous strain – with dire consequences. Snapping branches can spoil the shape of your tree, and they may take years to replace. Prevent disaster by propping up heavily laden stems using a ‘Y’-shaped stick.’
- ‘Cut back spent summer fruiting raspberry canes to the ground, tying in the new whips for next year’s crop as you go,’ says Dobbies’ Marcus Eyles. Protect autumn raspberries with netting from the birds. Follow our guide on how to grow raspberries to find out more.
- Grow strawberry runners for next year’s fruits, says organic veg expert Bob Flowerdew. ‘Select strong runners with healthy plantlets and root into small pots. When plants root, detach them and give them their own big containers or buckets, keeping them off the ground and safe from pests.’ Read our guide on how to grow strawberries for more tips.
- Don’t forget to keep watering fruit bushes and trees. Swelling currants, apples and pears all need regular hydration – make sure you are giving them generous amounts that soak into the earth.
Prepare a drill in hot, dry weather
Make sure you prepare the groundwork well for your august sowings. Lucy Chamberlain explains how to give your crops the best start:
- Make your drill deeper than normal, so instead of the usual 2in (5cm) opt for 3in (8cm). By burying the seeds deeper in the soil you’ll protect them from drying out, leading to better germination and emergence.
- Once excavated, irrigate the drill thoroughly. Apply half a watering can to a 2m-long drill, adding it in stages so that it soaks in well. You’re then creating a water reservoir for your young seedlings to tap into.
- Cover over the drill with dry soil, tamping it down well with the back of a rake to eliminate air pockets. By keeping this top layer dry rather than wet, the moisture doesn’t wick to the surface and evaporate away.
It’s also a good idea to make sure your growing area is well prepared by following our tips on how to get rid of weeds. Hopefully we’ve given you plenty to be getting on with this month with these vegetables to plant in August. Happy growing – and don’t forget to fill up your watering cans and water your growing crops every day over the late summer weeks!
As assistant editor of Amateur Gardening magazine, Janey's gardening passion was fostered from an early age, when her amazing mum had her deadheading hydrangeas, mulching roses, and propagating strawberry plants from runners for school open days. Her gardening childhood was like living with Tom and Barbara from The Good Life, with figs growing in the greenhouse, homemade blueberry jams piled high, and demijohns filled with her dad’s elderflower sherry experiments. City living has generally meant doing without a conventional outdoor space, but she is slowly transforming her thimble-sized abode into a haven of vertical vegetation. She's also taken part in lots of conservation and rewilding projects for the RHS and TCV as a way of exploring her horticultural horizons whilst helping to create and maintain beautiful spaces for others. When she grows up, she would like a Victorian conservatory, some proper old-fashioned cold frames and bell cloches, and a better system for storing all her seed packets.
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