August in Your Greenhouse
Though we sit past the halfway point of this year’s summer season, there is still plenty to do in your garden and your greenhouse as well! With warm weather expected to grace us with its presence yet again next week, you should expect to be watering your garden multiple times daily. This is the time of the summer when it starts to get really hot and you may want to stay inside more and more, but I implore you, keep watering your plants! If you don’t, all the hard work you’ve put in so far this year will be all for not. Setting up sprinkler systems or other automatic watering systems are a fantastic way to save yourself some time and energy. However, if you are ready to get out in the heat, gardening in your greenhouse is back in full swing this month! Just by the very nature of a greenhouse, this month will be warm and at times potentially uncomfortable for you inside your controlled microclimate, but your plants will love it. As harvesting summer crops comes more into play this month, you will be spending a lot of time outside. Watering, harvesting and the beginning of cutting back perennials/clearing out single season crops can be a tall order depending on how much you planted this spring. Here’s to hoping that fire season this year is relatively mild, we haven’t gotten a solid week of soot filled skies so that’s pretty nice. Clean air is pretty essential towards both your plants growing and you being able to garden. So here’s to a great August and all that can be done in and around your greenhouse this month!
With summer coming to a close at the end of this month, people may experience an increased want to get out and do something! For many this means taking a trip somewhere or maybe going to a concert on a Wednesday night down in Seattle (as I did earlier this week). If you are like many others and looking to get away, even for a weekend, consider perhaps traveling locally. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have plenty of off the beaten path towns and areas to visit that rival any vacation destination hot spot. Port Townsend is a personal favorite of mine; tucked away, plenty to do but not far enough to be annoyed by the travel required. Traveling locally is also a great way to live sustainably! Newer cars, especially hybrid and electric vehicles get pretty good gas mileage so driving a few hours really doesn’t leave a big carbon footprint. Aside from that, traveling to and spending money in small towns and businesses is a great way to stimulate local economies. In fact, many smaller coastal towns can often rely on their tourism industry to survive year round. For these reasons and more, please consider a staycation this summer. Who knows, you might just find your new favorite vacation spot essentially in your backyard.
This month basically more than any other, you will need to worry about controlling the temperature inside your greenhouse! I’m not just talking about using a thermometer and noting that it does in fact get well above 100°F inside of a structure with windows for walls and roofing. No, in August you will want to make sure your greenhouse doesn’t get anywhere above 90°F to make sure your plants will remain happy and healthy. Anything higher than that and your plants will surely start showing signs of fatigue, unless they are tropical plants, in which case you can disregard this part. Open your greenhouse doors in the morning to let the cool air in and keep it open throughout the day to help with airflow. Vents and fans should be running essentially 24/7 these days. If you have a timer on your outlets you can have your fans and vents switch off and close during the colder hours of the night, but you’d want them to start back up as the sun rises to keep temperatures down. Vents and fans also help a lot with air flow, making sure the air doesn’t become stagnant as stale air is bad for plants. Shading your greenhouse is very important this month if it doesn’t sit in a naturally shaded area. Knitted shading cloth is a great way to provide some cover for your plants, just be sure to install it on the exterior of your greenhouse! Doing this can not only keep the more powerful and harmful rays from the sun from getting to your plants, but it can also keep the actual structure of your greenhouse from getting too hot. Warm exterior leads to warm interiors, so just keep that in mind. One final tip to keep your greenhouse cool is to be smart with your watering! Watering your plants is all well and good, in fact it’s crucial that you do so, but watering around your plants can do wonders for keeping the temperature down in your greenhouse. Watering down the floors and benches of your greenhouse will allow for water to be temporarily trapped within your greenhouse, evaporating and cooling your greenhouse as the heat of the day increases! Check out my previous blog, Cooling Your Summer Greenhouse for more information!
As I mentioned, watering is very important this month! Watering during the heat of the day is a great way to both hydrate and cool down your plants to ensure they have nice, healthy growth. Again, spray down the areas around your plants as well to stimulate evaporation and increase humidity in the immediate area. Fertilizing is also very important this month. As plants get closer and closer to harvest, they require more food to stay strong and be able to produce optimally. Feeding once a day can be very helpful, twice a week is recommended as the minimum amount of times to feed your plants per week as you approach harvest. If you are going to take a vacation at some point, you will want to make sure your plants have someone looking after them! If you can’t find a relative, friend or neighbor that’s willing to come water your garden/greenhouse, you should invest in a self-watering system! Self-watering systems are designed to work on a schedule to water your plants when they need it. You can set them to whatever schedule you want as well as how much water is being dispersed so all you need to do is make sure the reservoir is full! Discontinue any watering as soon as the sun has set as the drop in temperature combined with water is not great for your plant’s roots. Watering during the day allows for the heat of the sun to burn off any excess water you may have added to your garden.
With the recent cool and wet mornings, I, along with most of you I’m sure, have been seeing a lot more slugs and snails around these days. They may be slow moving, but they will take over and destroy your plants given the time. This time of year your plants are growing as fast as they ever will, but pests and disease can take over just as quickly. Treating these problems after the fact is pretty close to impossible, so be vigilant from the start! Keeping an eye out in places that pests like to hide, such as under leaves, will save you a lot of heartache if you catch a pest before it becomes a problem. Slug hotels are a great way to make sure your plants stay safe from these slow moving menaces. These contraptions attract slugs and snails into an inescapable box from which you can either, humanely remove them from your garden and take them elsewhere, or (and more likely) you do whatever you want and you’ll receive no judgement from me. Whatever your pest plan is, stay on top of it and you should have a wonderful gardening experience!
If you’re not busy enough with the plants you already have growing, you can actually start a few more plants this month! Fast growing veggies like radishes and summer squash can be quick to mature and provide some extra produce for you later in the season. Lettuces and other salad greens are also quick to grow so if you have some extra space and don’t feel like buying the 50/50 spring mix from whatever grocery store you frequent, start planting! Winter lettuce and carrots for early winter harvests can also be started this time of year. This really is a great time to get a head start on your greenhouse garden for the winter season. Especially if you want bright and colorful bulbs for the holidays! Hyacinth and narcissus to name a few are perfect to plant this month to have ready in time to make the dead of winter more colorful. If you want some more info on flowering bulbs, read our previous blog Flowering Bulbs. Gardening is all about enjoying the fruits of your labor at some point further down the line, so get started now if you want to keep gardening during the winter.
Whatever you summer season has brought to you so far, I hope you’ve been enjoying it! We’ve had a slight reprieve from the recent heat wave, but unfortunately it looks to be making its way back this weekend. Getting outdoors and hitting some body of water sounds like a great way to beat the heat, just be careful and if you plan on hitting the lower fork of the Nooksack, please respect the newly proposed rules set in place to help protect the salmon migration! I hope you all enjoy and take advantage of what’s left of summer, be safe and keep gardening!