Most of us are starting to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labors in August. I’m collecting tomatoes (finally!) but I’m hoping my zucchini will ripen and grow before the blight and stem rot kills ’em in their youth. And I would really like to know that after years of growing zukes hearty enough to hollow out and use as canoes, why these last two seasons I’ve gotten all but bupkis out of ’em. But if your harvests are disappointing (and even if they’re not), turn your eyes and efforts towards sowing seeds now for a fresh fall crop of cool-weather vegetables.

Peas will sprout and grow for harvesting in September. Spinach, Swiss chard, and lettuce can all be planted and continuously harvested now that the days are shortening. And hopefully, the fall crop won’t bolt as fast as the summer crop did.

Now is also the time to start building those cold-weather frames. If you’re planning on stretching your garden boxes out to late October or early November, have the frames ready for weird fall weather.

If you’ve got plants you’re fixing to bring inside for the winter, start bringing them inside to get used to the lower humidity and more temperate climates of indoors.

I love how late summer and early fall really make the weeds in the vacant lots bloom into beautiful patches of color. The Queen Anne’s Lace is still frosting the weed patches, and the thistles are finally starting to lose their down. The other pricklies are also finally starting to bloom, soft yellows and faded purples, and the occasional deep maroon of whatever else might be poking its head up. And the puce of sweet clover surges back up for a second flowering.

Support your local farmers’ markets. Now is the best time to get in as these small farmers are able to bring the widest selection of their crops to market. And if you’re like me, where you’re overwhelmed with tomatoes but not so much as you need to sell ’em or give ’em away to the neighbors, canning supplies are not that expensive.

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