A Moveable Feast: Daring to Plant in Mid-August!

My trustiest gardening book, Month-by-Month Gardening in the South, said under every heading for every type of plant for the month of August: do not plant at this time!  But when you’re trying to build a school garden program and develop interest among the students, you can’t lie fallow. (Though students may come and go to and from the garden, grass and weeds always seem to be willing to take over.) So, rather than plant pumpkins too late or cabbage too early, I decided in mid-August to gather the students who’d said they were up for it, and we planted a few rows of herbs. School had been in for less than two weeks, and it was time to get started.

Normally, mid-summer in Alabama is neither the time nor the place to plant. But I took it as a good sign that the folks at the nursery didn’t look at me and say, What’re you stupid or something? The lady who helped me put the four small plastic containers with my fifty little starters just said with a smile, “Be sure and water them . . . a lot.”

This has been a particularly dry summer, too. If I’m being honest, I’ll share that I wasn’t terribly fond of watering them three times, even on Saturdays and Sundays when I had to make special trips out to the school, but it was worth it. Almost all of them survived! Pictured here, on planting day, are two types of basil, catnip, mint, sage, catnip, tarragon, fennel, and parsley, as well as the rosemary plants that survived last summer and the remnants of the sunflowers, which are now sacrificing their stalks and leave to our pest control needs.

Here we are three weeks later in early September. We’ve lost all of the tarragon, and a smattering of the other plants, but the basil, the mint, and the catnip are loving life. The fennel has begun to flower as has the African blue basil. I think the rosemary also benefited from the constant watering, they’re greener than ever.


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