August is the month when summer begins its slow crawl towards autumn, but not before a few more hot days and thunderstorms!
This month, we love to celebrate the fruits of the season. Homemade tomatoes, ripe melon, sweet corn on the cob, and blueberries are just a few of our favorites.
Canning season is here, too, and you can find tips and recipes below.
The end of the month signals the time to start preparing for autumn.
Summer declines and roses have grown rare,
But cottage crofts are gay with hollyhocks,
And in old garden walks you breathe an air
Fragrant of pinks and August-smelling stocks.
—John Todhunter (1839-1916)
August is named in honor of the first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar (63 B.C.– A.D. 14), who was the grandnephew of Julius Caesar.
August 1 traditionally marked the beginning of the serious harvest. “After Lammas Day, corn ripens as much by night as by day.” See more about Lammas Day.
On August 17, Cat Nights Begin, harking back to a rather obscure Irish legend concerning witches; this bit of folklore also led to the idea that a cat has nine lives.
August’s zodiac signs are Leo (July 23–August 22) and Virgo (August 23–September 22). Find out your zodiac profile.
Recipes for the Season
See more summertime recipes at What’s in Season: Summer Recipes.
The summer and fall are also popular times for family gatherings. Visit our Family Reunion Planner for lots of great recipe ideas.
Seeds nearly ripe must be gathered from the birds, such as cabbage, fennel, lettuce, mustard, etc. See our page on seed-saving for more information.
Planting a second (or third) crop? Check our Succession Gardening chart for last planting dates.
Remember to plant your fall bulbs now: Growing Guide: Fall–Planted Bulbs
Cucumbers for pickling should now be gathered. Preserve the bounty of the season’s harvest by trying your hand at pickling and canning!
See how to store your fruits, vegetables, and herbs for the coming winter.
Planning on finishing up outdoor house projects before the summer ends? See our Home Improvement pages on painting, flooring, wallpapering, roofing, and more.
Bugs buggin’ you? Look to our natural remedies for insect bites and stings.
August is a wonderful month for star gazing! It’s also the month of the Perseid meteor shower. Thanks to a Moonless night this year, we should see the best meteors in years! See what’s up in the August sky.
Folklore for the Season
- As August, so February.
- Observe on what day in August the first heavy fog occurs, and expect a hard frost on the same day in October.
- If the first week of August is unusually warm, The winter will be white and long.
- So many August fogs, so many winter mists.
- When it rains
It raises honey
August Birth Flower
August’s birth flowers are the gladiolus and the poppy. The gladiolus means strength and sincerity. A red poppy symbolizes pleasure or consolation; scarlet, extravagance; white, sleep. Find out more about August’s birth flowers.
August’s birthstone is peridot, which is said to symbolize strength.
- August’s modern birthstone is the peridot, a gem form of the mineral olivine that appears in various shades of green, sometimes with a brown or yellow tinge. Called “evening emerald,” the peridot was often mistaken for that other gem. It symbolizes strength and was said to protect the wearer from nightmares.
- A previous birthstone for this month was sardonyx, which is characterized by alternating bands of sard and onyx, both forms of chalcedony. Although it can appear in several colors, it is usually reddish and white. It is thought to bring courage, happiness, and eloquence.
- Legend says that Queen Elizabeth I once gave the Earl of Essex a ring made of sardonyx, pledging her aid if he was ever in need. Later on, when accused of treason and scheduled for execution, he tried to send the ring to her but an enemy intercepted it. The queen learned of his plea only years later, after he had been beheaded.
This Month in History
August 19, 1812: An Ironclad Name
In August 1812, the United States was in a war with Britain that had started on June 18 of the same year. From the American perspective, the British had gone too far in blocking American trade with Britain’s enemy, France, and the Royal Navy had repeatedly impressed American sailors to serve on their ships. Also, the British were inciting Native American hostility as America attempted to expand its western territory.
The war was not going well for the Americans. The Royal Navy was nearly 60 times as large as the U.S. Navy, which was still in its infancy. Even though most British ships were engaged elsewhere, there were enough off American shores to pose a significant threat.
On August 19, Capt. Isaac Hull of the heavy frigate USS Constitution sighted the British frigate HMS Guerrière, Capt. James Dacres commanding, off the coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The two ships closed, and battle was engaged for about an hour and a half. An American sailor, seeing the Guerrière’s cannonballs bounce off his ship’s oak hull, cheered “Huzzah, her sides are made of iron!” The nickname “Old Ironsides” stuck, although the Constitution’s hull was sturdier due not to iron, but to the type of oak used and to the fact that the ship’s designer, Joshua Humphreys, had spaced the ribs closer than usual.
After trading several broadsides at close range, and suffering from collisions during the battle, Guerrière was dismasted; unable to maneuver, she surrendered. The Constitution had minimal damage. After the British sailors were transferred to the Constitution as prisoners, the unsalvageable Guerrière was set on fire and sunk.
When the Constitution crew returned to Boston on August 30, they were hailed as heroes for the much-welcomed victory over the mighty British Royal Navy.
Did You Know?
- One of six frigates ordered by President George Washington in 1794 to defend the merchant marine, the USS Constitution was officially launched on October 21, 1797. The three-masted ship measured 204 feet in length and 44 feet in beam and displaced 2,200 tons of water. It was rated as a 44-gun frigate, although it often carried more armament. The standard crew complement was 450.
- The USS Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960, it is now located in Boston Harbor, where many can tour its structure and absorb its rich history.