By the time August rolls around, it may seem like you’re able to switch to gardening autopilot, doing all the necessary watering, weeding, and picking without much thought. But really, there’s plenty you can (and probably should) do this month to make sure your garden is able to coast through the end of the summer and be ready for the beginning of fall. Here are five tasks gardeners should add to their August, regardless of planting zone and region, courtesy of Helen Greiner, the CEO of Tertill (a garden-weeding robot)
1. Pull out the plants that are done for the season
Every plant has its own lifecycle, and if you have some in your garden that are past their prime—meaning they’re no longer producing fruit this season, or have been damaged by the heat, rain, disease, or critters—it’s time to evict them. “Be a little ruthless—especially if it frees up enough space for a second crop,” Greiner explains in a statement emailed to Lifehacker.
2. Fill in the holes
At this point, there are probably some parts of your garden that are looking kind of sparse—after all, you just removed a bunch of plants. To make up for that, and ensure that you’re using your garden space to its fullest potential, Greiner suggests planting some fast-growing crops in their place. “Some plants that can still be planted during the late summer months are spinach, radishes, lettuce, and arugula,” she says.
3. SOS (save outstanding seeds)
Think back to your harvest this year. Were there any fruits or veggies that were tastier than usual? If so, save their seeds so you can plant them next year. Actually, according to Greiner, many types of seeds can last between two and five years, depending on how you store them.
“For best results, place the seeds in glass jars with a desiccant and store them in your refrigerator,” she explains. “If you don’t have extra space in your fridge, you can also put the seeds in glass jars and store them in shoeboxes in the coolest, driest place in your home.”
4. Pick new flowers growing on fruits and vegetables
As the season comes to a close, Greiner recommends removing any new flowers sprouting from plants like melons, pumpkins, and tomatoes. “This will make the plant concentrate on the fruit it has already set, making them bigger and better,” she says. And, as a bonus, certain vegetable blossoms—like the ones that grow on squash—are edible.
5. Keep an eye out for diseases
If you live in an area that gets particularly hot and humid during the month of August, Greiner says that it’s a good idea to be watchful of signs of potential disease. That’s because fungal diseases like powdery mildew love the steamy and sticky weather.
“To prevent this, cut off the diseased leaves and do not put them in your compost heap if you have one,” she explains. “Wipe down the pruning shears and wash your gloves to keep any disease from spreading. It is also in your garden’s best interest to not plant the same vegetable in the same spot next year.”