August has arrived, it is high summer and yet again we feel blessed if we are fortunate enough to have a garden! Right now, plants are flowering in abundance and the vegetable plot is in full production of tasty, healthy produce. So, let’s have a look at what we need to do to keep our garden looking fantastic!
The weather is often hot this month and lawn grasses can quickly become stressed. The answer, assuming waterboard restrictions allow, is to irrigate well and once a week until rain occurs.
During dry periods, raise the blades on the mower when cutting, as this too can stress the sward.
Two essential things that your vegetables need now to maximise taste and yield are water and feed. In the absence of any heavy downpours, you should be watering every day in hot weather. Use a high Potash liquid feed for tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers from when the first fruits form.
Early varieties of sweet corn should be ready for harvest. To check for ripeness, push a thumbnail into a seed. Production of white, milky liquid indicates the cob is ripe. Time too for lifting maincrop potatoes and early onions.
Remove the basal leaves of tomatoes to improve air circulation and stop the lead shoots of runner beans when they reach the top of their supports to encourage lateral shoots and increase yields’
There’s still time for sowing crops such as salad leaves, radish, winter lettuce, salad turnips, spring onions, Swiss chard and perpetual spinach are all candidates. You can plant early varieties of potato too in containers for fresh young tubers at Christmas!
Cut back some of your herbs to produce fresh growth for harvesting in late summer and freezing for winter use.
‘Dead head’ both annual and perennial flowering plants to ensure flowering as long as possible. Cut back fading perennial flower spikes. It’s especially important for lavender to keep the plants compact.
Divide early flowering perennials if they are too crowded, or if you require extra plants. You can also collect seed if required,
Think about your plants for next year. Try sowing winter flowering pansies or viola in trays and hardy annuals like clarkia and calendula for direct sowing. Try the new calendula ‘Bulls Eye’ producing double yellow flowers with a red centre in the early summer next year.
Talking of next year, its time too for thinking about buying bulbs for your spring schemes.
Remove excessive runners from established strawberry beds and plant new ‘virus-free’ plants to establish over the winter. Remember though do not plant in soil used for strawberries in the last 3-4 years to avoid virus and other pests and diseases.
Cut down the fruiting canes of early fruiting raspberries but leave the green shoots destined to become the fruiting canes for next year.
Begin to harvest early varieties of apples later in the month.
It’s important to net developing fruit if you do not want to share it with the birds!
Continue to prune early summer flowering shrubs and trim hedges for the last time this year.
Encourage further rose flowering by feeding with Sulphate of Potash.
Its important to water Camellias and Rhododendrons at this time to initiate the flowering buds for next year.
Remove surplus pondweed growth.
That’s it for this month, be sure to keep an eye out for our September blog – where we will talk you thorough the essential gardening tasks for another busy month in the garden!