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In the Garden: August

August is here and if its anything like the heat we experienced in July then we could be thinking about water shortages again!

So what can we do? Well to begin with, practice ‘smart watering’ whilst you can still use the hosepipe (check with your local council for hosepipe bans). So don’t just spray around the garden in the evening, where water will quickly evaporate in the heat of the following day. Rather, take a section of the garden each evening and give it a good soaking. It will do far more good!

Make as much use of ‘grey’ water’ as you can, re-using water from that used in baths, showers and basins.

Mulching with bark and other materials can prevent the loss of water through evaporation too.

Gardeners though, are great at managing things like the vagaries of the UK climate, so let’s take a look at what needs doing in our August garden:

 


Lawns

Raise the mower blades a little in August to avoid stressing the grass in dry weather.

You can try leaving the cuttings on the lawn to form a moisture-retaining mulch.

Sowing a new lawn in autumn, or repairing the existing after summer ‘wear & tear?’ Time to prepare the soil to be ready. Dig and rake as necessary and hoe off any resulting weeds to prepare a clean seedbed. Autumn is actually the best time for success in this task

 

The Flower Garden

Hopefully your hanging baskets are looking good. They do need a lot of work now to keep at their best! Keep up with the watering and feeding if necessary and don’t forget ‘dead-heading’ faded blooms to prolong flowering in to the autumn.

In the flower borders, for both annuals and perennials, let some blooms go to seed, you can harvest the seed for sowing next year.

Cut back shoots that have already flowered to encourage new growth and possibly encourage further flowering.

 

Californian Poppys - sow now for next summer

 

Hot sunny weather has encouraged extra growth, so even if you applied fertilizer at the start of the season, plants may be looking a little sad. A few feeds with liquid tomato feed will provide a flowering ‘boost’ as autumn approaches.

Continue cutting flowers suitable for the house like Sweet peas and Dahlias. It will encourage further flowering! 

Want to create some early summer colour in the garden next year? Try sowing Cornflowers, Californian Poppy or Myosotis this August. They are perfectly hardy through the winter.

 


The Vegetable Plot

Crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and sweet corn will benefit from high potash liquid feeds to improve cropping potential.

When your tomato plants have formed 5-6 potential trusses of fruit, remove the growing tip. This will encourage existing fruit to grow and ripen. Remove basal leaves from plants to improve air circulation and deter fungal diseases.

Limit aubergines to 5-6 fruits per plant to encourage ripening.

Second early potato lifting should be completed now and it’s time to lift maincrop varieties as the foliage changes colour to yellow.

Keep on sowing quick growing crops like salad leaves, radishes, rocket, spinach and baby turnips. Time to sow spring cabbage too.

Plant up winter brassica plants for late winter/spring harvesting.

 


The Fruit Patch

August is a busy time harvesting so-called ‘top fruit’ such as plums, cherries, peaches and nectarines. Early apples too will be ready for picking.

Keep your fruiting soft-fruit bushes well-watered and use a liquid tomato fertilizer to give them a high potash feed.

You can cut down raspberry canes as soon as fruiting finishes. Blackcurrants too can be pruned at this time.

Propagate strawberries by pegging down strong growing runners to root and be separated later. (N.B. virus)

Plant new strawberry plants for fresh fruit next year.

 

Shrubs

Prune summer flowering shrubs when flowering is complete. It will encourage new shoots and keep the garden tidy.

Important to water camellias and rhododendron at this time as forming flowering buds for next year.

 

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