Keep The Garden Growing in August
As the summer moves on, August is as busy as ever in the garden to keep it at its best as autumn approaches. Many plants are still very vigorous, but you can give others an extra burst of life with the right care.
Here are the main jobs for August that will keep your garden in tiptop condition:
It’s been a bit of a wet year so far, but container plants and hanging baskets still need tending to by hand. Rainwater will often simply run off trailing foliage or densely packed flower petals and not penetrate through to the soil. So water often and feed on a fortnightly basis to keep container plants healthy and pretty.
August is also a popular holiday time, so if you’re going away for a couple of weeks, ask someone to pop along and water the garden for you when it’s dry.
Many garden plants are going over now, but that doesn’t mean their days of productivity are finished. Collecting seeds from favourite plants means you have a ready stock for next year, saving money and helping get your garden off to an early start as the seasons roll round again. It also means you don’t have to spend on existing favourites, so you have more cash to splash on new varieties.
There is usually plenty of harvesting to do in August. Continue to pick ripening fruits and veg as they’re ready. If you have a glut, try storing them in sand filled pallets or boxes, freezing them (especially good for fruits you intend using for homemade jam), or even giving them as gifts to friends and neighbours.
As strawberry plants put out new runners, these take root and will form new strawberry plants. Now’s the time to lift those that have successfully rooted, potting them up and taking them into the greenhouse to protect them over winter.
Soil Feeding, Compost, and Green Manures
Soil has worked hard over the past few months, providing plants with much-needed nourishment. If you have bare spaces where plants used to be, try planting green manures such as crimson clover or Italian ryegrass. Both are good soil improvers, provide cover for patches of bare soil and can be dug in later to provide vital nutrients. They’ll also improve the texture of soil.
Control Pests and Other Problems
Plants are more susceptible to problems as they mature, so keep an eye out for such things as:
• Blossom end rot on tomatoes
• Potato blight
• Carrot fly
• Brown rot on tree fruit
• Mildew on grapes and melons
• Smut on sweetcorn cobs
Deal with problems as soon as you spot them to prevent them either worsening or spreading to nearby plants.
Stay on top of weeding. They tend to grow behind your back if you’re not watchful and can soon overwhelm flowerbeds. Use a Dutch hoe to cut off their stems just below the surface of the soil. If you do the weeding on a sunny day, the warmth from the sun will dry out and kill and weeds you leave on the surface of the soil.
Deadheading and Pruning
Remove spent flowers through August to encourage plants to put as much effort as possible into retaining those still blooming and possibly even growing new ones.
If you’re lucky enough to have Wisteria at home, now’s the time to prune it. It’s also necessary to carry on cutting out raspberry canes that have finished fruiting.
Stop feeding the lawn now. Growth naturally slows down as autumn approaches and encouraging too much growth at this time can leave lawns vulnerable to damage by autumn weather. For the same reason, raise the mower blades slightly to let the grass develop its own protection.