August gardening: Everything you need to know
Lazy days slumbering in the sun? Forget that – it's still busy when it comes to gardening.
Just when you thought it was safe to dust off the deckchair, slap on the sun cream or even dare to go away from the garden for a couple of weeks, August brings a lovely list of gardening tasks. It's a great time of year! Here're my tips for August gardening...
What can be grown in August
A lot of crops come to maturity now and need picking. Courgettes will quickly sell into marrows if you don't get them picked early, Carrots are at their tastiest if pulled earlier but do it on a still day. If it is windy the whiff of carrot foliage can still attract the next batch of carrot fly ( and they can sniff a juicy root from a couple of miles away)
It's also essential to keep a keen look out for aphids nibbling at your lettuce. Look under the leaves and either squash, wash off or treat as you feel fit.
You can also just about squeeze in short sowings of radish, cut and come again lettuce and spring onions. Sow lettuce in the cool evening periods as they germinate better in lower temperatures.
There's plenty looking good in the garden in August and a good way to keep it that way is to nip off any blooms as they fade. This prevents the plants from producing seed heads and encourages more blooms usually extending the flower span well into autumn.
Roses often have a new lease of life at this time of year and are a welcome addition to any shrubbery. Keep things watered and once the flowers fade, cut back the flower stalks and dead flowers ( unless you want colourful rose hips in autumn and winter – if so, leave them on for fruits)
Tasks to complete in the garden in August:
Lawns are still growing strong and may need mowing twice a week. It sounds like a lot of work but regular mowings encourage lots of stubby growth and that = a better-looking lawn. However, if it is a dry August it's best to leave the grass slightly longer as the leaf blades help protect the surface of the soil from the scorching sun. It means less drying out = a great looking lawn. If it is a dreadfully wet August and you can't get out to mow, a quick tidy up of the edges will make it all look neater.
Things hot up in a greenhouse at this time of year and keeping everything cool is of paramount importance. There are several ways to shade a greenhouse, the easiest being floating a few pieces of horticultural fleece over the glass ( it's also a good way to get it out of storage and checked over before you need it for winter protection) Secure with a couple of pins and hey presto – instant cooler conditions. Expensive but rather stylish are ready made blinds. Another quick tip is to spill some water on any hard surfaces in the greenhouse. It evaporates and reduces the stress on all plants.
Patio containers and hanging baskets:
Watering is the key to success as even on wet days, rain will not be reaching the compost in containers and hanging baskets stuffed with plants. There's possibly no other place in the garden where roots are packed into a small space other than a hanging basket. A decent sized basket needs a gallon of water a day. Every day. Of every week in August! A couple of other things whilst you are pottering about your pots – nip off fading flowers and every week, add a splash of general feed to the water. Those roots are extracting every last particle of nutrient from the exhausted compost and will respond by producing more flowers.
It can get hot and evaporation from ponds can leave fish gasping and plants under stress. Top up with rainwater collected in a water butt or at least a slow running hosepipe. If the level of the pond still goes down it might be worth checking for leaks and cracks in the liners.
You can rig up watering systems to water whilst you are away on holiday. Some even link up, via WiFi, to your phone so you can control things from your sun bed on the Med. Or even better, rope in a willing and able neighbour, leave a detailed list of frequency of watering and go away happy in the knowledge all will be OK when you get back (my plants actually look better after the neighbours have done their bit!)