Gardening Tips for August

Added: 23/07/14 : 14:07:12







August is usually one of the hottest months of the year - making watering essential. Try to use grey water wherever possible, especially as water butts may be running low if it has been a dry summer. August is traditionally holiday-time, so you might need to enlist the help of friends and family to look after the garden while you are away. When you are at home, take the time to prune summer-flowering shrubs.

Prune Wisteria
Don’t delay summer pruning restricted fruits
Deadhead flowering plants regularly
Watering! - particularly containers, and new plants, preferably with grey recycled water or stored rainwater
Collect seed from favourite plants
Harvest sweetcorn and other vegetables as they become ready
Continue cutting out old fruited canes on raspberries
Lift and pot up rooted strawberry runners
Keep ponds and water features topped up
Feed the soil with green manures



General tasks and garden maintenance

The most important thing this month is to enjoy your garden; heady scents, glorious colours, an abundance of fruits and vegetables and hopefully more sunshine. What could be more enjoyable and satisfying than surveying the results of your hard work throughout the year?

Watering
Remember to water and feed your plants regularly, especially those in hanging baskets, pots or containers as well as climbers and roses growing against a sunny wall. Many a plant will not recover from a drought, so water regularly and do not resort to feast and famine.

Water hydrangeas with hydrangea colourant for true blue hydrangeas next year.

If possible, set up an automatic watering system for your vegetable plot, borders and even containers. They are worth their weight in gold and can work on a sensor system that detects how dry the soil is. Once you have one you will wonder why you did not install one years ago. Going on holiday will no longer involve wondering if your precious plants will survive a dry spell or paying someone else to hold a hose!

If it stays warm and dry, water saving strategies include using bathwater and washing up water, provided they are neither too dirty or oily.

Keep your pond topped up, free of pond weed and clean - green algae can be toxic to pets.

Weeding

Boring but vital. Keep on top of weeds in borders, the vegetable garden and all your pots and containers. Little and often will reduce what will become a Herculean task if left to spiral out of control.

Weeds not only look messy but use valuable moisture in the ground. The best and easiest way to weed is to use a Dutch hoe which will cut the weeds just below the surface. Weeding on a sunny day will ensure weeds left on the surface dry out and die in the warmth.

August Gardeners Reap Rewards

Added: 23/07/14 : 14:11:54






In August flower gardeners reap rewards from the hard work they did in spring and can relax knowing that most of the ornamental garden work can be left until weather cools in September.

Even dead-heading flowers is an option. People who want a second crop of shrub and perennial flowers will get busy shearing back roses, buddleia, phloxes, lavenders, globe thistles, anchusa, penstemons, yarrows and toadflaxes But people who hope for rose hips or seed for future planting don’t even have to do that.

In August petunias often start to grow long and lanky. It’s fine to shorten them. They’ll be pathetic stumps at first, but before long they’ll be shooting back, budding and flowering.

Soon Autumn crocus (Colchicum) bulbs will be in nurseries. These aren’t cheap, but they’re such good value because they’re pest-free and spread and flower reliably in sun with very large pink-purple crocus-type blooms.

Gardeners who keep their garden mulched can relax the frequency of watering except for moisture-loving plants such as hellebores or mints. There’s no problem either in abandoning lawn watering for a couple of months. Lawns green up fast when rain arrives.

Any water saved from the lawn, will be needed in the vegetable garden because moisture is needed to help beans, zucchinis, squash and tomatoes root and leafy crops get larger. Any crop that’s partly self-pollinated, such as beans, will also benefit from a swoosh of the hose over the plants to get their pollen moving around.

Tomatoes grown under cover also need a good shake for pollination. These are greedy feeders and moisture lovers. So are squash. Bush squash need very rich nourishment especially if they’re in a big container – fish fertilizer, sea soil or a balanced (all numbers the same) organic fertilizer are all suitable.

Rural gardeners often have space for vining squash, which seek out their own food if allowed to run because auxiliary roots form on the wandering stems. The leaves are quite beautiful, like huge earthbound water lilies. Heirloom squash are often vining. Fruit of some kinds can be large and very heavy.

Garlic doesn’t need watering now, nor do shallots because both are in the run-up to harvesting. August is good timing to harvest these, especially before the stems dry and disappear. Invisible stems mean a few root clusters also vanish. In spring they reappear in inconvenient places.

With some crops, harvesting fits nicely with composting unusable plant bits. Every time a broad bean plant is stripped of its last beans, it’s easy to pull the plant and pile it ready for compost. If you’re armed with a pruner, the last crop of summer raspberries can dovetail with cutting fruited stems.

It’s not too late to sow seeds of a few things: arugula and corn salad are especially useful because they mature very fast and are fairly slug resistant. Green onions, radishes and spinach can also be sown now.