Dig it with Fulke Andel

GARDENING ADVICE FOR THE NEW (AND NOT SO NEW) GARDENER

dig it pic 1Apart from that nice spell in July, this summer hasn’t as yet settled down. Too much rain, combined with seasonally low temperatures mean that everything is ‘running late’. Hopefully, August will see an improvement and we can prepare ourselves for a glut of flowers and vegetables.

So now you’ve worked hard for months, the most important thing to do during August is to enjoy your garden; (weather permitting!) heady scents, glorious colours, an abundance of fruits and vegetables and hopefully more sunshine than you can shake a stick at. What could be more enjoyable and satisfying than surveying the results of your hard work throughout the year?

Right, enough sitting down and doing nothing, boring though it may seem, once you’ve had your 5 mins of rest, it’s time to get the hoe out and give the weeds another trouncing! A little and often is far less work than leaving the weeds get a hold.

If you have plants that overhang your lawn such as lavender, they can easily get chewed up by your lawn-mower as you cut the grass. To avoid this, use a combination of a bean pole and garden fork to lift the plant out of the way as you cut the grass – easy and effective.

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 and don’t forget our feathered friends – ensure bird baths are kept full of fresh clean water.

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 the weather becomes warm and dry, water saving strategies include using bathwater and washing up water, provided they are neither too dirty nor oily. Keep your pond topped up, free of pond weed and clean – green algae can be toxic to pets.
Towards the end of August sow hardy annuals directly into borders. They will overwinter and flower next summer. Cutting back the foliage and stems of herbaceous plants that have already died back (e.g. Dicentra) is starting to be a priority.

Don’t neglect hanging baskets – deadheading, watering and feeding will help them last through until autumn. Deadhead plants such as dahlia, roses and penstemon and bedding to prolong the display colour well into early autumn.

Don’t cut off the flowerheads of ornamental grasses. These will provide winter interest.

Hardy geraniums can be cut back a little to remove tired leaves and encourage a new flush of growth.

Prune climbing and rambling roses that do not repeat flower or produce attractive hips, once the flowers have finished.

 

Jobs for the Month of August

SOW/PLANT

Spring cabbage

Chinese cabbage

Kohlrabi

Spinach

Turnips

Lettuce

PLANT OUT

Cabbages and cauliflowers

HARVEST

Most vegetables should be coming on stream, so you could be enjoying:-

Broad beans

French beans

Runner beans

Cabbage

Carrots

Cauliflower

Celery

Courgettes

Cucumbers

Kale

Kohlrabi

Lettuce

Onions

Spring onions

Peas

Early potatoes

Radish

Spinach

Sweetcorn

Tomatoes

Turnips

FRUIT

Many fruits are ready to harvest or swelling. Swelling fruit requires a lot of water so ensure they have enough.

Watch out for over-laden plums and damsons. If needed you can support branches by inserting a length of 2×1 timber, notched at the top (like an old fashioned line prop) to support the branch or tie to the stem with robust twine.

Protect autumn raspberries now with netting from the birds before the fruits arrive and the birds eat the lot.

GENERAL

Prune wisteria

Don’t delay summer pruning of restricted fruit trees

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

READERS TIPS

Pinch out the top of your sweet pea plants when they reach the top of their support. This, along with regular cutting of flowers will ensure a longer period of flowering.

 JC Gowerton

 

potato gratin

SEASONAL RECIPE

 

Rosemary Potatoes

With potatoes now plentiful from the garden and if, like me, you get bored with just boiled potatoes, here’s an easy recipe for Rosemary Potatoes:-

You will need new potatoes, rosemary sprigs, olive oil, sea-salt and a red onion. Quantities will depend on how many people you’re feeding. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, thinly slice the potatoes (use a mandolin if you have one – but watch your fingers!). When the water is boiling furiously, add the sliced potatoes. When the water starts to boil furiously again, drain the potatoes. Dice the onion and chop up the rosemary leaves. Mix the potatoes, onion, rosemary leaves and salt with a glug of olive oil in a large bowl. Do this in batches if you’re making a large quantity. Transfer to an oven proof dish and cook at 200 degrees for around 20 mins or until the top layer of potatoes have turned golden. A great accompaniment for lamb kebabs cooked on the BBQ

 

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