Dig it

Gardening advice for the new (and not so new) gardener

It’s now that time of year; you’ve worked hard for months, so the most important thing to do during August is to enjoy your garden; heady scents, glorious colours, an abundance of fruits and vegetables and hopefully a continuation of the glorious sunshine we’ve been having. Even if it makes the weather charts look so boring.

What could be more enjoyable and satisfying than surveying the results of your hard work?

Right, enough sitting down and doing nothing. 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, it can easily get chewed up by your lawnmower 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 drought, so water regularly and do not resort to feast and famine.

Water hydrangeas (pic below) 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 flower heads 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 (pic left) 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 – pre-ferably 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

If possible, position your tubs directly underneath your hanging baskets, so that any overspill from watering the baskets doesn’t go to waste. CP Southgate 

Seasonal Recipe

Grilled Courgettes

If you grow your own courgettes, here’s a great recipe to use up some of the huge quantity you have by now and of course, it’s BBQ season to boot!

You will need: 3-4 large courgettes, thickly sliced lengthways, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, juice of 1 lemon (keep the skins), 1 tbsp chopped rosemary and 1 tbsp olive oil

Put all the ingredients (reserve the squeezed lemon halves for later) in a bowl with some seasoning and gently mix together, ensuring the courgettes get covered in the oily marinade. These can be marinating just while the barbecue gets hot, so around 30 minutes, or overnight in the fridge. To cook indoors, heat a griddle pan until hot.

Remove the courgettes from the marinade and grill for 4-6 minutes each side until browned all over and soft in the middle. Add the lemon halves to the BBQ at the same time, placed cut-side down on the grill. This will release more juice and give a lovely caramelised flavour. Serve the courgettes on a platter, season, and squeeze over the charred lemon halves to serve.

 

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