Gardening in August

August is the month of plenty. Plenty to harvest and plenty to do and enjoy in the garden! It is also the month when many of us go away on holiday and watering can be a problem, as most plants need a steady, unbroken supply of water. If you have got our WaterMate system or Sprout mini greenhouse they will of course do this for you, otherwise make sure you keep on top of watering by asking for help when you’re away.

If you haven’t already….

  • Finish harvesting your broad beans and plan where to sow them again in the autumn! 
  • Dry out, also known as curing, your onions, garlic and shallots so that they store well for the winter.

What to do now….

  • Harvest your crops regularly when they are at their best as warm weather can make them grow too much or go to seed quickly. 
  • Prune summer raspberries when the last fruits have been picked. Cut the canes that have fruited to ground level and leave the new shoots for next year. The old canes are brown and woody at the base whilst the new canes are soft and green.  
  • Feed your cucumber plants to keep them cropping for longer. Also, remember to pick the fruits regularly so that the plant keeps on producing lots of fruit.  
  • Check your courgette plants often and pick the fruit when young. This will ensure that they keep on producing lots of courgettes!
  • Water your carrots in dry spells to keep the soil around the roots constantly moist. If the soil dries out, followed by rain, it can cause the roots to split. Also, if you have a problem with carrot flies keep your carrots meshed as the pesky little things lay eggs again in August and September. 
  • Pot up strawberry runners when the plants have finished producing fruit. Use the runners to make new plants. Also cut off the top foliage and any diseased leaves from established plants. 
  • Feed your halloween pumpkins and winter squashes and also keep them well watered so that they can swell. 
  • Mulch your beds with any left over rotted-down compost, preferably after rain to keep the moisture in the soil. 
  • Keep on working on reducing slug habitats in your garden, especially close to new sowings and seedlings. Tidy up, lift up stones, pieces of wood and keep grass short.
  • Keep earthing up potatoes to stop tubers going green. 
  • Support tall brassicas to stop them falling over in strong autumn winds. 
  • Make sure to keep everything growing in pots well watered and fed to get the most out of your plants. 
  • Feed tomatoes with a high potash feed to help fruit forming. 
  • Continue pruning side shoots and removing some of the foliage on your grape vines to help the fruit ripen. Also, look out for wasps eating the fruit.
  • Prop up heavily laden fruit trees to stop branches breaking.

Quick jobs 

Sometimes we only have five or ten minutes to spare but it is remarkable how much you can get done in those minutes! Also, imagine you did one of these jobs every day of the year. 365 small jobs creates miracles! 

  • Pick Dwarf French beans! They should produce plenty of thin pods at the moment and the more you pick the more they produce! This also ensures that the beans are young and tender. 
  • Sow lettuce! Keep sowing lettuce little and often to ensure a continuous supply of fresh salads through autumn and winter. If you have a Sprout mini greenhouse any variety will do for the winter but if you don’t, make sure you also sow winter varieties not to be without later on! 
  • Check on your brassicas! Remove any butterfly eggs and caterpillars before they munch on your plants. 
  • Mist your cucumber plants with cool water to deter red spider mites. 
  • Feed your tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers, melons and peppers. 
  • Check your potato and tomato plants for blight as often as you can. It starts with watery rots on the leaves that soon turn brown and spread over the foliage and stems. Remove any affected plants as soon as possible and discard the material.
  • As Cordon/Indeterminate tomato plants grow, tie the main stem at regular intervals to a cane for support and pinch out suckers/side shoots. Do this often as it very quickly turns into a big mess otherwise! 
  • In dry spells the weeds should grow slower but keep on top of it and weed when you have 5 min to spare. 
  • Watch out for pests. If spotted early it can prevent an out of control invasion. 
  • Tidy up your brassicas by removing the lower leaves when they start to look old and tired. It helps in preventing both slugs and disease! 
  • Go on a slug hunt! Look under things like pots, pieces of wood, clumps of soil and stones. Dispose of them and any eggs you find. One slug can lay 400 eggs so stop the exponential growth early! 
  • Move around your scarecrows so that birds don’t get used to them. 
  • Move your pots into the shade on very hot days. 

What should I be sowing this month?

This month we can sow spinach, beetroot, lettuce, salad leaves, carrots (summer/early varieties), land cress, coriander, radish, winter radish, salad onions, Japanese onions, turnip, chard, Chinese cabbage, spring cabbage, oriental leaves such as mizuna and mustards. 

What should I plant this month?

August is the month to plant out kale, calabrese, leeks, runner beans, lettuce, dwarf beans, courgettes, strawberry plants and runners.   

Time planting out with forecasted rain to save on water and help the plants establish. This is of course not always possible but avoid really hot or windy days. 

What should I harvest this month?

August tends to be one of the biggest harvesting months of the year!  We can harvest runner beans, dwarf beans, peas, potatoes, squash, summer cabbage, calabrese, kohlrabi, garlic, lettuce, radish, spring onions, chard, carrots, beetroot, courgette, turnips, all sorts of herbs, globe artichokes, gooseberries, black and red currants, late cherries, autumn raspberries, loganberries, apricots, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and cape gooseberries!! 

Gardening with children 

Gardening with children is wonderful and chaotic! It is the very best place for them to learn about and connect with nature, wildlife, biodiversity, sustainability and growing food. It is important to let them have a go and fail but it is also important to give them an opportunity to succeed! Here are some ideas that you can do with your children this month! 

  • Stack up fallen sticks in a corner of the garden to create a simple insect hotel. Talk about why we all need to help the tiny creatures!
  • Grab a pair of old wellies, adult or children size, and turn them into planters! Cut a few drainage holes low down in the side. It is easier than trying to cut through the sole. Put a bit of gravel in the boot to allow for good drainage and add compost almost to the top. Pop your plant in and fill up with compost around it. Any plant that can grow in a container is suitable for this cute upcycling project!