After months of working hard in the garden to get things to grow, August is the month when quite a bit of effort has to be put into stopping plants from growing too much. The real answer to what to do in the garden in August is to mainly curb its’ enthusiasm.
Our mission is for the garden to grow in way that suits us. This means not too much leafy growth, but, in the case of Dahlias for example, to produce masses of flowers. In the case of runner beans its to actually produce beans & not lots of leafy growth.
Heres a few tips to help you with your mission this month:
Pinch out the tips of climbing beans, this will need to be repeated at intervals. This helps prevent them from putting most of their energy into growing leaves & diverts it into growing beans.
Make the most of what you can still sow:
Main crop carrots, these can stay in the ground till you need them.
Spring cabbages for next year. Sow a couple of seeds, 30-45 cms apart & pull out the weakest one when they’ve developed into small seedlings.You can also sow a few backups in module pots & keep them outside. Cover with fine insect proof netting to keep away cabbage white butterflies.
If you’re away on holiday this month, get someone to water your garden, encouraging them with the ripe bounty of flowers & vegetables.
Do give them instructions so they don’t waste their time, energy & most importantly valuable water on plants that don’t need it.
There’s no need to water everything, especially if it’s rained recently.
Water plants in containers, exuberant foliage can prevent rain reaching the soil.
Water small leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach & chard.
Pick courgettes, beans, peas & spinach. Lettuce & spinach needs harvesting every couple of days & plenty of water to stop them from giving up & going to seed, which they’re very likely to do in hot, dry weather.
Tie in tomato plants as they grow & pinch out those small shoots between the main stem & the side-shoots.
Just before you go away:
Move pots of flowering plants into semi-shade.
Place a saucer, plate or whatever you have to hand under plant-pots ( I’ve got a small collection of charity shop dinner plates just for this) The collection of water in the soil gives plants more time to soak up water. Though best not do this for plants like succulents that prefer to be dry.
Ornamental plants & flowers:
Dead-head like crazy, to thwart plants from their main aim of making seed. Better still, pick flowers before they need dead-heading & if you have a surplus, give them to neighbours.
Take cuttings of Pelargonium plants.
Mulch around the base of shrubs, (best done when the soil is damp) this helps them to hang onto water & nutrients.
Don’t cut the lawn too short if the weather is hot & sunny, just raise the blades a little higher.
I think that’s enough to keep your garden looking lovely & being productive. The next post will be about how to take Pelargonium cuttings.
all photos: jill Anderson.