August this year feels very different to any other year. Covid has changed everything in recent months, but we’ve also had to deal with brutal heat. Plants that normally survive in semi shade have become scorched, blasted by just a couple of hours of ninety degree sunshine.
But back to the garden in August:
There are many lovely things happening, despite the heat. The dahlias are looking glorious and Pelargonium flowers are bursting forth.
Unless you want to save seeds for collection, flowers need dead-heading, encouraging more flowers to be produced. This seems to have been my mantra this summer, but it really works. A dash of tomato fertiliser in the watering-can, also encourages flowering, its the high potash that does it.
Keep the lawn a bit longer at the moment, short grass just becomes weak in the heat.
Although lawns are suffering, don’t waste water on them, they’ll recover at the first good rainfall.
Mulch around the base of plants, after rainfall, to keep water around the plant roots for longer.
Water plants in containers daily, and top up the soil level if it’s become compacted.
Vegetables to sow in the garden in August:
Such a joy to go into the garden each day and pick a warm, ripe tomato smelling of sunshine. Of course, it isn’t all successful, growing vegetables is just like that. Despite several attempts, none of my beans germinated. In other years I’d nip down to the garden centre for a few plants, but I avoided shops this year. So we’ve done without and it really hasn’t been that bad.
In between harvesting, there are a number of seeds that can be sown in August. After all, there’s plenty of growing time between now and the autumn, and well into winter for some vegetables.
Ideally sprinkle three or four seeds in each module. Keep them in a greenhouse or cold-frame until they germinate and a pair of leaves show, then plant them outside.
Oriental mustard seeds: Mizuna, Mustard Red Giant. They have a spicy, strong flavour and grow well through winter with a cloche over them when the weather gets cold.
For micro leaves that have a real hit of flavour despite their diminutive size, sow thickly in a shallow container:
You can get at least four servings before the plant gives up.
Gooseberries need summer pruning this month, as do fruit trees trained as espaliers etc.
How to help wildlife in the garden this month:
Keep water and bird baths nice and full.
Let some plants go to seed, lavender is a great food source for finches and many other birds.
I’ve become aware of rethinking planting, perhaps only tougher plants will cope with sunshine this hot? It certainly feels like the need to take action on climate change, has become even more important.
Keep well and enjoy sowing some seeds.
all photos: Jill Anderson