Summer continues in full swing and we hope you are getting time to sit out in and enjoy your gardens, even if you may need to take an umbrella with you at times in our neighbourhood (so much for the water preservation tips earlier in the summer)! Some jobs for August include:
• If you have a Wisteria, then now is the time to trim off the whippy new shoots, cutting back to 5 buds from the main stem to encourage flower buds for next season. Any low growing shoots which you don’t want can be cut right back to the main stem. The main trim for shape will be in winter.
• Once the bees have finished with them, Lavender and Hebes can be lightly trimmed to keep them tidy, Take off all the flower heads plus a little bit of the new wood. This helps to keep the shrub to shape and, in the case of lavender, can help to encourage bushy growth for next season’s flower stalks.
• If it stays dry, keep watering Camellias and Rhododendrons as this helps improve flower bud formation for next year. Use rain water if possible, as these plants prefer acid conditions and tap water tends to be alkaline. Alkaline conditions inhibit the take up of iron, so if your only option is to use tap water add some liquid feed that includes iron.
• In the kitchen garden, the main job is to keep picking and eating. Courgettes, beans, and salad leaves will all benefit from regular cropping. Some produce is ideal for freezing (especially beans), and if you have time then making soups for the freezer, preserves and pickles are a great way of getting a taste of your own produce in the dark winter months. Don’t forget that some vegetables can also be used to make cakes – two household favourites at the moment are beetroot and chocolate cake and Nigel Slater’s courgette cake.
• As some crops are finishing, it’s time to get others started. August is a good month for sowing spring cabbage, lettuce and other salad leaves, and oriental greens like Pak Choi
• It’s about this time of year when the bulb catalogues start to arrive. If you read our tips in February, then you will have made a note of the gaps you want to fill. Now’s the time to start planning and picking out your new spring bulbs for next year. You won’t need to get them in the ground until October (November for tulips), but it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead and get your order in.
• Grass still needs regular cutting at this time of year. However if the weather is dry, it doesn’t hurt to raise the blades of the mower a little to reduce stress and scorching of your lawn. You can take the blades lower again when our normal temperate weather patterns return. you may be tempted to drop the blades as weeds like clover start to appear, but scalping the lawn will only allow the weeds to out-compete the grass. Let the grass get a bit longer and it will start to win.
• If you are heading off on holiday, enlist the help of friends and neighbours to look after your plants while you are away, especially outdoor pots, which can dry out very quickly. Putting houseplants in a bathtub and using capillary matting can help to keep them watered.