The last official month of summer is the perfect time to enjoy your garden while it’s still at its best. Children are on school holiday, lawns are in full use, and there’s plenty of delicious fruit and veg to fill your dinner plate.
August isn't the time to take your eye off the ball in the garden. Here are some of the main jobs:
- Top up ponds and bird baths regularly.
- Use a hedge trimmer to give your hedges a final trim before they stop growing.
- Water plants thoroughly when needed, instead of small amounts every day. Thorough watering supports plants for up to 14 days, while merely wetting the surface wastes water, encourages weeds and can lead to surface rooting making the plants more vulnerable.
- Prune all summer flowering shrubs once the blooms are finished.
- Keep on top of weeds as they compete with your plants for nutrients and water.
- Water evergreen shrubs like camellias and rhododendrons thoroughly this month to make sure that next year's buds develop well.
- Keep patio container plants well-watered and feed with a liquid fertiliser every fortnight.
- Dead-head annual bedding plants and perennials to encourage them to flower into the autumn and stop them self-seeding.
- Cut back faded perennials to keep borders tidy.
- Cut back herbs now to encourage a new flush of tasty leaves you can harvest before the frost.
- Trim any lavender plants after they've finished flowering to keep them compact.
The vegetable garden comes into its own in August, with plenty of delicious home grown produce to harvest. Here are some tasks to keep you busy this month:
- Apply a high-potash fertiliser such as tomato food once fruits start to form on peppers, cucumber and aubergine plants.
- Continue to feed tomato plants with tomato food and remove lower leaves to help with air circulation and prevent disease. Pinch out the top of tomato plants to concentrate the growth into the fruit that has already formed. Aim to leave 5 or 6 trusses of fruit per plant.
- Thin parsley to help it establish a good root system before winter. Leave 25cm between each plant.
- Pinch out the tips of your runner bean plants once they reach the top of their support. This encourages side-shooting and more beans at a manageable height for picking.
- Pinch out the growing tips of your aubergine plants once they have 5 or 6 fruits. Pick fruits while they’re young and shiny.
- Spring-sown carrots and beetroot will be ready to harvest now although they can be left in the ground to keep growing.
- Continue to harvest second early potatoes now — perfect for salads!
- Start harvesting your main crop potatoes as the leaves yellow and die back. Store your potatoes in hessian sacks which exclude light but allow ventilation.
- Lift and dry onions, shallots and garlic once the foliage has flopped over and yellowed. Store them in onion bags to prevent mould developing.
- Harvest French and runner beans little and often to prevent them from setting seed. Pick runner beans regularly to prevent them becoming stringy and to make room for developing pods. Leaving mature pods to set seed can prevent further flowers developing and reduce your crop.
- Keep harvesting courgettes before they become too big!
- Take cuttings of herbs such as rosemary, sage or mint now to bulk up supplies. Put cuttings in moist, well-drained potting compost (one part grit to one part compost) and place in a cold frame. Established clumps of chives can be divided now.
- Keep an eye out for potato and tomato blight and remove and destroy any affected plants immediately to prevent its spread.
- Check for cabbage white butterfly eggs under brassica and leafy green leaves and squash any that you find. Alternatively use nematodes to kill the caterpillars.
- Clear away any diseased and spent foliage around your veg plants to discourage pests and diseases spreading.