August is often the summer month with a great deal of heat, so watering is essential, although there are exceptions, as we all know how much water has come from the skies in Britain for the last few weeks.
The harvest should still be producing, with vegetables and fruit for overwinter store. Cauliflowers, cucumbers, runner beans, carrots, celery, French and runner beans, peas, lettuce, spring onions, early potatoes, Spinach, turnips, radish, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, cabbage,courgettes.
When its the joyous time to harvest your potatoes take care to remove all the tubers.If you leave any in the ground, next year you will find that they have sprouted and become a weed which could then bring disease and blight. Fork over a few days after harvesting potatoes because more seem to miraculously appear.
If in the unfortunate circumstance, you find your potatoes struck by blight, remove the haulm, and get rid. If you then leave the potatoes in the soil for about a fortnight to prevent spores attacking the tubers.
Try harvesting early in the day, rinse the potatoes, and if you are lucky enough to get any sunshine whatsoever, let them sunbathe for about 24 hrs to dry and harden the skins.
Place potatoes into Hessian or paper sacks, and store in a cool ( don’t let any frost get to them during storage) If you find any damaged ones use these first, to prevent any rotting spreading to the rest of the crop.
If you get time, empty the potatoes out on a regular basis, probably every 2 weeks to make sure there are no gremlins lurking in the sack. Put a few slug pellets into the sack, as these little critters love to attack potatoes.
Spinach, Turnips, Radishes Spring Cabbage, Lettuce,(you can buy a winter hardy variety)
Once your potatoes are harvested, sow a green manure crop. Mustard is fast growing and is supposed to confuse the potato eel worm into breeding at the wrong time. But do not use if you suffer from club root.
Another fast growing crop you can use as a green manure is French beans.this plant produces a fair amount of leaf and stem plus the roots, as with all legumes, have nodules containing bacteria that fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. Free fertiliser as well as organic matter.
About green manure
Ideally your land needs to be free of crops for 6 weeks, or more, and they are particularly useful to vegetable gardeners and allotment holders. They are ideal when sown in the autumn to overwinter, when vegetable plots are generally empty.
The benefits are many. As they grow they form a green carpet that prevents weeds from growing and some have the ability to absorb nitrogen from the air, which is transferred to the roots and released when dug into the soil, giving a boost to the vegetables that follow. Growing a green manure in winter prevents soil from having nutrients washed away by rain or snow, and some varieties have a fibrous root system that helps to give the soil structure. Clover is a green manure that can be left to grow for a year – when it flowers it attracts bees and other pollinating insects.
- Remove all weeds, and dig over.
- Scatter seeds over the surface of the soil using around 50g of seed per square metre or following suppliers recommendations.
- Gently tap over the surface with the back of a spade. Water in well.
- Leave the green manure to decompose in the soil for up to four weeks before growing vegetables.
August planting includes, Spinach, Turnips, Radishes Spring Cabbage, Lettuce,(you can buy a winter hardy variety) Savoy Cabbages and Cauliflowers
Pinch out growing tips of Runner beans that have reached the top of their supports.
Sorry to keep reminding you of my most hated job, KEEP ON TOP OF THE WEEDS. Even if you can not see any weeds, hoeing actually kills tiny seedlings you have not noticed and helps to reduce moisture loss
Always pinch of sideshoots these take away the nutrients from your tomatoes. My tomato plants look like something from day of the triffids, with only the tomato bearing leaves left on. Water regularly (don’t laugh!!)and feed regularly.
Fruits should be ready, once again sorry to repeat myself, but ensure they stay well watered.
Prune fruit trees, after harvesting.
Plant new strawberry plants and pot up runners from established plants.
Pests are always a problem, either in your garden or allotment It is important to remember that if you are tempted to spray something to kill an insect or bacteria, it may be doing some damage to your crop. If you use a poison that kills on contact, you are killing hundreds of thousands of beneficial insects. Aphids and Blackfly are a particular problem. You can control them with pesticides or just wash them off many plants with a strong jet of water. My father swore that using a wash with soft soap will do no harm to the plants,particularly good for greenfly, and will reduce numbers.
Turn your compost to beak down. Water if dry as the microbes need some water but don’t make it absolutely sodden.
Keep an eye on your brassicas for butterfly eggs and caterpillars,usually to be found feeding from your dinners to come under the leaves, if you do not have many pests it may be easier just to pick them off.
What is a Brassica?
The term “brassica” covers a large group of plants that include radishes, turnips, rutabagas, cabbages, cauliflower, canola, rape and kale.