Jobs for August

All the hard work is starting to pay off, the vegetable garden is producing plenty to take back to the kitchen. Beans and courgettes will need picking daily; blanche and freeze beans to avoid a glut or waste, try to pick courgettes before they become too big and watery. As space becomes available, over wintering crops such as leek, kale and purple sprouting broccoli can be planted out.

runner beans

Some jobs for August:

  • Keep watering tomatoes (especially greenhouse varieties), pinch out side shoots as they appear and growing tips once 4 or 5 trusses have formed. Keep feeding. For ripening tomatoes, tie in main stems to extra canes to support heavy trusses.
  • Cut to the ground all the summer fruiting raspberry canes that have borne fruit, tie in the new green canes for next years fruit.
  • Pick courgette flowers for stuffing or frying
  • Keep sowing salad leaves, radish and lettuce
  • Sow or transplant spring cabbages
  • Plant out the last of kale and purple sprouting broccoli
  • Sow Pak Choi
  • Harvest main crop potatoes, keep earthing up rows to prevent tubers turning green
  • Earth up sweet corn and brassicas to prevent them toppling over
  • Keep cutting sweet pea flowers to bring indoors, remove seed pods to encourage more flowers
  • Ventilate the greenhouse
  • Water regularly
  • Harvest the last of the garlic, allow to dry before stringing
  • Harvest onions if ready, allow to dry before storing
  • Propagate strawberries by gently pushing rooted runners into the soil or small pots of soil. Sever the runner from the adult plant as the runners put on growth and develop a stronger root system.
  • For larger pumpkins, feed once a week with organic tomato feed, in damp weather lift fruits clear of the ground and place onto bricks or plastic trays to prevent rotting.
  • Pinch out the tops of climbing beans to prevent them becoming top-heavy and to encourage new growth lower down
  • Harvest regularly and enjoy!

August in the Garden Smallholding

August is the time to reap the rewards, a time when the garden really starts to give back what you so carefully and lovingly put into it, providing regular harvests of fresh fruit and veg, packed full of flavour. An array of crops are ready for harvest this month including sweet corn, golden-yellow cobs bursting with sweetness, a flavour so intense to rival any shop bought produce. Pick them and enjoy straight away, I guarantee you will always find the space to grow them year after year.

The fruit garden will spoil you for choice now too, jams, jellies and chutney are just crying out to be made, a great way to use up a glut of vegetables. Add apples or plums to chopped vegetables and make tasty combinations, a reminder for months to come of the wonderful produce your garden/allotment provided. August is a good month to plant a new strawberry patch using well-rooted runners, a great way to gain more strawberries for free. Perpetual strawberries will extend the picking season until the first frosts, sadly they don’t produce runners freely but it’s well worth buying plants to keep you picking strawberries much longer than usual. Autumn fruiting raspberries are kicking in now, big dark red (almost plum colour) berries are a welcome treat. The summer raspberries are still producing but are noticeably coming to an end.

The temperature has dropped quite a bit recently with a distinct autumn ‘nip’ to the air, leaves are beginning to fall from trees that have taken on a rusty autumn appearance already. I certainly think autumn is creeping up on us faster than usual. Even though I’m enjoying late summer flowers, the occasional warm day and mouth-watering fresh food, now is the time that I start to think about what I can plant or sow for the coming months ahead. Garlic can be planted out from October through to winter as long as the ground is workable, as well as autumn peas (under cloches) and broad beans. I’ve decided to sow Meteor, an autumn variety of pea in the greenhouse from October time, field mice are plenty here due to being surrounded by farmland – my peas don’t really stand a chance otherwise.

Our hens have been laying well considering they are quite old, well, in ex battery terms they are, we’ve had a steady supply of lovely eggs since early spring. Each morning for the past week the floor of the coops have been littered with feathers, a sign that moult has begun and laying will decline soon. Poultry spice added daily to the mash or pellet feed is really useful at this time of year, it helps birds get through the moult and gives them a bit of a boost during cold weather.

Don’t forget natures free kitchen cupboard, elderberries are ripe now and can be used for jelly and jam making, we’re lucky to have a free supply growing wild as well as uncultivated blackberries. Enjoy your August garden!