August gardening tips
Keep picking! This is a month of lush abundance - so do make the most of it. Pick vegetables when they are young - as they mature both flavour and texture become coarser and some plants, such as courgettes, actually respond to harvesting by producing more flowers and fruits right into the autumn.
Remember - keep weeding and watering. Weeds look unsightly and steal essential water from your plants. Tomatoes need consistent watering to avoid blossom end rot (dark patches on their bottom ends) and many vegetables will bolt if allowed to dry out. Damp down the greenhouse floor in the morning to create ideal humid growing conditions. Do not damp down in the evening.
Plant - quick maturing crops including lettuces (this is the last month for sowing salads outside), sorrel and rocket. Also plant onion sets and seeds such as Chinese cabbage, spring cabbage, endive (chicory), radish, fennel, turnips and winter spinach.
Harvest - EVERYTHING! Freeze if necessary or swap with others who are short of your crops and long on ones you haven't grown. Harvest onions, shallots and garlic when their necks collapse and turn brown and papery. Leave to dry until the tops rustle like brown paper before storing.
Continue to earth up celery, putting a layer of paper between the stems and the soil and raise marrows off the ground to prevent them rotting. 'Stop' outdoor tomatoes and remove side shoots from outdoor and greenhouse tomatoes as well as the lower leaves to allow light and air to get to the crop. Feed with a high potash fertiliser. If it is hot and humid beware potato blight; spray with a chemical fungicide if the weather looks ominous.
Harvest - blackberries, raspberries, loganberries, tayberries, nectarines, apricots, early apples and pears. You can tell when they are ripe if they come off the tree with an easy twist and there are a couple on the ground.
Prune - summer fruiting raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, and blackcurrants.
Plant - new strawberry plants and cut off the leaves of existing plants to within 3” of the crown. Burn the leaves and peg healthy looking runners so they root well.
Sow parsley for the winter, cut and freeze dry herbs and pot up chives and mint for the winter. Lift a clump, divide and pot using multi-purpose compost. Cut back old foliage, water well and wait for your winter crop to appear.