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What To Do In The Kitchen Garden In August

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Thank you for your time.

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When I first started to grow vegetables I needed help to work out what I should be doing each month at my allotment.   I found that there was lots of bits of information scattered between internet sites and books and it used to take me a long time to find the information I actually needed.  I really needed it all to be in one place, so I could look it up easily, to establish what to do each month.

I therefore thought it would be useful to have this information altogether in one place. So for the benefit of UK gardeners, at the beginning of each month, I write a list of things to be done during the month and any useful information I can think of.

It is worth remembering that different parts of the UK have different weather conditions e.g. the last frost is expected earlier in the south than the north.

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August:

August is usually the month of plenty and you can come home with a good harvest at every trip to your plot.

The weather is usually very similar to July and if it has been wet in July then August will usually be wet too.  Though warm spells can be very hot and they often end in severe thunderstorms.

In hot periods plants will need watering and the RHS has written a very good guide to watering vegetables here.

Nights are also beginning to become longer and night temperatures will be lower.

Holidays are a problem in August as plants will usually need watering when you are away, especially in polytunnels and greenhouses, so it’s important you have someone to help you when you are away.

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Vegetables to harvest:  Runner beans, french beans, cabbages, curly kale, courgettes and marrows, patty pans, spinach, swiss chard, cauliflowers, carrots, beetroot, sweetcorn, tomatoes, chillis, peppers, onions, potatoes, salad leaves and lettuces, radish, celery, cucumbers, spring onions, kohl rabi’s, globe artichokes, aubergines, swedes, turnips and the last of your peas, broad beans, garlic and shallots.

Herbs to harvest:  Parsley, basil, mint, chives, coriander, lavender, borage.

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Fruit to harvest:   Plums, greengage and yellowgage peaches if you have them, tayberries, blueberries, late season cherries, the first blackberries, autumn raspberries, early apples and some pears and the last of your currants.

Blackberries

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Vegetables and salads to sow:

Turnips, swiss chard, perpetual spinach, winter radish, kohl rabi, Japanese onions, spring cabbage, carrots, chicory, lettuces and salad leaves, rocket, spring onions.

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Things to plant:

Transplant your winter/spring cauliflowers into their final positions, plant new strawberry plants as soon as your strawberry runners have rooted (approx. 3 or 4 weeks after pegging them down).

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Jobs to do in August:

Harvest crops regularly from your plot, especially runner beans, french beans and courgettes, which are notorious for growing at an amazing speed.

Hoe weekly, as this keeps all the weeds down as it stops weed seeds from becoming established and will weaken perennial weeds too.

Dig up potatoes when they are ready and leave to dry for a couple of hours, ready to store them for the winter.

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Spread homemade compost around plants whilst the soil is moist, this will stop weed seeds germinating and it will also keep the moisture in.

Dry out garlic, onions and any remaining shallots by either lifting them and laying them in the sun or by spreading them out onto wire racks to dry.

My garlic drying

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Pinch out the top of climbing french beans and runner beans, as this prevents them becoming top heavy and helps the plants bush out below.

Water bean plants regularly in dry weather.

Pinch off the top of outdoor tomatoes once four or five trusses have developed as this will concentrate the plants energy into producing the fruit below.  Continue to nip off the side shoots that keep appearing between the main stem and leaf stems.  Keep feeding weekly and checking for blight.

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Continue tying up tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers as the fruits can become heavy as they develop.

Earth up and support spring broccoli and brussels as they grow to help support them during winter winds.

Sow green manures as beds become empty.

Keep feeding pumpkins and squashes.

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Keep propagating strawberries from runners.

Summer prune gooseberries and currants once all the fruit has been picked.

Prune summer fruiting raspberries by cutting all the canes that had fruit on this year.  Tie in all the new canes.

Continue to tie in non-fruiting blackberries canes.

Prop up branches of fruit trees that are being weighed down by fruit.

Summer prune espaliers, cordons and other fan trained fruit trees.

Continue pruning the side shoots of grapevines and removing some of the foliage so the fruit can ripen in the sun.

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August’s Pests And Diseases:

Carrot flies are laying their eggs again this month.  Protect with fleece or environmesh.

Be vigilant and pick off caterpillars on brassica leaves if you find them.

Slugs and snails are still a nuisance so they still need controlling in whatever method you choose.

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Powdery mildews can be a problem in dry, warm summers and can be found on peas, courgettes, squashes and cucumbers.  Make sure you water regularly to avoid this.  A fungicide spray may help but as an organic gardener I choose not to use this.

Check for blackfly on runner beans, french beans, globe artichokes, etc.  I choose to rub them off between my finger and thumb, but if you are a bit squeamish use a soft soap.

Remove fruit infected by brown rot on apples, pears, plums and quinces and destroy it.

Watch out for the first signs of blight on your tomatoes and potatoes (see the photos below):

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Water tomatoes regularly so they don’t succumb to blossom end rot or splitting.  Ensure you water them at the base of the plant to avoid ‘ghost spot’ (pale rings on their skins that sometimes turn yellow or orange, (though the fruit can still be eaten).

A tomato with ‘Ghost Spot’

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Above all else, don’t forget to sit back and enjoy the produce you have worked hard to grow and give yourself a pat on the back!

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I hope you will find the above information helpful.

I will be back next Friday at my usual time.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

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Completing Planting And A Bumper Harvest

I have so much to write about today, as I have been working so hard at my allotment this week.  I wanted to finish planting all my crops before the long school holidays begin, in exactly one weeks time.  The schools here in Leicestershire break up earlier than the rest of the country.

I started by planted some more perpetual spinach:

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….And some more spring onions.  I sow my spring onions in modules as I always had a very bad germination rate when I sowed them straight into the ground (though I don’t know why as they are supposed to be an easy plant to grow).  By sowing a few seeds in each module, I find it almost guarantees a high germination rate.  I don’t thin the spring onions either, I just plant them as they are when they are ready:

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In the right hand photograph above, you can just see the newly planted spring onions and you can see the ones I planted out three or four weeks ago growing nicely behind.

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I also planted out my spring broccoli, curly kale and some more khol rabi.  All of the brassicas were planted in firm soil which I had dug and manured last autumn.  I also walked over the area before planting.

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As the ground was dry when I planted the brassicas out, I dug a hole for each plant and filled it with water.  When the water had drained away, I then planted them.  This allows the water to go deep into the ground to encourage the roots to also grow deep to find the water.  It also helps to stop the water from evaporating quickly after planting.

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I also planted some quick growing turnips too, but you may have to enlarge the photograph below to see them:

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All my brassicas have nets over, to stop the dreaded pigeons eating them.

While I was working in my brassica patch, I removed any yellowing leaves from my remaining spring cabbages. This will help to stop the build up of any pests or diseases lurking in them.  These cabbages were planted a month after my first spring cabbages and they are now starting to heart up nicely, so I will start to use these now.

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I have now officially ran out of room in my brassica beds and so I can finally say I have finished my summer brassica planting:

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This week I cut my comfrey down.  I prefer to cut my comfrey down before it flowers, but I just wasn’t quick enough this month.  If you have been reading regularly, you will know that I have already made comfrey tea this year (which incidentally is a wonderful high potash fertiliser used for all fruit and flowers e.g. it is a great tomato feed).  You can read how to make comfrey tea here.

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I have also added a vast amount of comfrey to my compost bins already this year.  So when I cut it down at this time of the year, I lay it down between my main crop potatoes instead.  This acts as a mulch to help to stop water evapourating from the ground and also helps to stop annual weeds from germinating.  When the comfrey breaks down, I just dig it into the ground to add nutrients to the soil.

I think comfrey is a wonderful plant!

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This week  I also cleared my old perpetual spinach that had ran to seed and planted my french beans in it’s place:

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I cleared my broad beans in my polytunnel that had finished producing beans:

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And I cleared my poached egg plants that had finally finished flowering either side of my path.  I transplanted some self seeded calendula plants in it’s place, though it looks quite bare at the moment it will soon grow and look pretty and be a bonus for the bees:

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Another thing I have started to do is to ‘nip’ the tops of my runnerbeans off as they reach the top of their supports.  This helps the plants to ‘bush out’ further down and produce more beans:

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This week’s harvest:

Plants have been growing slowly due to the cold spring we have had.  However, the plants are finally now producing and I seem to be having a bumper harvest.

I’ve started to pick my outdoor broadbeans this week and I have needed to pick them every other day:

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I have found my peas are just great, even though they a month behind.  My back has ached just picking them:

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So too is the mangetout (even though some are a little larger than I would have liked, as I didn’t notice they were ready):

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My potatoes taste delicious (especially with a knob of butter) and we are eating lots of lettuces, watercress and spring onions….I love summer so much.

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And my strawberries…well what can I say other than it really is a bumper crop and I’m picking carrier bags full every two days:

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Of course the down side is that I had to defrost my freezer ready for all the fruit and vegetables that I have been bringing home….

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.,….but it will be worth it when we are still tasting ‘summer’ in the long cold winter months.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday with some Jam making tips.

Hope you have a good weekend.

Things to do in the kitchen garden in August

I was asked at the weekend, how to leave comments on my blog.  This was something that also used to puzzle me, until I set this blog up recently.

It really is easy and I so love to hear your thoughts or questions on what I have been writing about or what you would like me to write about.

All you need to do is go down to the bottom of the post and you will see the words ‘comment’.  Click on this and enter your name and email address.  Your email address will not appear anywhere on my blog, so no one else will see it, except me and I will respect your privacy.  If you have a web address or blog name, then this can also be written in, but this is optional.

After you have ‘entered’ the information, it may take a little while for your comment to appear, as I need to approve it first to stop any ‘spam’ comments, which I get frequently.

It’s as simple as that.

I would love to here from you all.

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What to do in the kitchen garden in August?

When I first started to grow vegetables I really needed this information to be in one place, so I could look it up easily. However, I found I had to search for lots of little bits of information, scattered between internet sites and books.  It used to take me a long time to find the information I needed.

I thought it would be useful to have this information altogether in one place.  So for the benefit of my UK gardeners, for the next twelve months, I will write a list of things to be done during the month and any useful information I can think of.

It is worth remembering that different parts of the UK have different weather conditions e.g. the last frost is expected earlier in the south than the north.  Therefore, this is a general guide.

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August:

This year (2012) has been a particularly wet year and some crops are approximately one month behind.  However, I will write this as though this is a normal year, so it can be referred back to in years to come.

August is usually the month of plenty.  You should come home with a good harvest at every trip to your plot.

Holidays are a problem in August as plants will usually need watering when you are away, especially in polytunnels and greenhouses.

Vegetables to harvest:  Runner beans, French beans, cabbages, curly kale, courgettes and marrows, patty pans, spinach, Swiss chard, cauliflowers, carrots, beetroot, sweetcorn, tomatoes, chilli’s, peppers, onions, potatoes, salad leaves and lettuces, radish, celery, cucumbers, spring onions, kohl rabi’s, globe artichokes, aubergines, swedes, turnips and the last of your peas, broad beans, garlic and shallots.

Herbs to harvest:  Parsley, basil, mint, chives, coriander, lavender, borage

Fruit to harvest:   Plums, greengages and yellowgages, peaches if you have them, tayberries, blueberries, late season cherries, the first blackberries, autumn raspberries, early apples and some pears and the last of your currants.

Blackberries

Vegetables and salads to sow:  Turnips, Swiss chard, perpetual spinach, winter radish, kohl rabi, Japanese onions, spring cabbage, carrots, chicory, lettuces and salad leaves, rocket, spring onions.

Things to plant:  Transplant your winter/spring cauliflowers into their final positions, plant new strawberry plants or as soon as your strawberry runners have rooted (approx. 3 or 4 weeks after pegging them down).

Jobs to do:

  • Harvest crops regularly from your plot, especially runner beans, French beans, and courgettes which are notorious for growing at an amazing speed.
  • Hoe weekly, as this keeps all the weeds down as it stops weed seeds from becoming established and will weaken perennial weeds too.
  • Spread homemade compost around plants whilst the soil is moist, this will stop weeds seeds germinating and it will also keep the moisture in.
  • Dry out garlic, onions and any remaining shallots by either lifting them and laying them in the sun or by spreading them out onto wire racks to dry.

My shallots drying

  • Pinch out the top of climbing French beans and runner beans, as this prevents them becoming top heavy and helps the plants bush out below.
  • Water bean plants regularly in dry weather.
  • Pinch off the top of outdoor tomatoes once four or five trusses have developed as this will concentrate the plants energy into producing the fruit below.  Continue to nip off the side shoots that keep appearing between the main stem and leaf stems.  Keep feeding weekly and checking for blight.
  • Continue tying up tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers as the fruits can become heavy as they develop.
  • Earth up and support spring broccoli and brussels as they grow to help support them during winter winds.
  • Sow green manures as beds become empty.
  • Feed pumpkins and squashes.
  • Keep propagating strawberries from runners.
  • Summer prune gooseberries and currants once all the fruit has been picked.
  • Prune summer fruiting raspberries by cutting all the canes that had fruit on this year.  Tie in all the new canes.
  • Continue to tie in non-fruiting blackberries canes.
  • Prop up branches of fruit trees that are being weighed down by fruit.
  • Summer prune espaliers, cordons and other fan trained fruit trees.
  • Continue pruning the side shoots of grapevines and removing some of the foliage so the fruit can ripen in the sun.

August’s pests and diseases:

  • Carrot flies are laying their eggs again this month.  Protect with fleece or environmesh.
  • Be vigilant and pick off caterpillars on brassica leaves if you find them.
  • Slugs and snails are still a nuisance so they still need controlling in whatever method you choose.

A big fat slug eating my pumpkin

  • Powdery mildews can be a problem in dry, warm summers and can be found on peas, courgettes, squashes and cucumbers.  Make sure you water regularly.  A fungicide spray may help but as an organic gardener I choose not to use this.
  • Check for blackfly on runner beans, french beans, globe artichokes etc.  I choose to rub them off between my finger and thumb, but if you are a bit squeamish use a soft soap.
  • Watch out for late blight on your tomatoes and potatoes.

‘Blight’ on my tomatoes

  • Water tomatoes regularly so they don’t succumb to blossom end rot or splitting.  Ensure you water them at the base of the plant to avoid ‘ghost spot’ (pale rings on their skins that sometimes turn yellow or orange, though the fruit can still be eaten).

A tomato with ‘Ghost Spot’

  • Remove fruit infected by brown rot on apples, pears, plums and quinces and destroy it.

I hope the above information will be helpful.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

Flowers from my wildflower area