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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.
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.
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.
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.
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 as soon as your strawberry runners have rooted (approx. 3 or 4 weeks after pegging them down).
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.
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.
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.
Keep feeding 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.
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):
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).
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!
I hope you will find the above information helpful.
I will be back next Friday at my usual time.
Thank you for reading my blog today.