What to do in August
It is holiday time… but not always for gardeners or plants! Watering, feeding and harvesting and sowing are my main priorities this month. So not busy at all! But there are rewards and my lily forest is giving me so much pleasure.
Photo: Triumphant lilies
Photo: My lily forest is pure joy for me.
My lilies have been stupendous this year and are in flower much later than last year. I feel it is down to the poor weather earlier in the so-called summer. The tree lilies are coming into their own now, and there seem not to be any sign of lily beetles. I think the wet did for them. One of the lilies – there are four bulbs in a container – has 25 buds, with only about four blooms fully open.
The harvest from potatoes grown in bags was not huge, but has been very interesting in terms of taste. Sarpo Mira, Charlotte, Blue Danube (wonderful colour skin and blue flowers), Pink Fir Apple, Rooster and Casablanca were the varieties in this first haul. I haven’t grown Pink Fir Apple for a while, and it was lovely to taste that nutty, almost spicy flavour again. I have to say I like them all as far as taste and texture are concerned. I will continue to harvest tubers this month. If the weather becomes damp and cool again blight may be a possibility. Check for wilting foliage and cut it off and burn. If this occurs I would lift my crop and store it.
Photo: Potato harvest
The beans are taking off now, the flowers are lovely and small beans are forming – I should have sufficient for a single portion soon! Beans need good water, so I have laid part of my drip irrigation system in at their roots, to ensure they get a regular supply of water, when the weather becomes reliably sunny. Courgettes and tomatoes (indoors and outdoors) need some sustained sunshine to flower and set fruit, but I am continuing to feed them.
I have harvested onions and garlic and they are drying, ready for storage. Harvest onions when the stems are dry and a bit papery, and soft neck garlic when the stems bend over. I have onions drying outside and the garlic indoors on a tray. If there is sunshine it is good to leave them outside, on a wire rack. If the weather is damp, then dry them off indoors.
I have started to sow the leaves that gave me so much flavour through the winter months. They are mainly Oriental leaves, including frilly red mustard and kales. Also sown are lettuce, curled parsley, chervil (well, I should say that the chervil has self-sown abundantly).
Next task is deadheading and cutting back, as well as staking tall clumps of perennials and dahlias in containers. I am cutting back the spent flowers of buddleja and later I will cut them back more severely. I am deadheading roses and also giving them a final application of fertiliser. It is time to trim back lavender bushes and I am also picking sweetpeas as if there was no tomorrow. As soon as you stop picking them, the flowers will set seed and there will be a reduced amount of blooms to pick for the vase.
Photo: Cut back spent flowerheads especially of buddleja, as the flowers turn a dull brown and are not so becoming.
Photo: Sweet peas for the vase.
Photo: The privet needs another trim!
This is the moment to cut hedges and to keep on weeding. My privet hedge seems to need a haircut fairly frequently, and I have also got to make sure that the soil beneath the hedge is weed-free.
Oh, and remember to water all plants in containers regularly.
Images and text copyright Barbara Segall 2012
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