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Gardening Jobs Ė August

August is a month of plenty in the vegetable garden, and harvesting is the order of the day. All the summer vegetables will be in full flow by now, and youíre likely to have plenty of french beans, peas, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, courgette and runner beans. The vegetable patch will look very green, with mature plants covering most of the soil, and there will be lovely splashes of colour from the runner bean and courgette flowers. If the weather is very dry, donít forget to water your patch.

The Vegetable Patch in August

Keep picking your veg
Now is the time to eat plenty of veg, and youíll often find you have quite a selection to choose from! Peas, french beans, runner beans, carrots, beetroot, peas, mangetout, onions, potatoes, courgette, tomatoes, cucumbers, swiss chard, spinach should all be ready now. Pick your veg regularly to encourage the plants to produce even more. This is a great month for enjoying lovely fresh vegetables.

Water pots and containers daily
Keep pots well watered during this month. Temperatures are often quite high, and many plants in pots will need watering twice a day. If you are going away on holiday, move your pots to a shady area and ask a neighbour to water them 2 or 3 times a week.

Keep weeding
Weeding is a never ending task! If you keep on top of it, it doesnít have to be a big job. Use a hoe to displace the weed seedlings as they poke through the ground. Donít allow any weeds to flower and seed (no matter how pretty they are!). Youíll only have more trouble next year.

Pest watch
Be vigilant and keep a look out for pests. Stressed plants (from lack of water and producing lots of veg) are more vulnerable to attack by pests. If you see any, deal with them straight away before they can become established.

Harvest garlic and onions
Garlic, onions and shallots are ready for lifting when the leaves turn yellow and fall to the ground. Dry them in the sun before storing.
Tie up tomatoes
Cordon tomatoes will still be heading for the sky. Tie their stems to support stakes and nip out any sideshoots that appear. Nip out the growing shoots once they reach the top of the support if they are in the greenhouse, or once you have six trusses outside. Remove any lower leaves to allow air to circulate.

Tidy up any harvested crops
Once a plant has finished cropping, dig it up and remove any plant debris (such as fallen leaves). This will help to prevent a build up of pests and diseases and will also expose any weeds. Donít be too hasty though, some crops like french beans will often give a second smaller harvest.

Shake your sweetcorn
Once the flowers have opened at the top of your sweetcorn, give the plant a gentle shake to release the pollen and aid pollination.

Harvest ALL your potatoes
When you start digging up your potatoes, make sure you find them all, even the tiny ones! You donít want volunteer potatoes next year, and they might also harbour disease and potato blight spores.

Sow green manure
If you find yourself with some free space after harvesting, consider growing a green manure. They improve the soil and suppress weeds. Try mustard, alfalfa, buckwheat, clover, Hungarian grazing rye or phacelia.

Remove butterfly eggs and caterpillars from your brassicas
Check your brassicas regularly for butterfly eggs and caterpillars and remove any that you find. Donít leave them or theyíll quickly munch their way through your plants.

The Fruit Garden in August

Cut summer fruiting raspberry canes
Once your summer fruiting raspberries have finished cropping, cut the canes that have fruited down to soil level.

Tie in autumn fruiting raspberries
As your autumn fruiting raspberry canes grow, tie them to any supports and wires to stop them rocking about in the wind.

Plant new strawberry plants
To get the best strawberry crop, you need to replace your strawberry plants every 3 to 4 years. Now is the time to plant new strawberry plants ready for next year.

Take runners from your own strawberry plants
If your strawberry plants are disease free then propagate your own strawberries from the runners that your plants will be throwing out.
Tidy your strawberry bed
Once your strawberries have finished fruiting, remove any straw, old leaves and runners that you donít want.

Water blueberries and cranberries
Keep watering your blueberries and cranberries regularly with rainwater, especially if they are grown in pots. They are thirsty plants.

Support melons
Leave just four fruit on your melon plants, and support the swelling melons with old tights or netting.

Prune stone fruit trees
Immediately after harvest, prune your plum, damson, apricot, nectarine and peach trees. Also, prune your cherry trees if you have not already done so.

Thin grapes
Thin out grapes, removing about a quarter of grapes per bunch. This allows the ones that are left to grow larger and ripen better.

Hang wasp traps
Wasps can be a problem around apples, plums and grapes. Hang wasp traps nearby or on the branches.

Michael Gourlay Chairman

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