August Gardening Tips

Pots & Borders

 

    • Reliable hardy annuals and biennials can still be sown. Californian poppies [Escholscholzia] are so easy and should be sown directly into a well prepared seed bed in full sun where they are to flower. Brompton Stock, Forget-me-not and Sweet Williams are old favourites that are best sown in a row to be transplanted to the flower border in autumn. They will provide masses of colour in spring and early summer next year.
    • Take cuttings of Fuchsias, Pelargoniums and other tender plants now. Either use a half and half mix of Vermiculite and peat with the cut ends dipped in fresh hormone rooting powder and the top covered with a thin clear polythene bag (leave pelargoniums uncovered). Select healthy shoot tips [preferably without flowers] and root them on your window sill.
    • Keep the show going in your pots and baskets by increasing feeds of Miracle Gro or Phostrogen and regularly removing fading flowers [don’t let them set seeds!]

 

Trees, Shrubs, Roses, Conifers, etc.

 

    • Dead flowers, and a little bit of the stem below, should be trimmed off lavenders now. If they have become straggly and a harder pruning is needed, then this should be done in late spring.
    • Roses tend to succumb to attack from blackspot, mildew and rust at this end of the summer and you must not let down your guard against these diseases now! Regular spraying with Roseclear and removal and burning of badly infected leaves is the best way to stop these being carried over from this season to next.
    • Prune climbing and rambling roses now, (if not done last month).
    • Prune Wisteria now, (ask for our How to guide or download from the Guides section of our website).
    • Plant Hydrangeas. We have plenty to choose from grown in our nursery. Plant them in soils that stay moist or mulch generously.
    • If you want your blue hydrangeas to stay blue, use Vitax Hydrangea Colourant during the growing season.

 

Bulbs

 

    • The first of our spring flowering bulbs will be in soon, with most available by the end of the month.
    • Plant snowdrop bulbs just as soon as you can. They can be difficult to get going but by planting really early they establish much more readily. The longer they are out of the ground the more dormant they become and difficult to re-awaken.
    • Autumn flowering crocus should be planted as soon as possible, as they will flower this October. They flower before the leaves appear earning them the common name ‘Naked Ladies’
    • Our experience is that Narcissus and daffodils make better plants if planted really early because they start to form new roots straight away.
    • Hyacinths prepared for forcing are due in at the end of August. Get ready to pot some for inexpensive scented, Christmas gifts!

 

Greenhouse

 

    • Remove the leading shoot when your greenhouse tomatoes have set five trusses of fruit. This will encourage all the fruit to ripen before late autumn. Regular feeding with a tomato feed like Westlands Grow-Sure will help and also makes the fruit tastier!
    • Take cuttings of border pinks [Dianthus] this month. They root easily, even in a glass of water, and it is a plant that benefits from being regularly rejuvenated by replanting regularly.
    • Check greenhouses for whitefly. They are a little bigger than midges and will fly up in clouds if you disturb them. Hanging yellow sticky pads will trap lots of them but don’t use these if you have introduced or are encouraging natural predators to keep them under control for you. If you have to use chemicals Provado Ultimate Bug Killer is the best available. Always read the label and use chemicals with caution.

 

The Inside Garden

 

    • Mist over the tops of houseplants regularly especially if they are in a room with central heating.
    • Clean houseplant leaves with leaf shine. Dusty leaves will struggle in low light at this time of year and polished ones look so much better!
    • Group plants together, the display will look better, but more importantly, they grow better together as a group.
    • Feed indoor plants monthly; but make sure the root ball is wet first.
    • Water carefully; it is better to let plants dry out between waterings and then give a thorough soak than a small amount regularly.

 

Grow Your Own Food

 

    • Cabbage, Cauliflower, Sprouts and other Brassicas get a multitude of pests at this time of year. We have found that regular sprays of Garlic Barrier keeps them all away without making your vegetables taste like garlic!
    • Use Agralan Enviromesh to protect vegetable crops against flying pests, it is particularly effective against carrot, root fly, cabbage root fly and caterpillars.
    • Fill spaces in the veg patch by sowing quick maturing items such as Turnips or, better still, varieties that will provide tasty winter salads like American Land Cress, Corn Salad, Rocket, [Lamb’s Lettuce] and Radicchio. These are not hard to grow and will provide tasty nutritious homegrown salads in the middle of winter!
    • Prune fruit trees that have fruits containing stones rather than pips now. Plums, cherries, apricots, peaches and nectarines are best pruned during the summer when they are less likely to get infected with the incurable Silver Leaf disease. Immediately paint any large cuts [over 1″ diam.] with Arbrex Seal & Heal wound healing paint.
    • Sow seed of autumn onion [sometimes called Japanese onion] now for the earliest crop of next year.
    • Keep picking runner beans and courgettes regularly. If you don’t they will stop growing more. Both can be used to make excellent chutney or can be given to neighbours and friends.
    • Dig up your potatoes, dry and store undamaged tubers in a dark frost-free place for winter. Late maincrop and winter salad potatoes will need a little longer in the ground and may put on a lot of tuber growth in the next few weeks. First early and most second earlies will be ready to lift now.
    • Plant strawberry runners. Those planted now will produce the earliest crops next year.
    • Prune out the canes of summer fruiting raspberries that have finished cropping.
    • If your apples suffer from spots of corky dead tissue [bitter pit] use Calcium as a foliar feed to combat it. [Especially Egremont Russet, Ashmeads Kernel, James Grieve, and others]
    • Sow green manures in any gaps. This will improve your soil. We have a full range from Kings Seeds.

 

Lawns, Hedges, Paths and Drives

 

    • Check lawns for chafer grub damage now. Look for yellowing patches and, if pulled gently, areas will come away easily with little or no roots. Sometimes the first signs are magpies, jackdaws and especially badgers making holes to get at the fat white grubs. Control is with a non-chemical method that we can supply. This is a natural predator that you water on to control this pest in situ.
    • Cut the lawn edges regularly and this might be a good time to use an edging iron to straighten them out. The insertion of a plastic or metal edging strip will support the edges. If floppy plants make cutting close to the borders difficult, it could be worth laying a line of decorative paving for them to lie on. We also sell very effective plant supports.
    • Weeds on drives and paths may need treating again now. Use Weedol Pathclear or the new Bayer ‘Long Lasting Ground Clear’, which works for up to 3 – 6 months.
    • Let the grass on your lawn grow longer. This is not an excuse to mothball the mower until next spring but it is a good ploy to help it get through dry periods better without having to use as much water to keep it looking green. Raise the mower blades to about 2 inches and cut the lawn less often.
    • With all the recent wet weather again this year, poor drainage on the lawn may cause moss to grow. Treat with a good lawn moss killer such as Vitax Green Up Mossfree, additionally spike the lawn to ease compaction, fill the resulting holes with course sand or Cornish grit to aid drainage.

 

Bits & Pieces

 

    • Turn your compost heap over and water it thoroughly if it appears dry. The decomposition process can be accelerated by mixing in some “Garotta” Compost Activator as you do it. Cover the top with an old carpet to keep in the heat generated by all the useful micro-organisms that will be breaking your garden prunings down to form good garden compost to dig in the borders in autumn. Ask for our “Tips on Composting” handout at the till or visit our website to download a copy.
    • This is a good time to control vine weevil using either ‘Provado’ or a biological predator. Ask us for details.

 

Soils, Mulching, Weed Control, etc.

 

    • Creeping thistles, nettles and brambles can be controlled with SBK brushwood killer now.
    • It’s not too late to mulch your beds and borders to control weeds. Use chipped bark, Revive, mushroom compost or decorative gravel.

 

Ponds and Bog Plants

 

    • Thin out oxygenating weed, floating plants and plants growing on the pond margins now. Aim to have no more than half the water covered by plants. Don’t remove more, because fish and other pond wildlife will need the shade and shelter that these plants provide. Try to take out dead leaves of plants such as water lilies to avoid them rotting in the bottom of the pond.
    • Top up the water level if it gets low. Add ‘Agralan Citrox” to water features to keep the water clean.