It’s been a wet and windy road so the garden is behind. Never fear, it has time to recover and there’s plenty to do.
What Vegetables to Grow In August
It’s time to pick everything you can as soon as it’s ripe. The more you pick the more will grow! Here are a few jobs to do:
Sweetcorn is a great veg to grow especially if you have children or grandchildren. They love the height and eating sweet, delicious yellow corns. Stake sweetcorn now if you haven’t done so as wind and rain can batter down the laden plants. Gently tying the stalk to a stake with garden twine will do the job.
I’ve covered the base of my sweetcorn with play bark to trap moisture and deter slugs – there’s been a plague of them this year.
Cordon tomatoes need pinching out – that’s the new growth in the ‘armpits’ as it were!
On cordons and bush tomatoes it’s best to remove leaves lower than the first fruits to help air circulation. Hopefully we’ll get enough sun to ripen them before autumn. Keep watering and feed once a week so the fruits swell up.
Runner beans or French beans are ready to harvest and will continue into September, so pick them and keep picking. Pinch off tops when they reach the top of your support stakes as this will encourage stems to grow side shoots lower down. Beans growing here are much easier to harvest.
You can pull a few carrots to see what’s happening. If you’re lucky you might get a ‘characterful carrot’ like mine! The wet spring weather put us back so carrots might still be a bit small. If they are too little leave them a few weeks before trying again.
Carrots need thinning so they have room to grow. Pull out the smaller plants and pop them on a salad. Try not to disturb the greenery too much as the scent attracts carrot fly that’ll lay eggs in the soil and eat your precious harvest.
My beetroot are so far behind, they’re about the size I’d expect for early June. My first seedlings were eaten by slugs in one night, so I had to start again and all the July rain left them soggy. Fingers crossed!
Thin out beetroot just as you would carrots. The little beets are also tasty on salads.
What to Do With Flowers in August
August is a great time of year for flowers, so much is blooming now. Keep on top of the deadheading for extra flower power.
Keep your roses happy with plenty of feed and mulch around the roots. Deadheading them will encourage more flowers. Here’s how:
This is Rosa Queen Elizabeth You can see three blooms and a round brown blob. This is the spent flower turning into a ‘hip’ – that’s the seed. Cut off the hips and any blooms past their best. This encourages new buds.
Perennial Plant Trims
Cut back any perennial plants that have finished flowering. Nepeta for example, some hardy geraniums, aquilegia, and lupins.
Trim them right down to the ground so other plants get plenty of air circulation and light. It also stops seed formation taking all the energy and produces a better flower display next year.
Lavender’s spent new growth can be trimmed back but leave the old wood as this doesn’t re-generate and leaves your plants looking a hacked about mess.
What Seeds To Plant in August
As well as all the deadheading and cutting back you could plant some marigold seed. These are a week in and yet to develop their true leaves. In another 3-4 weeks and they’ll be garden ready.
Marigolds are good for pollinators when the garden starts to run out of nectar-rich flowers in autumn – plus they are bright and cheerful and will last until the frosts arrive.
You could also sow wallflowers, sweet williams, and wildflower seeds. They won’t flower until next year but need to start growing now. Wildflowers can go straight into the soil but keep wallflowers and sweet williams under cover until spring when you can plant them out.
How to Care For Container Plants in August
Keep watering container plants. Even if it rains the water won’t get into the tubs so they are dependent on you. A good soak once a week is better than a dribble each day.
In very hot conditions you might have to soak them every few days and tomatoes or cucumber every day – same for hanging baskets!
Large spring flowering plants such as camelias need plenty of water now because they are starting to develop their buds. Some effort now will lead to a beautiful spring display that drags you from the winter doldrums.
If you’re going on holiday then containers pose a challenge. If you don’t have friendly neighbours to water them, collect your containers together and soak them thoroughly. Then put them in a shady area of your garden to conserve moisture while you’re away. Movable tomatoes can go in a tray of water (cat litter trays are handy).
How to Tend to Your Lawn And Hedges in August
Oh, the lawn! It looks lovely when it’s green and trimmed but it’s boring to maintain – or is that just me?
In August it’s a good idea to raise your mower blades if you can. This leaves more grass length and conserves moisture. If it’s hot, leave clippings on the lawn to prevent brown dried out patches. That’s it for August – just keep mowing.
Lots of us are pulling out hedge trimmers in August as the hedgerows are looking overgrown. Both evergreen and deciduous hedges need a maintenance prune in summer.
A hedge trimmer is best for tackling large areas. Start at the bottom, work upwards in long strokes. Cut the top last and take plenty of breaks.
How to Help Out Wildlife in August
There’s plenty of wildlife around in August and the lighter evenings mean you’ll have a chance to see some of the nocturnal types.
A great summertime spot are bats. They emerge at dusk to swoop around and catch juicy moths attracted to your security lights. Let your children stay up to bat watch – it’s a simple pleasure and one they’ll remember for years.
August is a busy month for the pollinators that are enjoying summer nectar. Attracting them into your garden is easy. Here are some never-fail pollinator attracting plants:
Ox Eye Daisies are loved by hoverflies. Achillea is also a big favourite along with asters. Hoverflies find it easy to access the flat open flower heads.
Purple Geranium Rozanne flowers for months and bees love it. It’s the RHS Plant of the Century and well worth buying.
Borage is an ugly-named wildflower that has beautiful blue star-shaped flowers and fills its nectar chambers every few minutes. It’s a bee food factory.
Tree Mallow grows two metres tall and bumblebees love the trumpet-shaped flowers.
Our bees are in decline so why not help them out with a bee hotel? Solitary bees lay larvae in the holes and seal up the front. I moved mine this year and it’s been popular.
Attach a bee hotel on a fence or wall that catches the early morning sun and put flowering plants nearby without blocking the entrance. Our stripy friends will find it soon enough!
Do wipe down the front each morning as spiders have a habit of draping their webs across the doorway.
And of course, August is the one of the dry months. Top up bird baths and ground bowls every day. Hedgehogs find it hard to get enough water in the hot months especially the hoglets.
How to Deal With Garden Pests in August
This year many councils are reporting an influx of rats. If this a problem for you, ensure there are no food scraps left out in your garden. Be very wary of traps and poisons as these can trap other wildlife such as hedgehogs. Call for professional advice if it’s getting out of hand.
If you have an open compost heap, think about buying a sealed one as this helps keep out rodents. I’d love a rotating composter – it’s on my Christmas list! Bring in bird feeders and stop throwing out scraps. If you suspect a rat nest beneath your decking or shed try flooding it with water. Rats like dry nests and will leave if they’re regularly flooded out.
And let’s not forget the never-ending aphids!
Greenfly, blackfly – they are all looking for juicy plant sap. Get rid of them with a pair of marigold gloves and soapy washing-up liquid. Just run your hands along the stems and they’re washed away.
You could encourage ladybird larvae too as these are ferocious predators of aphids. Ladybird larvae look nothing like a ladybird.
Ants will farm aphids for their honeydew (a pretty way of saying aphid poo!) If you see a line of ants marching up your apple tree or bean stalks it’s likely they have an aphid farm there.
Tending to Patios, Decks, and Garden Furniture in August
These jobs are time consuming, but they help protect woodwork against the onslaught of winter and an overwhelming job next spring.
A power washer is a good investment for car, deck, patio and garden furniture spruce ups. They’ve dropped in price over the past few years and are worth consideration.
And while we’re talking about garden furniture – I’m fed up with wooden benches that constantly need washing, sanding down, and oiling. I sold mine and bought rattan this year. It’s so much easier to hose down and it can stay outside all winter.
The Most Important Job in August?!
Enjoy the garden.
Sit back with a cup of tea and admire your hard work. Watch the bees, listen to the birds get the gazebo up and cook on the BBQ.
All too soon and we’re heading into Autumn so let’s make the most of the good weather now.
Becky Mathews is an enthusiastic gardener that shares her outdoor spaces with nature. Always happy with her hands in the soil, or rescuing wildlife in trouble, she enjoys writing about her environmental successes and failures