Andrew Tokely's Gardening Tips for August!
10 August 2022
August is harvest time, but there are still crops to sow, giving you an early harvest next year.
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1. This month I like to keep a check over any soft succulent leaves on my bedding plants for any signs of Caterpillar damage. Caterpillars can eat the leaves of Nasturtiums and Geraniums to shreds in about two days. Caterpillars love to feed on these leaves and can quickly spoil your plants. If seen in the early stages they can be picked off, and any eggs rubbed off the leaves. If however you get a bad attack, you may need to spray with a suitable insecticide.
2. If you have an old strawberry bed that needs regenerating or you want to increase the size of your strawberry bed next year, this is best done during early August. Your old established plants should be producing plenty of runners; these can be pegged down with a wire hoop into pots or trays. These will quickly root and then once rooted; they can be cut away from the mother plants ready for planting your new strawberry bed this autumn. Alternatively you can order new plants from our mail order website.
3. Fill any gaps on the vegetable plot with over winter Lettuce. From August through to October you can sow direct outside varieties like Arctic King and Winter Imperial. With a little winter cloche protection you will have tasty lettuces to cut early next year.
4. This month is the time to lift and store early and second early potatoes for future use. I always take my time to carefully fork out the tubers and dry them in the sun for about 1 hour, and then I put them into potato sacks. You can leave main crop potatoes for harvesting early next month. If you have cut the foliage down from your potatoes because they were affected by blight, do not lift the tubers for at least three weeks after cutting the foliage down. Otherwise the blight fungal spores could still affect the tubers you store as they are lifted through the soil and ruin your crop.
5. This month you can sow Spring cabbage like Wheelers Imperial, April or Spring Hero in a seed bed outside, then once plants are large enough these can be transplanted to a space on the veg plot. These will stand all winter and can be harvested either as spring greens or as full size heads early next year. You can also try Winter Green that will mature into tasty spring greens.
6. Often at this time of year many early flowering annuals and perennial plants start to look tired or have already finished flowering. I like to cut these back hard or sometimes remove them totally from the borders during this month. Then to ensure there is still colour in the garden, I stand some of my flowering patio containers in their place to fill the gaps and prolong my colourful display.
7. Sweet corn will be ready to harvest later this month. An easy way to check if it is ready to eat is when the Silks (tassels) turn brown and the cobs look swollen. Then pull back a little of the sheath around the cob, push your fingernail into one of the kernels, and if a milky juice comes out they are in perfect condition for eating.
8. If you have some very good baskets of Trailing Geraniums or Pots of Zonal Geraniums, why not take your own cuttings. Geranium cuttings taken now root very easily. Simply trim off shoots about 2.5 cm (2in) long, and cut just below a pair of leaves. Then remove the bottom pair of leaves and any flower buds. This cutting is now ready, I then like to dip the cut end into Hormone Rooting Powder, this is now ready for inserting into pots or trays filled with moist Multipurpose Compost. Cuttings taken at this time of year root very easily if placed on the bench in a greenhouse or even stood outside in a semi shaded part of the garden (Unlike other cuttings, Geranium cuttings DO NOT need covering with polythene to aid rooting). After initial watering, keep trays of compost on the dry side whilst rooting, this will help prevent stem rot (Blackleg) occurring. Plants should be rooted in 14-21 days.
9. As space comes available from early harvested crops and where potatoes were, make sure you fill it up again, as now is a good time to sow some over wintering Japanese Onions. Sown now outside in drills these will quickly germinate and will be ready for thinning early next year as spring onions then I leave the rest to mature as full sized onions for use from June onwards. I find these a useful crop to grow as; you will have onions ready to use just as your stored onions have finished. I think one of the best varieties to grow is Onion Keepwell F1 Hybrid. Overwinter Spring Onions can also be sown this month like White Lisbon winter hardy or New for 2023 is Gerda that can be sown in the autumn or spring.
10. For a continuous supply of salad leaves going into the autumn, I will be making another sowing of Mixed salad leaves into pots on the patio this month. These will quickly germinate and produce fresh mixed leaves ready to pick as baby leaves in around 28-30 days. The advantage of sowing these leaves in pots at this time of year is that they can always be moved to a cool glasshouse or sheltered part of the garden if the weather turns bad.