What To Do In The Garden In August
August is probably the most your garden will get used all year—the kids are off from school, it’s perfect BBQ weather, and your fruits and veggies will likely be thriving. The scarce rainfall partnered with the hot weather makes it a little more difficult to care for your plants, and you need to carefully time when and how you water your yard. There are little jobs you need to stay on top of to keep your garden looking its best.
August Garden Jobs
Cutting Down Your Garden
Pruning your garden is one of the most important jobs you can do, especially if you want to retain control over the plants or change up your garden for the next year. Any plants that have seed pods need to be collected if you’re planning on reseeding them, or if you don’t want them to reseed themselves, which is crucial if you don’t want your plants to start growing uncontrollably around your garden.
It’s also a good idea to dead-head any perennials that have faded or spoiled, as this encourages them to continually bloom. If you’ve never done this before, you simply need to pinch or cut off the stem just below the dead blossoms and right above the first full set of fresh leaves. Do this for all the spent flowers on the plant, which should blossom again, and ensure you do this regularly to keep your garden looking fresh for as long as possible.
Climbers, like Wisteria, climbing roses, or honeysuckle, need pruning in the summer in order to guarantee a yearly blossom. Wisteria, in particular, can quickly grow way past its allotted space and stop eventually flowering altogether without being cut back twice a year. For these types of plants, you should cut back the extra ‘whippy’ growth after flowering with a pair of sharp pruning scissors, leaving about five leaves worth of length from the main stem. The same goes for lavender plants, which also need pruning after flowering to keep them controlled.
August is also a good month to get any weeds in check. We know you might have put it off for the summer, while you enjoy spending time in the garden rather than working in it. However, now’s the time to get serious about cleaning up the flower beds. As autumn begins, weeds start to produce thousands of seeds, ready for germinating next spring. If you don’t remove them now, next year’s garden could be completely overrun with weeds which could destroy your plants. Weeding your garden is much easier when the soil is moist, so you can either wait for rainfall or water your garden well the evening before. Take care to remove all the roots for the weeds, as some species like crabgrass or purslane can quickly regenerate from even the smallest amount of root left.
Harvesting Fruits and Vegetables
Growing your own fruits and vegetables means regularly harvesting them as they become ripe and ready. Forgetting to do this could result in them rotting in your garden, attracting flies, and causing a smell. August is generally a good time of the summer for your crops to be ready for harvesting, with many ready in time for summers end. The best crops to harvest in August are:
These need regular harvesting through the month, as you should only pick the ones that come off easily when twisted. Don’t force any tomatoes off, but you should also ensure you harvest them regularly. Leaving ripe fruits on the vine will cause them to split and rot. If you’ve never grown your own tomatoes before, yield the best crop you can with the help of our grow pots.
Cucumbers grow very quickly in the right conditions, so you need to keep a close eye on them. Take care of the plants, and you could continue to reap the fruits every week throughout the summer. They’ll be ready to harvest at around 8 inches—just pick them before they turn yellow and bloated.
Potatoes can be easily harvested in August, but be careful to look out for potato blight. If you spot this, harvest the potatoes immediately, and do not replant them. You should also burn any affected plants. You can easily grow your own potatoes separately in a bag or barrel to reduce the chances of any potato blight affected other crops.
August and September are the months where your plums will be at their best. Regularly check the fruit, and only pick the ones that are soft and ripe, being careful not to let them overripen on the branches.
Aubergines grow best when maintained at around 21°C, so you should see a good yield in August. Whichever variety you choose to grow, pick them when they’re bright and shiny. You can tell the fruit has gone bad when the colour turns a dull shade.
If you’re growing herbs in your garden, be sure to cut them as frequently as you can to give them a good chance of growing back for harvesting before the first frost sets in. However, you should remember that the oils responsible for intense flavours and aromas peak just before flowering, which happens in late summertime. When harvesting your herbs, make sure to clip them in the morning after the dew has dried, but before the weather starts warming up.
When watering your plants in August, it’s best to stick to mornings before the day becomes too hot and evaporates the water from the soil. This also means that your foliage will dry out enough before the temperature drops in the evening, which reduces the risk of your plants developing any diseases. It’s important to soak the soil whenever you do water, rather than taking a “little and often” approach. Soaking the soil gives the water a chance to bury deep into the soil, which can encourage your plants to send down deeper roots, ultimately giving them more nutrients and water in the long run.
If it’s a particularly hot August, you should keep as close an eye on your plants and watch out for any early signs of dehydration. Soft-leaved plants will suffer the quickest from a lack of water and will display drooping leaves. In extremely hot weather, the leaves may wilt and feel crisp in the sun. Regular watering of the soil should combat this. However, most plants are hardy enough to withstand the heat—as long as they’re watered thoroughly and often.
What Fruit And Vegetables Can I Plant In August?
Quick Maturing Salad
Quick maturing salads are ideal for sowing and planting in August, as they’ll be able to grow ready to harvest quickly. There are many options of quick-growing salads which are generally read in about a month from sowing, or as quickly as three weeks, so you can have everything you need for a summer salad fresh from your garden.
- Summer lettuce
Certain types of turnip, like Tokyo Cross and Market Express, grow big enough to eat in less than 40 days, so an August planting is perfect for some September turnips. Even if you get an early frost, you can use the tender greens in any recipes. Be mindful of the weather when planting, however, as too hot temperatures can cause a bitter turnip, while cooler soil means sweeter and mild turnips.
These plants can be sown as late as August in greenhouse temperatures before being planted outside around 4 weeks later. These will grow over winter and produce heads to be harvested in the following spring. It’s important to remember that cabbage takes up a lot of room, so ensure you have plenty of space—between 45-60cm per plant—if you’re going to include these in your garden.
Onion varieties like Radar or Troy are considered autmnal or “overwintering”, because they grow slowly over the winter, ready to be harvested in the following spring. Other alliums, like garlic, can also be grown slowly over the colder months, especially varieties like Vallelado and Morado. Onions need to be grown in full sun and fertile, moist, and drained soil, while garlic should be grown in soil that has been well fertilised with organic matter, such as worm castings. The areas for both should be well weeded to minimise the competition as much as possible over the winter. Bear in mind that you shouldn’t grow them in the same area, or close together, in order to yield as large a crop as possible.
The quintessential summertime fruit, strawberries can be easily grown at home. Plant misted tip strawberries up until mid-August, ready to harvest the following year. These fruits grow well in sunny and sheltered positions, with plenty of fertile, free-draining soil. Add lots of organic matter, like compost or well-rotted manure before growing to get the best yield possible. You want to leave about 18” of space between each plant, and around 30” space between each row. We recommend protecting the berries from hungry birds with a net or fleece tunnel, especially when they start to ripen.
Blackcurrant bushes are relatively easy to grow and can be planted ready for the following summer. Container grown bushes should be planted during the growing season, which lasts from April to September. Because of this, regular watering is crucial to help the bush become established. Aim for twice a day for the first 2 weeks or so, taking care to avoid the daytime when the water will simply evaporate. After this, water once a day until the bushes are well established in time for the winter.
After planting, take the time to cut all the shoots back to around 2” from the base, ensuring they come back stronger for the next season. Blackcurrants only fruit on well-ripened wood that has been established for around two years. Skipping out this pruning period will give you fruit quicker, but your plant will suffer in the long-term due to a lack of strong growth in the early stages.
What To Do On August Bank Holiday Weekend
The August bank holiday weekend is there for you to enjoy the last weekend before the summer holidays end. Enjoy the break with your children (if you have any) and get the family involved in some outdoor fun. Host a garden party with your nearest and dearest with a charcoal BBQ, and get everyone involved with some garden games.
You also want to give your lawn a good cut. Grass actually grows slower in the summer months, so you need to lift the blades on your lawnmower higher so you don’t cut them too short for too long. Doing this before it starts turning rainier means you have a better chance of maintaining your lawn through the winter. Remember, it’s almost impossible to get a decent cut on wet grass.
You could also think about clearing away your summer garden items. A BBQ, for example, may not be used as much in September, once the kids are back at school and the days start getting shorter. If it doesn’t fit in the shed, make sure you cover it up properly to protect it against the chilly weather. Take the time to put away any furniture you may not use in September so you don’t have to worry about it when the weather gets too cold to be outside.