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August Tips

The Ornamental Garden

  • Check lawns for chafer grub damage now. Look for yellowing patches that, if pulled gently, 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 with the specific natural predators that you water on to control this pest now.
  • 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. Use Weedol Pathclear or 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. 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 or Perlite and compost 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 windowsill.
  • 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 seed!]
  • The first of our spring flowering bulbs will be in soon, with most available by the end of the month.
  • Plant snowdrop bulbs and anemone corms 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 Narcissi 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 decorations!
  • Dead flowers, and a little bit of the stem below, should be trimmed off Lavenders now. If they have become straggly a harder pruning should be delayed until 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 Ultra* 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 [download from our website].
  • Plant Hydrangeas. We have plenty to choose from grown in our nursery. Plant all in soils that stay moist or that you can mulch generously.
  • If you want your blue Hydrangeas to stay blue use Hydrangea Colorant during the growing season.
  • Turn your compost heap over and water it thoroughly if it appears dry. The decomposition process can be accelerated by mixing in some 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. Our ‘Tips on Composting is available on our website and available to download.
  • This is a good time to control vine weevil using a biological predator.
  • 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.

The 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 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 with ’new’ plants.
  • 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.

The Kitchen Garden

  • Cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts and other Brassicas get a multitude of pests at this time of year. Use Agralan Enviromesh to protect vegetable crops against flying pests, it is particularly effective against carrot and 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 [lamb’s lettuce], rocket, and radicchio. These are not hard to grow and will provide tasty nutritious homegrown salads in the middle of winter! We have a range of young veg plants too!
  • 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 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 producing 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.
  • Prune out summer fruiting raspberry canes that have finished cropping.
  • Sow green manures in any gaps. This will improve your soil. We have a full range from Kings Seeds.

The Wildlife Garden

  • 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. This can also be used to clean pots, trays, glass, benches and pruning tools
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