August is a lazy time in the garden, ideal for putting your feet up and enjoying the fruits of your labours, picking fruit and veg you planted earlier and chilling with a glass or two on the patio surrounded by pots in full bloom. But there’s always something to do in the garden, so if you’ve got the energy, try these simple projects to keep your outdoor room spick and span...
Plant bearded irises now to fill your garden with early summer colour next year. We particularly love this colourful prima donna, appropriately named ‘Strut Your Stuff’. Choose an open, sunny site with free-draining soil, and plant your irises with the rhizomes at soil level, so that they can bake in the sun.
Sow fast-growing salad crops, such as lettuce, radishes, spring onions and chives, which will all be ready to eat in a few weeks. Just take a look at these late-sown lettuces in this pretty windowbox with herbs and flowers that will bloom through till late September. Also sow carrots for harvesting later in the autumn and spring cabbages, which will mature over winter and be ready to eat early next year.
You can also plant strawberry plants for next year’s crops from August through to late autumn. Plant them in large pots and hanging baskets filled with a mix of multi-purpose and John Innes No 2 compost, or in a sunny position and free-draining soil in your garden.
Pick tomatoes as soon as they are ripe, and continue to harvest runner beans, French beans and courgettes when they are young and tender. If your plants are still flowering, more crops will follow, as long as you keep your plants well watered.
Give container displays a quick makeover if they’re looking tired or past their best. First, cut back flowers with long, straggly stems, such as petunias, Calibrachoa, and nasturtiums, leaving them with just a few pairs of leaves along each stem. Also remove all faded and dead flowerheads on other plants before giving each pot a dose of tomato fertilizer, checking the pack or bottle for the correct quantity. Continue to feed your pots once a week with tomato fertilizer, and your plants will soon develop lots of leaves and flowers, and continue to bloom up to the frosts in autumn.
Keep your pond or water feature topped up with water during hot spells. Rainwater from a butt is ideal, but you can use tap water if you have nothing else – tap water contains a higher concentration of nutrients, which encourages the growth of pondweed and algae. When topping up fishponds with tap water, add it in small doses to prevent the water temperature changing too quickly and giving your fish an unpleasant cold shock!
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Zia Allaway, Garden Expert
View all posts by Zia Allaway, Garden Expert