As August makes its presence felt, our minds turn gently to the waning of Summer. In our part of the world, it marks the time of Lughnasa, the beginning of the harvest season.
For many home gardeners, it’s a time for cutting back and preparing for the next cycle of growth during the last vestiges of sultry summer sunshine.
Rehydrate! The Plants, The Lawn, The Birdbaths, The Ponds
First things first, keep your current garden hydrated in the summer heat to ensure no plants are lost too early and ensure your lawn stays nourished and green.
● Water your plants intelligently by making sure you water them at the base so all the water gets close to the root. Do it at sundown when it’s cooler so the water is not lost to evaporation.
● Don’t forget to refill the birdbath with clean water and clear out any accumulated moss or algae.
● This should also apply to any garden water features & ponds, that require a spot-check and refresh for stagnant water. Clear old debris, fungi or plant growth that may be clogging it up.
Cut Back To Grow Better
● Deadhead roses and repeat blooming plants like cosmos, geraniums and other perennials to get further rounds of late summer colour. Be sure to cut 3 leaves down and above any new buds you may see emerging along the stem. You can also trim back potted petunias and dahlias.
● Cut back dead, infected or yellowed out leaves to give the healthier parts of your plants space to grow.
● Remove spent or dead branches on shrubs and trees. Store away somewhere dry for kindling or decorative displays in winter.
● Cut down spring and early summer flowering shrub varieties that have gone to seed.
● Trim hedges that may have grown out of shape or into an obstruction. Clear paths and paving of any overgrown border shrubs by trimming.
● Tidy up your herb garden by removing dead leaves and stalks to keep your ready supply of lush new green shoots for better flavour. Trim back perennial herbs to encourage fresher tastier shoots and a second harvest.
● Lower level & older dense leaf growth can be thinned out, especially in fruit-bearing and flowering plants. This gives more energy to the parts of the plant you want to do well and allows more sunlight through to new flowering shoots.
● If you have not done much weeding in the summer, now would be a good time to remove mature flowering weeds as you want to avoid the prospect of more seeds making their way into your garden.
Feed & Boost Summer Growth With Fertiliser
● Supplement the soil for fully grown plants to give them a final hurrah. Add some fertiliser especially if you desire more blooms late in the season.
● Liquid feed your plants every fortnight when watering too.
● This includes your lawn but do be careful not to cut too short. Leave blades of grass enough height so as to retain more moisture in the ground and prevent a parched ground. Reseed any bare or worn out patches in the grass now and nurture with regular watering.
Grow Something New
● It is not too late to sow quick maturing salad crops. Make space for some summer lettuce, radish, rocket, sorrel, chicory and fennel.
● You can also plant out new Strawberry
● Lift, separate and transplant clumps of plants that have multiplied like chives or poppies.
Train & Support Your Fast-Growing Plants!
● If you have creeper plants or rambling varieties that need to be trained - be sure to check in and tidy them up whilst guiding them or tying them in place towards the direction of growth you envision.
● You may have to prune them in the process as you find dead branches and even cut away some new shoots to shape existing growth in the preferred direction.
● Add support to tall flowering plants like dahlias or fruit-bearing creepers like tomato plants. You may even have to replace, extend or upgrade bamboo or wooden stakes as your plants reach new heights. Check old supports in case they’ve become too tight.
What To Do Near Harvest Time
We just love the moment when we can harvest those sun-ripened tomatoes and other assorted vegetables and fruits.
● But when it comes to flowering plants, why not harvest the dried up seed heads or seed pods? Store a ready batch in a dry place to germinate next spring or gift them to someone else.
● Prop up fruit-bearing branches at risk of breaking under the weight of their own produce.
● Be sure to harvest ripened fruits and vegetables, thus making way for your plants to divert their energy to newer growth.
● Your herbs may be flourishing fast in the sun, faster than you can use them. Harvest herbs like oregano and dry them by hanging them upside down somewhere dry.
● Harvest old Lavender heads to promote new growth. Dry the stalks or spent buds to fill muslin sachets or potpourri. Use them to scent your wardrobes or linen cupboards. Or recycle the stalks for dried floral displays.
Pest Control Never Ends
The sultry weather in August will also mean your pest control duties never end. Keep vigilant and take steps to discourage slugs and snails whilst being on the lookout for fresh aphid colonies as your plants continue to shoot new leaves and buds.
Prepare To Replace & Replant Bulbs In Late Autumn
When it comes to early flowering plants like Alliums, Crocus, Daffodils, Narcissi and Snowdrops, start planning now.
● Time to start restocking and reordering new spring season bulbs, and reposition established ones
● Replant bulbs in the areas where you envision next year’s growth. You may be observing gaps or areas in your gardens and beds that may host new colours in spring.
Dry Weather DIY
If you’re blessed with dry weather anytime this August, it is a great time to do some maintenance and touch-ups.
● If you haven’t started during spring clean, this is your last chance to touch up faded fences and sheds with a new coat of paint, stain or varnish where applicable.
● Be on the lookout for the accumulation of Moss, Mildew, Mould or Algae in wetter corners and patios or other hard surfaces in need of a power wash.
It’s also a good time for fixing any leaky sheds or greenhouses.
Heading Out On Holiday? Have a Gardening Backup Plan For your Absence
● Move your potted plants, and planters into shaded areas to prevent them from drying out under the sun.
● Use self-watering systems, water-filled plant trays for potted plants, hydroponic irrigation tools or a sprinkler timer to keep them hydrated for longer periods
Your Seasonal Checklist Of Necessary Tools & Hardware
Shopping list● Watering can / Watering hose
● Garden shears, Secateurs & Clippers
● Trowel & Small Garden Spade
● Lawn Mower
● Liquid Fertiliser and Ericaceous feed
● Lawn Seed and Feed
● Spring-flowering bulbs
● Wood Stain and Varnish
● Mildew, Moss and Fungus remover
● Bamboo garden stakes & Garden tape/ Twine
● Weed Killer
● Weatherproof paint
● Power washer