August is often a quieter time in the garden. The sowing and planting is done, and all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the flowers and flavours of summer. But although the to-do list is growing a little shorter, it hasn’t disappeared altogether - and there are still plenty of jobs to get on with this month!
- Sow green manures on bare patches of ground to dig in later and enrich your soil; clover, trefoil and vetch are full of nitrogen and can be sown now.
- Cut back meadows to a height of about 5cm (2”) once plants have set seed, leaving the cuttings in place for a few weeks to allow the seed to drop out for next year’s flowers.
- Keep watering spring-flowering shrubs such as rhododendrons and camellias as they’re currently forming flower buds for next year’s display.
- Collect seed from hardy annuals as they ripen, clean away any chaff and other debris then store in a paper envelope in a cool, dry place till spring.
- Lightly trim lavender after flowering removing spent flowerheads and leaving 2.5cm (1”) of the current season’s growth.
- Harvest the first early dessert apples but make sure they’re fully ripe first – cup the fruit in your hand and twist it gently, and if it comes away easily, stalk intact, it’s ready to enjoy.
- Look out for the first signs of powdery mildew, a common fungal disease in late summer and early autumn mainly affecting squashes, courgettes and cucumbers. Pick off infected leaves to slow the spread as soon as you see them, and keep plants well watered.
- Start harvesting runner beans as well as other summer crops such as sweetcorn and cucumbers as they become ready to fill your kitchen with home-grown flavour.