School holidays, A Level and GCSE results and swimming in the sea. It must be August! Here's some jobs that you might want to think about before you take a dip or smother yourself in a suitable suncream.......
1. Start collecting seeds from your plants as they start to ripen. Aquilegias, sweet peas, love-in-a-mist and poppies are great for this. Give the seed pods a shake and if you can hear them rattle or if you can see that the pods are dry and about to burst then now is the time to start saving that seed. Choose a warm, calm day and gently pick the pods, take them home and lay out some paper on the kitchen table. Gently break open the pods, put the seeds in an envelope and label them for sowing next year.
2. Keep camellias and rhododendrons well watered. The flower buds for next year will be forming now throughout the late summer so it’s really important that you keep the plants really well watered. We have a camellia by our front door that must now be well over 15 years old. It came from Brother Trug when he swapped Wiltshire for the Alps and we lovingly adopted it. Sometimes the plant needs a bit of a feed to keep the leaves nice and shiny and green but we know that as long as we water and feed it then next year we’ll be rewarded again with some bright red flowers.
3. Trim lavender once flowering is over to maintain a compact bush. We supplied and planted some lavender to several customers earlier in the year and we’ll be going back shortly to make sure they've been watered and to give them a trim. We’ll make sure though that we don’t trim it back to hard – it’s best to give lavender a light trim and not cut back into the hard old wood. And what will we do with some of the cuttings? Well…….
4. August is the time to take cuttings! Woody herbs like lavender and rosemary are ideal for this along with some of our flowering plants such as penstemons. Choose healthy, vigorous and non-flowering shoots, take your clean and sharp secateurs and start snipping. Read more here: Grow your own - Dig for Victory - taking cuttings. (trugandlettuce.co.uk)
5. Plant some bulbs. Now is the time of year when all those catalogues will start arriving with their tempting offers for bulbs. If you’re quick you can get some autumn bulbs, such as sternbergia and nerines and get them in your pots and borders, and you can start dreaming of 2022 and start planning your spring display. Read more about that here: Autumn Bulb Planting (trugandlettuce.co.uk)
6. Harvest your herbs. Now’s the time for beat Mr Schwarz at his own game and harvest your own. Stems of herbs can be picked and hung upto dry, or washed off, patted dry and then frozen. Easy enough to do and far more exciting then looking at the racks of them in the local supermarket.
7. Check your onions and garlic. And if those bulbs are looking nice and full and if the leaves have started to die back then now is the time to lift them, and leave them on the surface of the soil for a week or so to further dry out and for the skins to cure. Then you can plait them if you want to be fancy or ride around on your bike with a string of them around your neck or you can simply cut off the roots and most of the stems and store them in a cool, well ventilated space.
8. Check your tomatoes. Keep an eye out for blight and pay particular attention to discolouration of the leaves, the stems and the fruits themselves. If you spot it then pick the leaves or fruit and throw them away. Whilst you’re at it pinch out the tops of any outdoor tomatoes as it’s unlikely that any new fruit that’s produced now will have a chance to ripen.
9. Think about pruning. Now is a good time to prune rambling roses by removing up to a third of stems that have flowered and then tie the rest into sufficiently strong support wires. Give them a feed, water and mulch and they’ll thank you for it. You can also think about pruning your hedges now that the nesting season is coming to an end. Check first though to make sure that there aren’t any active nests – pruning a hedge during the nesting season and destroying a nest is a criminal offence. If you’re tackling a laurel hedge then use secateurs rather than a hedgetrimmer. It might take longer but by avoiding half-cut leaves you’ll have a hedge that stays green rather than start to go brown.
10. And finally think about sowing some green manure on any bare ground. We’ve got ours on order and when it comes we’ll be up at the allotment, finishing off our weeding – for one reason or another it’s not been a good year for us at the allotment and the only thing that has really done well has been the weeds – and then we’ll get sowing. Ready to let that mustard and clover grow over the autumn and winter before it dies back and then dig it in next spring.
Give the jobs a go and let us know how you get on.