It’s August, and there’s still plenty to do in the garden

by Ken C | Last Updated: 01/08/2021

This month is holiday time if you have children they will be enjoying the garden, possibly cricket, maybe tennis or even football in a year of the Euro‘s. So it’s being used and I remember being allowed to with my mates produce a cycle track to race around, ruined the lawn but it was fun !!

Dealing with the pests

So many pests about this year I thought the rain would keep them away but “NO” there are Sawfly, Box caterpillar, aphid galore on the vegetables, the viburnums, the lupins, the cardoons, the nasturtiums and even the ivy from next door on my fence.

Attack seriously why not, instead of waiting till they are everywhere and killing the plants. Try spraying with a natural insecticide like Neudorff Pyrol Bug and Larvae Killer, alternatively, what about Resolva Bug Killer or even Bug Clear Ultra 2 which is Organic Farmer and Grower Certified?

Whichever you choose, you need to get spraying.

Let’s not forget slugs and snails, and I’ve seen some beauties this year.

Personally, I’m a slug pellet man and there are many that are friendly than they used to be – like Neudorff Sluggo. These work with all flowers and vegetables, so it’s ok to use both in gardens and on the allotment. No slime trails and mess with no time wait on harvesting those all-important vegetable crops.

Talking bugs, if you have nasturtiums in your baskets don’t forget aphids love them! So if you fancy nasturtium flowers with your salad, make sure you treat them too.

How about taking some cuttings?

Here’s an idea.

If you have mixed baskets with Geraniums and Petunias and have somewhere to overwinter plants, how about taking Geranium cuttings?  Take a strong shoot about three inches long cutting below a pair of leaves and remove those. Use a hormone powder such as Doff Natural Rooting Powder and pop the cuttings into a six-inch pot of compost. I usually put in five cuttings round the edge, water them in and then keep on the dryish side.

You can do the same with zonal geraniums that you are growing in the garden and here is how I do it. Take a slightly longer cutting and remove the bottom leaves. Open up a slit with a spade either in the back of a flower bed or in the veg plot, sprinkle some gritty sand along the slit and push the cuttings in at about three inches distant and leave until September.

Always better to overwinter a fresh new plant than a lifted plant from the flower bed or container.

I did this as an apprentice, and when doing it on a regular TV program some years ago the Horticulture Advisor from the TV company argued with me that it wouldn’t work! Yes you’ve guessed, I argued with them and did it. And then in September, whilst working on another program, we lifted those lovely rooted cuttings. Ken Crowther 1 – 0 Horticultual Advisor.

What are Zonal Geraniums?

Zonal Pelargonium flowers come in varying shades, from a light pink up to deep crimson hues. This makes it possible for you to find one that suits your tastes regardless of what they may be. Zonal Pelargonium plants also excel in providing not just vivid color but height when planted close to homes 

Dealing with shrubs and lawns

If you didn’t cut back early flowering shrubs, I still recon it’s worth removing some of that growth otherwise those shrubs will soon outgrow their positions. Remember to cut back hard if the shrub is full of old wood and all top growth, it’s ugly and will not give you a good-looking shrub for the future.

As for lawns, they have been a real challenge as I’m sure you are all aware, and that’s for all – whether professional gardeners or those of you at home trying to tame that green stuff

OK, so these strange weather patterns don’t mean you should ignore your lawn so keep cutting on a regular basis. If the mixed weather continues and we have rain like we did last month, I’d resist feeding and wait until next month for an autumn feed. However, if you still have some moss, I’d use Viano Mo Bacter which is very effective as the high levels of potassium are taken in by the moss, and that causes it to stop growing and die out. Then the bacteria works with it to feed the grass. All good stuff!

But let’s look on the bright side and imagine that this month is hot and dry and we get weeks of sun. Hard to imagine I know, but can happen! If so, keep cutting and water regularly.

In particularly dry weather, I like to use a liquid-feed like Micracle-Gro Evergreen Water Soluble Lawn Food as this will achieve feeding without scorching the turf, and it helps to keep the grass growing in what could be a stressful time.

Remember, the thicker the lawn the less chance of weeds establishing themselves, and like us and everything else in the garden, your lawn needs feeding regularly.

What about my fruit plants Ken?

Have you looked at your strawberry bed lately?

If you have ‘ever bearing’ varieties like Flamenco from Pomona Fruits in Essex (a great company for a vast range of fruit bushes, trees and plants by the way), you will have been cropping for a couple of months and the plants will still be flowering for more fruit to come into the Autumn.

If yours were early or mid flowering varieties, then it’s time to clean up the old leaves around the plant. And if your plants are old, you could start a new bed with the runners which will start to be produced around now.

If you peg down the runners, they soon root. Then, give the whole bed a boost by watering with Maxicrop Complete Garden Feed to help them all along. Those plants will have rooted by the end of the month so you can separate them and plant a new section in the vegetable plot

Alternatively, have a look through what Pomona Fruits have to offer and try a new variety.

Staying on fruit, those Worcester and Discovery apples should be ready to pick and get your teeth into. And soon it’ll be time for plums. If you have a small garden don’t be put off worrying about the size of trees as so many fruits today are grown as dwarfs and produce fruit very quickly. And in patio, pots you can quickly create your own orchard of all your favorite fruits.

Enough of the fruit, what about the vegetables?

In the vegetable plot, I’m disappointed with my peppers and tomatoes they seem a bit behind. Are yours? The rest of the salads are doing well and the cut-and-come again lettuce from Kings Seeds is so tasty and the spring onions and radish are great, not forgetting the odd pulled carrot chopped up. Yum.

I’m still having to buy tomatoes and cucumbers though!!!

The early potatoes are eaten, and it’s a reminder for those of you with second earlies that it’s a good time to lift them. See that you keep the fork well away from the plant and lift carefully, then grovel through the soil to see you haven’t missed any.

Be careful to check each potato for damage as disease and rots soon spread when potatoes are stored. And if the ground is really wet when lifting, allow the potatoes to dry off before storing them. Old potato sacks are ideal as the tubers must not be exposed to light.

If you follow my blog, I’ll give you the nod when to lift those Main Crop varieties.

Looking forward to Spring

We now have to start to look towards Spring as it’s around now that bulbs will start to appear in Garden Centres and Nurseries. Everything from Tulips, Crocus, Daffodils, Anemone, Muscari and Hyacinths. Every year they seem to turn up earlier and earlier – a bit like Easter Eggs in shops straight after Christmas!!!!

Late August is good time to plant Daffodils and Narcissus. I urge you to be bold and try some new varieties as well as the old favourites – like that large yellow trumpet Daffodil King Alfred or that lovely late-flowering Narcissus Pheasant Eye.

Last year I was given a sample of a magnificent specimen with multi-centre creams and oranges in a real mix called Popeye. It’s worth a try.

You will also see what is commonly called Autumn Crocus on sale at this time of the year. Most are not Crocus but one that is, and is my favourite, is the simple crocus-shaped purple flower of Crocus Sativus which tolerates part shade, thrives in warm dry soil and will vegetatively reproduce. It also happens to be the variety from which saffron is obtained from the stamens however, you would need to plant thousands to get what you would need for your culinary delights.

What is Vegetative Reproduction?

Vegetative reproduction is a "process in the reproductive methods of plants" whereby separate parts of a single plant can grow into new plants.

Examples of vegetative reproduction are crocus flowers, which sprout from the corm and daffodil bulbs, on top of which you'll find leaves by Spring. The leaves will die back as winter approaches, but the next season's first shoots emerge right behind them.

Another spring bulb to consider are Colchicums which are often called Autumn Crocus – but they are not. They are however very attractive, come in purples and white, and the ones most sold of this family are the Water Lily variety with large multi-petaled flowers that, yes you guessed it, make it look like a waterlily.

They flower in Autumn with no leaves, they do produce leaves in spring and look best when planted in groups at the front of borders – although they can also look interesting when planted in grass. But be careful to mark where they are as after flowering there with be no sign until Spring.

As you can see there’s a lot you can be doing in the garden in August, so put on the sun cream and get out there. To stay safe, use gloves at all times and protect yourself as you cut back those shrubs that need pruning. And if your plants are getting on a bit, then it could be time to treat yourself to some new ones or, maybe, start your own from cuttings.

Whatever you decide, Happy Gardening!

Ken Crowther is an award winning broadcaster, author and member of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture. He has been gardening for over 50 years and his knowledge and experience are drawn on to provide advice and information about garden design, plants for all seasons, gardening techniques and gardening tips. Gardening with Ken's broad appeal means he reaches a wide audience across the UK from amateur gardeners to top level horticulturists.