August gardening tips

Tiffany Daneff / 07 August 2017

As summer starts to draw to a close find out what to do in the vegetable patch and flower bed in August.



In the flower beds

Trim spent lavender flower heads, pruning lightly so as to leave a couple of inches of the soft new growth. Never cut into the wood as the plant may not regenerate. See more on lavender pruning.

Keep deadheading to keep flowers blooming. If going on holiday deadhead before you go so that flowers will welcome your return.

Save the seeds of annuals to sprinkle in beds or sow in containers.

Pots and hanging baskets need watering, dead heading and feed to keep them going.

Keep an eye on new plantings and divisions as their recently put down roots won’t cope with the dry. Check for signs of wilting and water the base of the plant, taking care to water all around to encourage the roots to explore.

Take soft cuttings of penstemons, pelargoniums etc. Find out more about taking soft cuttings.

Choose from a variety of beautiful Christmas carnations from Saga Garden Centre with free P&P on all orders. Buy now.

Lettuce and garlic in the August vegetable patch
In August there is still time to sow lettuce, and garlic bulbs can be dried out.

In the vegetable plot

Lift spring planted garlic when the foliage starts turning yellow. Don’t leave them or the bulbs will split. Either spread the bulbs on dry soil and let them dry out for two or three weeks in the sun or bring indoors and dry under cover somewhere dry and airy.

To store garlic, check that the leaves and stems are completely dry (no green is visible) before brushing loose soil. You can either cut off the leaves or plait the strands together, French onion seller style, so that you can hang up the bunches. Store somewhere dark and cool but NOT damp.

Save your largest garlic cloves to plant in late autumn/early winter.

Cut down summer-fruiting raspberry canes once they have finished fruiting. This is especially important if cutting them down will help circulate air through to the autumn fruiting raspberries (so preventing rotting).

Lift and pot strawberry runners. Strawberries will be sending out runners and by now some of these will have developed nice plantlets which you can either peg down into the soil or cut off and pot up for next year. Cut off unwanted runners to stop the plant putting all its energy into them.

Keep a constant eye on tomatoes. Continue tying once they have set six trusses, snap off the the growing tip to stop the plant growing taller. This encourages it to put its energy into fruit production.

Thin out lettuces, eating the thinnings and leaving space for the remaining plants to bulk up.

Sow some more lettuces and spinach (non-bolting). Sow the spinach in cooler spots to help prevent bolting. You can also sow radishes.

Keep picking runner and dwarf beans and watch that plants don’t dangle on the soil where slugs and snails can get them. Instead, carefully tie them in to their supports.

Sow sweetheart and pointed cabbage for next year.

Separate supermarket bought herbs and pot into several pots to allow each individual plant (There are lots in each pot) to develop and grow thus increasing your harvest. This system works really well with mint, coriander, basil, parsley and thyme and will save you lots of money.

Watch out for…

Late summer can bring diseases so keep an eye out for signs of disease. There seems to have been a fair amount of rust this year (orange spots on leaves). Cut off affected leaves and dispose by burning or by putting them in the bin.

How to tell what’s affecting your plants:

Mildew – tell tile powdery grey dust
Vine weevil – ground level stems are chewed
Rust – bright orange spots on leaves
Black spot – black spots on rose leaves which eventually turn yellow and drop
Earwigs – shredded dahlia petals

Check on compost bins. In dry weather the decomposing process may slow down if the contents become too dry. Cover with a compost duvet or cardboard or old rug/carpet cut to fit to hold in heat and moisture. If it’s very dry water using the rose on a watering can.

Creating a meadow

Cut or mow wildflower meadows at the end of August (or beginning of September) after plants set seed and leave the cuttings on the ground for several days to allow time for seeds to fall before raking and clearing. Find out more about making a meadow.

Last chance to...

Summer prune trained apples and pears.
Sow chard.
Order bulb catalogues ready to put in your bulb orders next month. It’s best to get in early before the best varieties disappear.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.