What a lovely summer we are having so far. July was absolutely gorgeous with lots of hot, sunny days and warm evenings. There were one or two storms and showers which gave our gardens the soaking they needed, so now we can look forward to more sunshine in August, please!
That summery mix of sunshine and showers is just perfect for gardens and things are looking very healthy in the main. However, if the sunshine continues, your new plantings and anything you have in containers will probably still need some water. Even in heavy rain, there is so much foliage that rain drips off without reaching the soil or compost, so you must keep checking. Keep on top of the deadheading too, to encourage more flowers to bloom.
In the vegetable garden, keep harvesting fruit and vegetables as they become ripe and plant strawberries as soon as possible, to get the plants established before next year. August is also the month for sowing salad leaves to ensure a supply over winter. If you use a mixture of oriental varieties like Pak Choi, Chinese cabbage and Mizuna, you should have a good supply of leaves over winter. Summer salads grow too quickly, are popular with slugs and run to seed in warm weather, whereas winter leaves happily grow, slowly and steadily, through the winter months, particularly if protected by a cloche.
The trick is to have the plant reach a decent size before winter sets in, so start sowing now! Sow sufficient plants to harvest the leaves you need whilst leaving enough on each plant to keep it growing, and you’ll be amazed how much salad you can harvest in the depths of winter.
Late summer perennials should be looking quite spectacular this month with Echinacea, Phygelius, Rudbeckia, Crocosmia and Helianthus amongst those providing great displays. It’s not too late to inject some colour into your beds and borders – we have plenty of perennials in full flower, ready to be planted.
Towards the end of the month, you might want to start clearing and digging over any borders which you’d like to replant. Remove any roots and perennial weeds and add fertiliser, compost or manure at the same time. When planning the new border, don’t forget to build in some spring bulbs which are now available in the Garden Centre.