August and the summer is in full swing. By now you should be harvesting many of the fruit and vegetables you have worked hard to grow throughout the season and enjoying the unique taste of fresh salad crops, potatoes, tomatoes, peas and beans homegrown. However, in-between enjoying the fruits of your labour there is still plenty to be doing in even the smallest vegetable garden. So take a minute to read through this short reminder of some of the vital jobs to be doing in the vegetable garden during August.
Bend over the tops of onions as they ripen and sow other varieties of onions which will mature from late June or July next year. Order garlic bulbs ready to plant out in the autumn. Make other preparations for late and next season by sowing spring lettuce, winter spinach, spring cabbages and late carrots.
If you grow fruit, continue to pick plums as they ripen. Save some to make jam to remind you of the summer months once winter arrives. Prune out the fruiting canes on summer-fruiting raspberries. It is also time to prune trained forms of fruit tress such as espalier and cordon apples. Make sure that blackberries and autumn-fruiting raspberries are netted to protect them from hungry birds. Wasps can be a pest around soft fruit so hang traps near by to catch them.
Pinch out the tops of outdoor tomatoes as further fruits produced are unlikely to ripen. However you can leave them to fruit if you intend to make green tomato chutney. Towards the end of the month sweetcorn should be ripe and ready to pick. Plant out strawberry runners that have rooted and pot some up in the greenhouse for early fruiting next season. Stake brussel sprout plants that have grown tall to prevent them being blown over. Towards the end of the month young spring cabbage plants can be planted out and onions can be harvested. Hang or lay them out in a dry airy place to dry out before storing.
Carry on picking fresh tender herbs for winter use. Freeze them in ice cubes or hang bunches in a warm and dark place to dry. Sow parsley seed in garden planters and place near to the house in a sheltered position for use during winter and spring. Towards the end of the month when the nights can be cool cover tender herbs such as basil with cloches to protect them.
Jo Pultney is a RHS qualified gardener who has recently set up a business selling garden planters and garden related gifts via a website.