Busy times in July and August’s garden!
Where has the time gone? It’s certainly been busy over the last couple of months for Jill and I! We’ve been working away at lots of flower shows these last few weeks and it’s been great to meet so many lovely gardening lovers and enthusiasts.
While we were working at Tatton Flower Show we met up with actress Thelma Barlow who used to play Mavis on Coronation Street. I worked with Thelma back in 2000 when I presented a 12-part gardening series for ITV called Simply Gardening, where Thelma presented the organic gardening features. It was good to see her and she was looking great at 94.
Martin & Thelma in 2000
Martin, Thelma & Jill in 2023
Back at Ivy Cottage, the areas of the garden that we’ve planted in May & June are growing well, helped by the rain over the past week or two. In the veg garden everything is growing very well in the new raised beds, to the point that some plants are too big! It must be the newly imported topsoil that came from Plant Grow in Norfolk, which is enriched with their own compost. We’ve got potatoes that are 4ft tall and courgette plants bursting out of the beds. I’m sure by next year when the nutrient levels have reduced, everything will grow normally!
Back in May I mentioned that some plants were being nibbled and I thought it was being done by field voles. However, I noticed the damage was also appearing higher up the plants, which rules out voles unless they have step ladders! Looking out of the bedroom window one morning I spotted a young hare having a nibble of the sweet peas and when I went out, it ran out of the garden through the open gate. Since putting some wire on the bottom of the gate and keeping it closed, we’ve had no more trouble from Mr Hare!
Now we’re back at home and caught up on things a little, we can get stuck into the back garden where we want to lay a new patio and create new beds and borders ready for planting.
Jobs for August
The rain over the past few weeks has certainly helped to keep the garden looking fresh and saved on watering, although if you have plants growing in containers, they will still need regular watering and feeding to keep the plants growing and healthy.
To keep lawns green and healthy mow little and often which helps to maintain a thick covering of grass. If the weather turns hot and dry, lift the height of cut slightly.
Water and feed camellias from through August as this is when the tiny flower buds in the tips of the stems start to develop. If the soil is dry, they won’t form properly, so keep the roots moist at all times.
Keep an eye on apples and plums and any fruits that turn brown and start to rot on the tree should be removed and disposed of. This is known as brown-rot and it left on the tree it soon spreads to healthy fruits.
If vine weevil is a problem in your garden, now is a good time to apply the nematodes that are watered into the soil or compost around susceptible plants. The microscopic worms find the vine weevil grubs and infect them with a bacterium that kills them.
Keep hoeing the borders and between rows of vegetables to chop of seedling weeds before they get too large and flower.
August is when many vegetables such as runner beans, courgettes are coming thick and fast and the secret to keeping them productive is to harvest little and often. Pick beans and courgettes while they are small and tender to encourage more flowers.
If growing tomatoes, remember to pinch of the side shoots on upright varieties and feed them weekly with a high potash tomato fertiliser to help the fruits develop and ripen.
There’s still time to sow beetroot, carrots, lettuce, spring onions, spinach and other leafy veg to enjoy through the autumn.
Stop tomatoes to prevent them making more growth and flowers. This way the flowers and fruit that are already on the plants will have time to develop and ripen by the end of October.
Gooseberries and redcurrants can be given a summer prune to shorten the long new stems made this summer by up to two-thirds. With blackcurrants we prune slightly differently and cut out the old wood that’s fruited and leave the long new stems for next year.
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Martin Fish. www.martinfish.com