MONTHLY GARDENING TIPS

August

August is usually one of the hottest months of the year - making watering essential. Try to use grey water wherever possible, especially as water butts may be running low if it has been a dry summer.

Top 10 Jobs

1. Take root cuttings of mint to keep you in indoor mint through winter. Tip out of their pots and pull away a length of the thick white root that is snaking around the edge. Snip lengths a couple of inches long then lay them across the surface of a pot of compost, covered with a little of the same. Water and grow on a sunny cool windowsill.

2. Give lavender plants a light trim all over as soon as the flowers are past. Like all silver leaved, Mediterranean shrublets they hate to be pruned back into dead wood, so you need to keep them trim and neat with an annual going over. Use shears and take off just an inch or so of this year’s growth, to stimulate bushing out from below.

3. Summer-flowering meadows can be cut now that knapweed, devil’s bit scabious, selfheal, lady’s smock and others have flowered and set seed. Use a strimmer to cut to a height of around 3in, then let the fallen stems lie for several days to allow the seeds to drop before raking off.

4. Wade into your pumpkin or squash patch and pop a small tile or piece of wood under each fruit, to stop them being rotted by contact with the soil. This is a crucial time for swelling and hardening up, so a liquid feed to each plant will prove useful for the final stretch.

5. Remove old yellow and diseased leaves from courgettes, cucumbers and melons, but leave healthy foliage. Cutting away foliage to allow fruits to ripen can be counterproductive as it reduces the nutrients going to the fruits at a crucial time.

6. Most plants start to flop and slump come late August, but dahlias should buck that trend and look perky. If yours are starting to lean, stake them now. Also keep on top of deadheading.

7. Hedgehogs are endangered, and could be extinct as early as 2020. At this time of year they are foraging for extra food and putting on fat reserves for winter hibernation, so are on the hunt for pests to eat. But they need a foraging range of one to two miles to sustain them and are hampered in this by our fences, which cut them off from hunting grounds. Therefore, try to make a hole somewhere in your fencing & encourage neighbours to do likewise to create a “hedgehog corridor”!

8. Once your first sunflowers begin to fade, it is possible to prolong the display by deadheading: cut off the finished flowers back to a pair of leaves. Side shoots will grow up from below and produce smaller flowers later.
Hot weather lowers both the water and oxygen level in ponds. Top yours up if it is getting low, ideally with rainwater from a water butt. A little solar fountain left running overnight (when oxygen levels are at their lowest) also helps.

9. Prune wisteria

10. Collect seed from garden plants