And then it was August. July was a strange mish mash and thank fully a bit of rain arrived and settled our spring planting. For several weeks we struggled to get anything moving, leaves were falling, lawns browned and there was a sadness to the garden. A splash of rain and everything perked up. Nothing comes for free though and the winds have been testing, our hollyhocks and sunflowers reclining at forty-five degrees after one particularly rough night.
Of course, the weather hasn’t deterred the pests and the cabbage white butterflies have been busy, peppering the leaves of any exposed brassica with yellow clumps of eggs, reinforcing the caterpillars, the product of previous laying. The pigeons have been a nightmare too. Overnight our site is a canopy of netting. I suspect the pigeons watch us close down each evening with keen eyes seeking anything that we might have missed. If they find your crop, they are relentless. Well wrapped netting can keep of pigeons and butterflies. The battle is only just beginning both of these pests are in for the long haul and caterpillars will be with us into September, so be vigilant. There are of course chemical options for these pests and the company Grazers do some interesting repellent’s which I have used and found effective. Wet weather reduces the strength of the product and so repeat spraying may be needed.
As we move through the month our journey is very much about harvest and maintenance. Feeding, watering, dead heading and harvesting are the key tasks. You don’t want plants wasting energy on seed production. Leaving flower heads on, or allowing vegetables to go past their best is wasteful. Ok, big cucumbers and courgettes are impressive, but will compromise further productivity if left attached to the parent. Salad needs using or it will run quickly to seed. Tough beans are horrible. Flowers will go on for weeks if kept dead headed.
If you have gaps in the borders or plots have a go with some green manuring. This is the process of covering ground with fast growing seed, digging in the matured plants after a couple of months in the knowledge that in their composting they are replenishing nutrient levels in the ground. At this time of the year Phacelia is the most satisfying, delivering drifts of blue flowers through the autumn.
And finally direct sow to the ground some Cherianthus. A delight for next year.