Well, things warmed up a tad in July didn’t they? We deliberated on the ethics of pouring water onto the garden, we bucketed the bathwater and dropped house bricks in toilet cisterns to reduce the flush, but despite our best-efforts things crisped and many things ran swiftly to seed. Onions were very quick to bolt, and other plants chased in close behind. My poor old beetroot has taken a real bashing, so next week I shall try my luck with a late sowing. I shall run out a channel and thoroughly water the line before sowing the seed. Late sowing into the ground, particularly in a dry season will require regular and gentle watering with a rose, but with care good results on many roots can be achieved. If you are going to do some sowing, perpetual spinach and spring cabbage will be worth a go. Do look for the word perpetual on the packet, leaf spinach is now very popular as a salad item, but does not offer the cut and come again opportunity offered by its hardier cousin. On the vegetable front, you can still consider (for fun) potting a few potatoes for Christmas. Just drop two or three close to the bottom of a large pot, cover them with a few inches of compost and continue to cover as the shoots push upwards. Put the pots into a sheltered position as autumn moves in and providing, they have a bit of water along the way, you’ll have a taste of new spuds at Christmas. Garden maintenance is important throughout August, with the regular dead heading of flowering plants ensuring a constant replenishment of summer colour. A bit of liquid feed will liven plants considerably. Where shrubbier plants have finished with flowering, dead head to preserve the stamina of the subject. Lavender, Santolina and Buddleia will all be grateful. Don’t prune hard at this time, the removal of dead heads is your goal and brutal trimming, especially onto old wood can be very damaging.
Within days garden centres will be rolling out their autumn offerings and shelves are already filling with winter pansies. The bulbs are arriving too and whilst there is no great panic with many subjects, if you fancy Nerines or autumn crocus then get shopping.
And finally, watch out for end of season spoilers, if we get rain, there will be blight about and the pigeons will pay new attention to luxuriant greens.