Vegetable Gardening in Summer
What to do in Vegetable Garden in August
Gather all vegetables as they ripen. Crops such as peas, beans and courgettes must be gathered regularly and frequently. They are at their best when young and tender, and the plants will stop cropping if too many 'fruits' are allowed to mature. It is much better to give away any surplus than to leave it on the plant. If you are going away on holiday this month, follow the procedure recommended in July and make arrangements for a neighbour to look after the vegetables by picking any that are ready.
Root vegetables in particular should be kept well watered during any dry spells or else they will stop growing. Even worse, when the rains do come there will be a sudden surge of growth that will cause them to split.
Recently transplanted cabbages and other brassicas are especially susceptible to drying out. Watering with a sprinkler is usually unnecessary as a watering can is perfectly adequate. Rows of seedlings are also likely to dry out quite quickly, and should also be watered with a can.
What Vegetables to Harvest in August
Check runner beans every day, and keep picking them before the beans begin to bulge or they will be tough and stringy. Pick them regularly to encourage the plants to continue flowering and therefore producing more and more beans, any left on the plant that go to seed can stop more flowers forming.
In a hot summer, sweetcorn may be ready towards the end of the month. The silky tassels should have turned from yellow to brown, but don't leave it until the tassels have withered up, or the sweetcorn will be past its best and tasteless.
Second early and main crop potatoes can be lifted, as and when you need them. Onions, too, will be ready for harvesting. Lever them out of the ground with a garden fork, and spread them out on the surface of the soil for a few days to dry. Once dry, any caked earth can be brushed off, and they can either be stored in shallow boxes or made into, old fashioned onion ropes, saving valuable space in garden sheds.
Keep harvesting carrots, beetroot, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, radish, pepper, self blanching celery and endive. Pep up your salads with fresh herbs such as basil, sorrel and tarragon.
Collect the ripe seeds of herbs such as fennel, dill and caraway for resowing.
Blanching and Earthing-Up
Start blanching endive, to make them less bitter. The blanching process takes about two weeks, and the easiest way to go about it is to cover each plant with a large, upturned flower pot. Cover the hole in the pot with a stone or cap of aluminium foil, to keep out all light. Blanch the endive a few at a time, over several weeks, rather than all at once.
Other vegetables to continue blanching include leeks and celery. With leeks, a good 25-30 cm (10-12 in) of white stem is ideal. Don't forget, especially with celery, to take precautions against soil getting into the heart of the plant when you are earthing up.
The treatment of tomatoes this month is much the same as for July. Carry on feeding and watering.
After harvesting put all healthy leafy vegetation on the compost heap. Do not put woody, tough, vegetation, such as brassica or globe artichoke stems, and anything that looks diseased on the heap. These should go straight onto the bonfire. Don't forget that bonfire ash is an excellent source of potash so it can be spread on the garden after.
What Vegetable Seeds to Sow in August
There is still time for sowing quick growing crops that can be harvested in the next couple of months, and those that will carry on over winter to provide vegetables next spring. Lettuce sown now will provide crops in mid-to-late autumn, but you should be ready to provide cloche protection when the night temperatures drop.
Choose a sheltered spot for sowing Japanese onions and spring onions, in rows 23 cm (9 in) apart
Both winter and summer radishes can be sown now, but give summer radishes a partially shady spot, or they may bolt. Winter radishes will remain happily in the ground until you are ready to lift them for cold-weather salads, and can be also be lifted in late autumn and stored, like other root vegetables until needed.
Make final sowings of stump-rooted carrots and turnips, together with spring cabbage. Winter spinach is also sensible choice if you want greens through autumn followed by fresh growth in spring.
Vegetables in Season
Courgettes, marrows & cucumbers
French green beans
Lettuce and salad leaves
Peas and sugar-snap peas
Salad (spring) onions
Main crop onions