Heavy gardening tasks may not seem that appealing when the sun is beating down but there’s still work to be done in the allotment. Fortunately it’s largely harvesting the crops sown earlier, but you should also make an effort to keep on top of weeding in the August allotment, and of course there’s watering.
What to grow in August: vegetables
As your climbing beans reach the summit of their canes, keep pinching the growing tips out to encourage even growth along the length of the plant.
Onions, garlic and shallots should be ready to harvest, but a few days before you pull them you should loosen the soil around the base. When the weather promises a dry spell, pull the bulbs, lay them on the soil and allow to dry for as long as you can.
Keep pinching out your tomatoes and feeding them with fertiliser upon watering. You’ll probably need to tie the vines up as the fruits grow heavier. Cucumbers and peppers may also need some support.
Potatoes and brassicas should still be earthed up regularly to protect the tubers and support stems.
If you’re hoping for some Hallowe’en jack o’ lanterns, give your pumpkins (and other squash) a feed with a high potash fertiliser once a week. As the squash grow, place a brick or a tile underneath them to stop the bottoms rotting on the soil.
What to grow in August: fruit
The August allotment is all about berries. If you pegged down your strawberry runners earlier in the season they should be ready to be transplanted now. They like a sunny position in well fertilised soil, with regular watering. Stretching out a sheet of plastic on the bed will conserve moisture and warmth in the soil.
Once you’ve finished picking currants and gooseberries you’ll need to give the bushes a summer pruning, a process which should be repeated in winter. Also any raspberry canes which fruited this year should be cut to the ground by now. Any newly growing canes can be tied in to help them produce for next year. The same applies to new, strong blackberry and hybrid berry canes. This year’s fruiting canes will need to be cut to the ground in autumn.
If your fruit trees – apples, plums, pears – are producing heavily you may need to prop up branched which bowing down with the weight. Some early apples may even be ready to harvest now – if they are ripe, they’ll come away easily when you twist the stalk gently. They can’t be stored so you should eat them straightaway.