AUGUST in the vegetable garden – advice from Geoff Hodge and Miracle Grow

vegetables

Although August is typically one of the warmest months of the year, with an average of six hours of sunshine every day, there can still be periods of rain. But it’s certainly a great month to enjoy the results of all that hard work earlier in the year. Barbecues, al fresco dining, and in the fruit and veg  garden, it much more about picking veg than growing veg. That is the main task: picking lots of tasty fruit and vegetables and just pottering around keeping the garden looking great. It’s the  reward to enjoy to the full.

Vegetables

All vegetables will need a regular, constant supply of water at their roots. This will help strong, healthy growth, help to avoid diseases, disorders and bolting – running to seed prematurely – and tough or tasteless vegetables.

Beans need sufficient water to help the pods set and prevent them becoming tough and stringy.

Aubergine, courgette, cucumber, marrow, pepper, squash and tomato plants should be kept well watered so they produce the maximum number of juicy fruit.

Ensure that all vegetables get plenty of nutrients to ensure fabulous, tasty crops. Leafy vegetables can be fed with Miracle-Gro Gro Your Own Vegetable & Fruit Concentrated Liquid Plant Food, whereas all fruiting crops – including pea and beans – should be fed with Tomorite or Tomorite Pour & Feed.

Carrots: take care when thinning out late-sown carrot seedlings to prevent the scent released attracting carrot fly. To protect them from carrot fly cover the soil and developing plants with fleece.

Where crops have been harvested and nothing else will be grown this year, sow green manures, which will act as a soil improver and cover bare soil and prevent nutrients being washed away. When dug in during spring, they conserve nutrients and improve soil texture.

Or, after clearing old crops, improve the soil with Miracle-Gro Grow Your Own Vegetable & Fruit Enriched Compost, Levington Organic Blend Farmyard Manure or Levington Organic Blend Soil Conditioner. Then cover the soil with black plastic sheeting to suppress weed growth.

Topical tip

Developing marrows and squashes should be raised off the ground slightly (place them on a tile or similar), to prevent them rotting from contact with the soil. If necessary, remove some of the older leaves to ensure the fruit receive plenty of direct sunlight.


 Fruit

During dry spells water tree, bush and cane fruit thoroughly every seven to 14 days to ensure bumper crops. Pay particular attention to wall-trained fruit, especially stone fruit.

Mulching all fruit with a 7.5-10cm (3-4in) thick layer of Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Decorative Pine Bark or Levington Water Saving Decorative Bark will help retain moisture around the roots as well as keeping weeds away.

Branches of many fruit trees, but especially plums and greengages, often collapse and snap under the weight of fruit produced, so make sure you support branches with heavy crops with a stout V-shaped stake.

Now’s the time to prepare new strawberry beds for planting up in the autumn or early next year. To ensure new plants grow and fruit well, improve the soil with Miracle-Gro Gro Your Own Vegetable & Fruit Enriched Compost or Miracle-Gro Peat Free All Purpose Enriched Compost.

Cleanliness and hygiene are the best ways of preventing disease problems on fruit.

Remove apples, pears and plums affected with brown rot to prevent this disease spreading to otherwise healthy fruit and causing problems next year.

Gather fallen diseased leaves from apples and pears affected by scab and dispose of them.

If bacterial canker is a problem on stone fruit trees, prune out affected branches by the end of the month.

Topical tip

Tie in and train the new shoots of blackberries and hybrid berries. Always try to keep the new shoots separate from the older, fruiting ones to make pruning out the fruited shoots later in the year easier.


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