The end of winter is near, meaning this month is all about getting ready for spring. Prepare your garden for a fresh burst of colour and new growth by following our August gardening guide.
ON YOUR TO-DO LIST FOR AUGUST
Plant & Sow
Plant spring-flowering seedlings such as alyssum, begonias, calendulas, cinerarias, fairy primrose, impatiens, lobelias, marigolds, pansies, petunias, poppies, snapdragons and stocks.
Sow vegetables such as beetroot, brinjal, beans, cabbage, carrot, green pepper, lettuce, marrows, spinach, turnipsand tomato for harvest in summer.
Plant summer-flowering bulbs and rhizomes like cannas, dahlias, gladiolus, golden arum, nerines, spider lilies, tigridia, and watsonias.
Feed your clematis and fuchsia plants every two weeks with a fertiliser such as Seagro, Nitrosol or Multifeed. You’ll be rewarded with thicker growth and more blooms in summer if you pinch out the tips now.
Start hydrangeas on a blueing programme by feeding them with 25g of aluminium sulphate once every two weeks.
Cut back bougainvilleasthat have finished flowering. Fertilise with 2:3:2 and water well. Stop feeding and watering when first buds appear to encourage the development of flowers.
Feed winter-flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, with bulb food to supply nutrients for next year’s blooms. Don’t remove the yellowing foliage, as this also helps to feed the bulbs.
Feed fruit trees, vines and berry-bearing plants with a fertiliser that is high in nitrogen, such as 3:1:5.
Prune & Trim
Make sure you prune your roses before the middle of August, if you haven’t already done so.
Divide and replant perennials such as agapanthus, cannas, goldenrod, Michaelmas and Shasta daisies, lobelias, phlox, wild iris and wild garlic.
Prune evergreen fruit trees, such as lemons, limes and ornamental orange trees.
In August, the following fruit will be ready to harvest: avocado, bananas, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, naartjies, limes, kumquat, guava, loquats, pawpaw, pineapples, cape gooseberries, granadilla and kiwifruit.
This month is a bumper harvest of vegetables, which include asparagus, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, black radish, daikon (Japanese white radish), Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celeriac, cucumber, endive, horseradish, kale, leeks, garlic, lettuce, mushrooms, new potatoes, onion, pakchoi, parsley, parsnips, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, spring onion, Swiss Chard, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, tatsoi and turnips.
Herbs such mint, sage, thyme, marjoram, oreganum, rosemary, fennel, bay leaves, lavender, parsley, dandelion, nasturtiums, garlic chives, winter savoury, calendula, nettle, rocket, sage, bulb fennel, perennial basil, sorrel, bloody sorrel, lemon grass stems, lime leaves, cat mint, green and red mustard and garden cress will all be in abundance in August.
OTHER FRESH IDEAS
Grow your own: Carrots
Carrots are an excellent source of betacarotene (a form of vitamin A), and rich in vitamins C, B1 and B2. Freshlypicked carrots taste vastly different from the ones you buy at the supermarket. If there is any vegetable worth growing yourself, it must surely be the humble carrot, which can be used raw in salads, cooked and eaten on their own, or added to soups, stews and other dishes. Experiment with different varieties – they’re available in purple, red, white and yellow. Here’s how to grow your own:
Clear out a patch of sandy or loamy soilwith a pH of 6.0–6.8 (you can measure this with a specialised soil pH-testing kit) by removing stones, rocks and even large pieces of bark. Obstructions in the soil tend to result in a misshapen, stunted crop.
Carrots thrive in loose soil that is deeplytilled. Avoid using poorlydrained, heavier soils, as well as light soils that could be easily blown away.
Carrots are known to be slow to germinate, and it’s important to water regularly and keep the soil moist. To help retain moisture and speed up germination, gently mulch around seed..
Fertilise with a balanced fertiliser 5–6 weeks after sowing.
Did you know?Only 3% of betacarotene is released during the digestive process when we eat carrots raw. Try pulping or cooking your carrots — this ensures that about 39% of the betacarotene is released.