August – The Promise of Spring
After a wet winter over most of the country I am sure that we have all had enough of winter but the end is in sight and we see glimpses of it all over despite the mud. August, although sometimes the bleakest of months, brings the promise of Spring.
Once spring arrives starting next month, things will all happen at once so use this month to get ready. Clean and organise pots, seed trays, tools, seed raising mix and seeds. Mark out new beds if you are starting from the scratch. Avoid walking on wet ground or cultivating wet gardens but get beds all ready for the new season planting. As the soil dries up over the month get in and dig over your beds, removing any perennial weeds such as dock and couch, add plenty of manure and compost, turn over winter mulches, dig over green crops, add blood and bone and depending on what you plan to grow, some lime. Leave the beds to settle and for the earth worms and all the microcosms in a healthy soil to do their work. The more you can tend your soil at this end of the season the more successful your vegetable beds will be.
It’s too early to sow much outside except for peas and broad beans. Peas need to go into a well manured trench with some added lime. Autumn sown broad beans can be staked and the tops pinched out if necessary. New potatoes can be chitted this month by putting seed potatoes in egg cartons or boxes of straw and left in a warm light place to sprout. If you plant them too early, especially if the soil is wet, they can rot before they get a chance to grow. At the same time prepare the soil in your potato bed as above and add some potato fertilser – by the time the potatoes have sprouted the soil will be warmed and ready.
You can get a head start on spring by sowing leafy green and brassica seeds in a warm place. Visit your local garden centre to see what’s growing, purchase seed potatoes and maybe the odd punnet of brassicas to pop in a warm part of the garden. Don’t forget herbs such as parsley and flowers such as marigold or poppy and nasturtium to edge beds and bring the bees. Make a practice of only buying as many punnets as you can plant straight away – I don’t know how many plants I have lost by leaving them sitting for weeks. Protect everything from frost and once things are actively growing start liquid fertilizing.
Jobs for this Month
Sow. Beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cauli, silverbeet, spinach, turnip – all can be sown in trays in a warm sheltered position. Sow broad beans direct into ground. Sow indoors; artichoke, celery, lettuce, leeks. Sow herbs like coriander, parsley and thyme.
Plant: Garlic can still go in.
Cultivate: Weed and fertilise growing plants.
Harvest: Silverbeet, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, leeks, parsnips, winter lettuce and mizuna.
Prepare: Beds for asparagus plants, rhubarb, potatoes and your potting bench for spring sowing.