Garden Tips for August
The fruit and vegetable garden
Plant alyssum at the base of fruit trees to ensure the bees will visit. Specific seed blends for aiding pollination are also available.
Use snail bait or organic snail and slug control amongst maturing cabbages and cauliflowers and around new seedlings of lettuces and herbs.
Harvest time for all the winter vegetables – carrots, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, beetroot, and silver beet.
Plant new seedlings of fennel – they will take the baked vegetables to the next level. Put in globe artichokes, but pick off snails regularly – they live in the big, pleated leaves.
Hardier herbs such as thymes, oregano, coriander sage and parsley can be planted. Cos and head lettuce varieties will start the salad patch.
In frost free areas, sprouted potatoes can be planted. Dig a trench and plant them 40cm apart covering lightly with soil as they grow.
The ornamental garden
Prune hydrangeas and hibiscus, taking out dead or old branches at the base. Thin out congestion in the centre of the bush and cut back branches to a double set of leaves.
For blue hydrangea flowers, apply ‘blueing tonic’ (Aluminium Sulphate). For pink flowers, apply lime. White flowers remain the same in any soil.
Plant hedges in soil that has been enriched with compost. To encourage good, thick growth in a new hedge, it’s best to cut the bushes back by a quarter at planting.
Look for dormant perennial plants beginning to shoot through the ground and place a marker stick beside them, so you don’t pull them out by mistake.
Repetition planting: add groups of the same plant around the garden to give it a sense of continuity. Reliable shrubs or tidy strap-leaf plants for this look include loropetalums, and coprosmas, dietes and lomandras.
Make lavender a big thing for summer: if you’re brave enough, cut back lavenders that are beginning to show bud or flower – this will increase their bushiness and overall size for a wow summer flowering.
It’s too early to fertilise roses and other showy summer plants, but adding sheep pellets around the garden releases nitrogen slowly into the garden soil.
Project for August
Invest in a growth fund
Nothing appreciates like a garden where the soil has been conditioned and improved to get the best out of the plants. Early spring is a great time to add plenty of compost, sheep pellets or liquid seaweed to moist soil, so that your garden will thank you when the soil warms up (dries out) to enable planting.