Does it feel ever-so-slightly like your garden has already peaked? With evenings getting shorter and mornings getting cooler, not to mention the seed heads which seem to multiply day by day, there’s a touch of autumn lurking about the garden, hovering just out sight, but we can feeI it.
But we’re not about to give up on summer just yet. The act of planting and the daily checks to watch for those green shoots is so addictive, we want it to carry on. And with August still only halfway through, there’s plenty of good growing to be done!
So what’s good to plant in August?
In the flower garden
Well, firstly, it’s a good month to plan ahead for next year’s garden. Planting the seeds of hardy annuals now, while the days are still longer than the nights, and the soil is warm, gives them a good start so that come next spring they’ll be raring to go, and will give you an early display next year. Think poppies, cornflowers, calendula… they may still be clinging on this summer, but already you can give them a helping hand for next year’s display.
And if you fancy growing your own winter colour, planting seeds in August should give flowers ready to plant in November. Think of the happiness that a simple pot of pansies can bring as winter sets in, when all around is losing its colour… more than worth a few moments now to get them started.
In the veg garden
In August there’s still time for the final summer crops. Plant fast-growing radishes and continue to sow lettuces and spinach for a continuous supply. Radicchio and endive can also add variety to autumn salads. There’s even time to squeeze in another crop of fast-growing beans. ‘Speedy’ can crop in as little as 60 days, so you’ll have lovely fresh beans in October – truly a last taste of summer! Or go for fast-growing carrot varieties like ‘Adelaide’, which should crop before the weather closes in.
And talking of the taste of summer, now’s the time to plant your strawberry runners, once they’ve rooted. For next year’s cream teas, jam and of course Pimm’s, it’s best to make use of these new plants that strawberries thoughtfully provide, as older plants become less fruitful each year – simply start again with young, vigorous plants!
August is also the time to look ahead to next spring. Get hardy varieties of spring onions in the ground in August, and also Swiss chard which can be picked in the autumn as young leaves, or left to overwinter for cropping in the spring. Cabbages can also still be sown, ideal for cropping in the ‘hungry gap’ next April when there’s not much else around for harvesting. ‘April’ is a great variety for this – the clue is in the name!
There’s still lots to sow and grow in August to give that green-fingered thrill, even as the season starts to wind down - so get planting!