AUGUST IN THE GARDEN
August heralds the beginning of the new spring season. The garden starts to burst forth with new growth and early spring blooms. A prime example of the magic of nature at work with a whole new growth cycle commencing. Work in the garden increases proportionately to the growth phase and is vital right now in order to maximise the potential of spring. Fertilising or nourishing the whole garden commences now and continues through summer until autumn. Lawns need treating and feeding. Composting and mulching are important for many trees and shrubs. Myriads of plants come into season, transforming nurseries and garden centres into alluring attractions for gardeners and homeowners alike. The new gardening season starts now!
- Keep on with watering and fertilising annuals and perennials until the first spring rains fall.
- Many winter and spring flowering annuals are at their best during August.
- Dead heading (the removal of spent flowers) is vital in extending the life expectancy of most annual flowers. Don’t allow them to set seed and they will carry on forming new flower buds.
- Pick cut flowers like Iceland poppies, stocks, sweet peas and snapdragons to beautify the home.
- Keep hanging baskets well-watered and fed as temperatures begin to rise.
- Make early sowings of summer flowers in frost free climates – cosmos, sunflowers, marigolds and nasturtiums.
- Continue harvesting winter vegetables as they ripen.
- Plant out rhubarb, shallots, garlic and globe artichokes.
- Make first sowings of summer crops like runner beans, dwarf beans, maize, sweet corn, pumpkins and squashes in the warmer regions.
- Plant out seedlings of early tomatoes, peppers, chillies and egg plants in frost free climates.
- Plant seed potatoes in rows in the garden or in suitable containers.
- Top dress and fertilise perennial crops like asparagus and globe artichokes.
- Water well to ensure optimum crop levels.
- Sow early crops of summer herbs like sweet basil, coriander and rocket.
- Plant more parsley, you never seem to have enough.
- Split chives and garlic chives and replant in freshly prepared soil.
- Prune back any woody herbs that have grown out of hand during the cool winter.
- Begin with spring feeding with a balanced fertiliser – 2:3:2 is good now.
- Plant out young strawberry plants.
- Sow seed of Cape gooseberries.
- Continue to harvest ripe fruit crops.
- Protect early flowering peach blossoms from frost damage.
- Citrus trees will be blooming shortly. Apply a dressing of LAN and keep them well watered.
- New season summer and autumn flowering bulbs are ready for planting. These include dahlia tubers, hippeastrums (amaryllis), tigridias, gladiolus, eucomis and galtonias.
- Cut back cannas and other untidy perennials and bulbs that have finished flowering down to ground level. This excludes perennials that have started new spring growth.
- Prune back fuchsias by two thirds of their height when all danger of frost is over. Feed immediately after cutting back with a 3:1:5 slow release nitrogen fertiliser.
- Prune back autumn and winter flowering shrubs like leonotis, poinsettias and hypoestes and fertilise before mulching.
- Feed camellias and azaleas after flowering to promote healthy new growth.
- Water during extremely dry periods. It’s costly to allow mature trees and shrubs to die from lack of water.
- Colourful filler plants in season – dianthus, carnations, osteospermums, argyranthemums, petunias, calibrachoas.
- Prune any roses that may still need pruning during the first week. This is the last opportunity to undertake winter pruning before new growth begins in earnest.
- Spray pruned roses with lime sulphur again only if dormant and no new growth has sprouted yet.
- Mulch and fertilise newly pruned roses.
- Deep water at least weekly to encourage new spring growth.
- Check for aphids on young growth and treat.
- Scarify and aerate deep rooted grass types like kikuyu and cynodon before top dressing. Do not do this to surface grasses like Berea or buffalo grass.
- Apply a dressing of lawn compost or river sand and the first application of fertiliser. A root stimulating fertiliser like 2:3:2 is advisable.
- An application of agricultural lime at the beginning of the growing season helps to improve lawn growth tremendously.
- Water immediately after this treatment. If not able to, then wait until the first rains before commencing with spring lawn care.
- Watch out for snails and slugs. Apply bait as soon as activity is detected. Young new growth on many perennials and shrubs is ravaged by them.
- Be vigilant in spotting pests and diseases, especially aphids on new growth.
- Repot water lilies and other aquatic plants in pots.
- Irrigation systems need to be checked and maintained after the winter season, especially in cold climates.
Spring is the time of plans and projects.