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2 August 2013

August Tasks for the Vegetable Gardener

Along with July, August is the height of summer and in theory we should enjoy long sunny days and high temperatures. If you are going away on holiday here are a few points for you to consider:-

1) Ask a neighbour to pick your crops as well as water them. French and runner beans, peas, tomatoes, courgettes and cucumbers need regular harvesting to encourage the plants to continue to crop.

2) Provide support well in advance for peas, beans, tomatoes and sweetcorn.

3) Move plants in containers to a shady position, then water well and apply a mulch to the surface of the pot to help retain moisture.

There are various maintenance jobs to carry out this month to keep you busy:-

Pinch out the growing tip of your runner beans when they reach the top of their canes to encourage bushier growth below.

Regularly pick all climbing, dwarf and runner beans. I currently have an excess of broad beans and have been busy blanching and freezing them.

Stopping your tomato plants means cutting off the growing tip so the plant's energy is not diverted into producing foliage rather than fruit. Doing this now will encourage your tomatoes to swell and ripen. Stop them a few leaves after a truss.

Keep on top of your tomato watering as irregular watering causes blossom end rot.

Irregular watering can lead to the splitting of root vegetables and flower abortion in runner beans. Help prevent this by watering well during dry spells.

When watering your vegetables give plants an occasional thorough soaking rather than watering little and often, applying water directly to the soil.

Spend some time with your hoe. Hot weather will dry up weeds and destroy them before they get a chance to re-root.

Marrows should be raised off the ground slightly so that they don't discolour from contact with the soil.

Continue earthing up celery, putting a layer of paper between the stems and the soil.

You will need good ventilation in your greenhouse at this time of year and may also need to shade it to prevent the sun from scorching your plants. The easiest method is probably to use a shading wash.

The seeds you could be sowing this month include:-

Spring and Chinese cabbage

Chicory

Kohl rabi

Lambs lettuce and Winter lettuce

Autumn sown onions and Salad onions

Peas

Radish

Spinach

Turnip

Now is the time to plant out savoy cabbages and cauliflowers to grow on for the earliest crop.

As always there are pests and diseases queuing up to attack your plants, so

Look out for fungal spots on bean and pea pods and leaves.

If you find potato or tomato blight deal with it immediately.

Watch tomatoes for blossom end rot, and other ripening problems.

Check plants regularly for aphids and deal with them as soon as you see them. Aphids and blackfly are a particular problem in the greenhouse.

Remove any sweetcorn cobs affected by smut.

Look out for Carrot fly.

Check stored onions for softness and the grey or black mould of neck rot.

I hope you enjoy a happy and pest-free month of gardening.


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