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Look after your fruit and veg

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > In the Garden

Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Monday, 10th August 2020, 11:10

Maybe you are not heading off this August as usual. Keep gardening and you will reap the benefit in the weeks to come, and perhaps you will get to eat all your own runner beans, which usually run to seed whilst you are away!

If you want some spinach to overwinter, late August is the time to start. Sow it in a spot in full sun and, before sowing, apply a general fertiliser like pelleted chicken manure to give it a good start. Follow the directions on the packet for distances, etc.
To prolong flowering displays, carry on feeding your tubs and window boxes with a weak solution of liquid fertiliser every week, and dead-head the spent flowers. This can be fiddly but it really is worth doing.

Prevent butterflies laying eggs on leaves

The cabbage white butterfly caterpillar is often a nuisance on the vegetable plot in August. It feeds on cabbages, as well as nasturtiums, sprouts, turnips and swedes. You can use insect netting to prevent the butterflies laying the eggs on the underside of the leaves, or you can remove them by hand. What you then do with them is up to you!

Keep your tomatoes and peppers consistently moist throughout the growing season or the roots don’t absorb nutrients properly and can get blossom end rot (light brown spots appear at the flower end of the fruit). Only apply a liquid fertiliser when the soil is moist.

Cut back rambler roses

If grown in a restricted space the old flowering stems of rambler roses should be cut close to the ground now and the new branches tied in to replace them using loppers or a sharp pruning saw.
One of the best ways to grow ramblers is to let them have their head and climb up large established trees, but you do need to have plenty of room. In this situation they can just be left to, well, ‘ramble’, which is what they do! The large ones like ‘Kiftsgate’ love this treatment.

Grow plants for free

Why not try to save your own seed – collect ripe seed of aquiegias, poppies, alliums and any other summer flowers that you have. Clean them, removing the pods and bits and pieces, and store in little envelopes in the fridge.

Look online to see when and how to sow. It’s nice to have plants for free and you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment growing your ‘own’ plants rather than those from garden centres.

I recently read an old tip in a book to stop birds pecking the fruit on your trees – tie a bag of mothballs to the lowest branch. Does it work? Well, who knows but perhaps one of you will try it and let me know!

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