The Veg Garden In August

August should be the hottest month in the year. The Garden is looking at its best and many fruits and vegetables are ready to harvest from The Patch.

Second Early Potatoes are ready to dig. They are good ‘salad potatoes’ which don’t disintegrate on cooking and work well in hot or cold salads. Charlotte and Maris Peer are also suitable for baking, mashing, frying and roasting. 

French and Runner Beans are cropping well this month so pick every couple of days to keep the plants producing flowers and more beans. Water plants at least 3 times per week and spray the flowers in the evening with water to ensure the beans set. Pick French Beans when thin and tender. You will only need to cook them for 4 minutes.

It is the main harvesting time for Courgettes. Keep cutting them with a sharp knife when they are the size of a banana and they will keep flowering and producing more fruit. If the leaves show powdery mildew the plant is stressed so remove the affected foliage immediately and water copiously. Feed with a high nitrogen liquid feed. Cougettes are such versatile vegetables. They are fantastic in Soufflees, with pasta in Courgette and Bacon Carbonnara, or rice in Tomato and Courgette Rissoto, ribboned in a Minted Salad, in Homemade Soup, fried as Fritters, spiralised and cooked as Noodles, stuffed with sausage and herbs or sliced long ways and barbecued.

A very easy vegetable to grow is Sweet Corn. Plant the young plants in blocks approximately 60cms apart at the beginning of June. The male flowers are at the top of the plant and pollinate the female flowers below to produce the cobs. Apply plenty of water to each plant to swell the cobs which are ready to harvest when the male flowers at the top go brown and the corn exudes a milky sap. Check often towards the end of the month to ensure the freshest sweetest cobs.

The early Onion varieties can be harvested when the “necks” naturally bend over. Lift and allow to completely dry before weaving them into plaits to store for winter. Seeds of Japanese Onion varieties can be sown at the end of August for fresh onions early next summer.

The “Veg Patch” will start to clear when you have picked the Peas and Broad Beans and dug the Early Potatoes.  There is though still time to plant seeds of Rocket for late salads, Pak Choi for stir fries, Spinach for all those vitamins and Turnips a great autumn root vegetable for soups and stews as the weather gets colder.

August is the month to prune Plum and Cherry Trees. Pruning at this time of year prevents the spores of the fungus disease Silver Leaf, which appear in autumn and winter, from entering any freshly cut surfaces. Silver Leaf will weaken the tree and cause affected branches to die.

Summer fruiting Raspberries will have been harvested by now so the old canes should be removed at ground level and the strong new canes loosely tied to the support. Feed the plants with chicken manure or fish blood and bone and water regularly. Remove any thin or damaged canes to promote strong growth for next season. Autumn fruiting varieties like Joan J and Autumn Bliss will start to fruit towards the end of August and carry on well into September. Keep watering these regularly so the berries become plump and harvest them when they are dark red.

Blackberries and Loganberries are ready to harvest in August. The new canes are also growing vigorously so select the strongest and tie onto the support for fruiting next year. These plants produce a lot of canes so it is important to only retain what you need to avoid overcrowding. Remove the old canes when the harvest is finished.

Blackcurrants will have finished fruiting so remove the fruiting stems and give the plants a good layer of rotted compost or manure to encourage new fruiting growth. Red currants should have the side stems cut back to 10cms from the main stem which encourages flower buds and therefore fruit next year.