Gardening in August
It’s ALMOST spring…
This month there’s a sense that winter is almost over. Flower and growth buds on deciduous trees and shrubs, roses and fruit trees start to swell and show tinges of colour, the early daffodils and jonquils burst into flower and camellias and magnolias are at their peak of flowering.
While the garden may be starting to come alive, don’t be fooled into thinking the worst of the season’s weather is over. August is often the coldest, and windiest, month of the year in the southern states. Just as the blossom trees are looking spectacular, their flowers are shattered by squally gusts and often heavy rain.
What to plant now:
Bare-root roses, fruit trees and deciduous ornamentals should all be planted as soon as possible, before they burst into growth. In warmer regions, Australian native plants, evergreen trees, shrubs and climbers can continue to be planted. Check out what’s in stock in your garden centre.
- Seasonal flowers:
Advanced or flowering plants of pansies, violas, bellis, calendulas, cinerarias, cornflowers, hollyhocks, sweet William, verbenas and polyanthus can be planted out later in the month in cooler areas. In warm temperate to tropical areas try bedding begonias, marigolds, impatiens and nasturtiums.
- Woody and perennial herbs:
“Hard” herbs - rosemary, sage, thyme, bay laurel, oregano, mint* – may be planted now in warm climates. “Soft” herbs – parsley, basil, coriander, chives, tarragon – may be grown indoors in cooler areas or outdoors in warmer climates.
*Mint should be grown in a pot to stop it becoming invasive.
- Winter and spring vegetables:
Keep planting beetroot, brassicas, peas, rhubarb crowns and artichoke suckers in warmer areas. In the cooler south, plant rhubarb and asparagus crowns and strawberries.
The Vegetable Patch:
Winter veggies, including cabbage, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, silver beet and leafy greens like lettuce, should still be going strong. The very first of the new season’s asparagus tips may pop up later in the month – keep an eye out and cut them when about 15cm tall – they will be tender and delicious!
What to plant now:
Continue planting certified virus-free strawberry plants and runners. Rhubarb and asparagus crowns may still be available and should be planted as soon as possible.
In cooler areas, later in the month, sow seeds of:
- Broad bean
- French bean
- Dwarf pea
- Climbing pea
- Silver beet
In temperate to warm areas plant seedlings of:
- Chinese cabbage
- Kohl rabi
- Potato tuber
Veggie patch tips for August:
- Give newly planted seedlings a good start with regular applications of a liquid fertiliser for vegetables and herbs such as Osmocote Boost+Feed Vegetables, Tomatoes & Herbs or a certified organic fertiliser once a month.
- Water every few days if the weather is dry.
- Hand pull or hoe out weeds as they appear – they compete for nutrients and moisture and may also harbour pests that could attack your crops.
- As winter crops finish, pull out the plants and put them into the compost bin if they are disease-free.
- Start preparing empty beds now for planting out seedlings next month. Dig over to break up the soil, fork in plenty of compost and a complete fertiliser.
Fruit & Flower Beds:
Fruits to harvest now:
In late winter, it’s only the warmer parts of the country that will have any ripe fruit to harvest, and most of it will be citrus – mandarins, tangelos, grapefruit and lemons.
What fruit to plant:
Evergreen fruiting plants such as passionfruit vines and citrus may still be planted in warm to tropical areas. Bare-rooted deciduous fruit and nut trees and vines should be planted as soon as possible before they start to shoot and flower. Some garden centres may already have them potted up and in flower.
What flowers to plant:
Bare-root roses are still available and, like fruit trees, should be in the ground very soon! Some nurseries sell them already potted up – they can be planted now or left until they are fully in leaf before transplanting into the garden. Spring flowering annuals will in full bloom now, but it’s not too early to start thinking about summer flowers.
In cool areas, sow seeds into seed trays of:
- Bedding begonia
- Sweet William
In warmer areas, plant annual seedlings of:
Garden jobs for the month:
- Keep flowering annuals and bulbs growing and flowering well with regular applications of Osmocote Boost+Feed All Plant Types.
- Finish pruning deciduous trees and shrubs as soon as possible. DO NOT prune blossom trees (Prunus, etc) or Spring flowering shrubs – wait until after they have flowered.
- As soon as “bud swell” is noticed on fruiting and flowering trees and shrubs, apply a copper-based spray to prevent the occurrence of fungal diseases like mildews and leaf curl. Apply to fruit trees again after flowering, when fruits are just starting to form.
- Last chance to sow a “green manure” crop of oats, peas and field lupins into empty vegetable beds; dig it in to add nitrogen to the soil when about 300-400mm in height.
Plants inside the home assist in purifying the air as well as lending a touch of greenery to your living areas.
- Natural light is important but don’t stand pots on north or west-facing windowsills where they will be exposed to direct sun through the glass.
- Keep plants away from heaters and air conditioners that can dry the atmosphere.
- Place a saucer or bowl of water near your plants to humidify the air.
- Wipe leaves occasionally with a damp cloth to keep them clean.
- Feed every few weeks with ready to use Osmocote Pour+Feed Indoor Plants – no mixing required.
If you didn’t have time to give the mower a service last month, do it now before spring when it will be called into service quite frequently. As winter gradually recedes and the days become longer and a little warmer, the lawn will have quite a growth spurt - now is the time to fertilise. The type of fertiliser you use will depend on the health of your lawn.
- A general purpose fertiliser like Lawn Builder All Purpose Slow Release Lawn Food, Lawn Builder Buffalo Slow Release Lawn Food or Lawn Builder Extreme Green Slow Release Lawn Food (all granular fertilisers that will feed your lawn for up to three months and suitable for all types of grass) will suit most situations.
- However, if you have a broadleaf weed problem, then you may need to use Lawn Builder + Weedkill Slow Release Lawn Food but READ THE LABEL FIRST! This fertiliser cannot be applied to buffalo grasses and some other lawn substitutes.
- Buffalo grasses and lawn substitutes can be treated and fed with Lawn Builder Buffalo Weed, Feed & Green Up, a hose-on product that can be safely used on all lawn types. However, it is not a slow release, long lasting lawn food. An application of Lawn Builder All Purpose or Lawn Builder Buffalo after eight weeks will keep the lawn growing strongly through to Summer.
- Control moss in shady areas with a solution of iron sulfate (30 grams in 4.5L of water) applied as a spray or with the watering will help control it. Re-apply if necessary.
- If you’ve already fertilised the lawn when you notice broadleaf weeds including bindii spreading, use Lawn Builder Bindii, Clover & Broadleaf hose-on to eradicate them.
In the warmer north:
- Water lawns deeply once a week if there’s no rain.
- Remove weeds either by hand or with Lawn Builder Bindii, Clover & Broadleaf hose-on.
- Apply a Lawn Builder Slow Release granular fertiliser to feed the lawn for up to three months.
- Watch for the caterpillars of the White Cabbage Butterfly on cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and other brassicas. Pyrethrum will assist or try a cabbage dust.
- Slugs and snails can be active whenever there are young plants around – Defender Snail & Slug Pellets in a bait trap will protect your plants and keep your pets safe.