August 18 - August 25
It's worth collecting the drying seed heads of lupins and storing them in brown paper bags, hanging in a dry airy place until the seeds fall from the pods naturally.
It's worth collecting the drying seed heads of Lupins and storing them in brown paper bags, hanging in a dry airy place until the seeds fall from the pods naturally. These can be cleaned and stored correctly later, ready to sow in early spring.
Hoe those weeds
Keep up with the weeding in all parts of the garden. Weeds not only compete for space in the borders, but also use up valuable moisture in the ground. The best tool for weeding is the Dutch hoe, which is used with a pushing and pulling action. The idea is to cut off the top of the weed just below the surface, leaving the tops to dry out in the sun. A dry sunny day is the best time to do this. It is well worth doing as it maintains a weed-free garden and it gives a good crumbly structure to the soil surface that will help prevent it drying out.
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Take the strain
Fruit trees will be laden now and some branches may be bending under the weight. These should be propped up to prevent the branches from breaking and possibly damaging the whole tree.
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Getting into shape
As the weather cools and the days get shorter, plants in the garden will stop growing, which makes this the perfect time to trim hedges, as they will not grow much from now until spring, but they will have time to put on a little cover before winter. This includes summer pruning of fruit trees, which need to have the new growth removed to maintain the shape and health of the tree. Complete the summer pruning of wisterias now for the same reasons to thin new growth to the flowering framework.
Beware of pests
Be vigilant during this warm weather for pests and diseases such as mildew. This white powdery fungal disease is very common at this time and it is worth spraying plants with a preventative fungicide such as copper sulphate. Attacks of powdery mildew will not kill the plant but it does weaken it and spoils the look. Honeysuckle, roses and begonias seem to be most prone in the flower garden and courgettes in the vegetable garden.
Encourage the roses
Continue to dead head roses to extend their flowering time. Climbing roses should be pruned back to a good framework and tied in to the supports now. It is too late to spray for black spot on roses. To help prevent it next year rake up leaves that are infected and burn or bin them. Do not put them on the compost. Treat the roses with a winter wash in January with something like Jeyes fluid and spray with a fungicide from early next summer.
The fruit area also needs some attention; the summer fruiting raspberries have done so well this year, with a great crop from early July. Now is the time to prune out all the fruited canes from this year to allow the new canes that will fruit next year to come up. The new canes will also need to be thinned; the aim of this is to reduce each plant to 3-5 healthy stems that can be tied into the training wires to produce a good crop next summer.
One last tip - all the shops and garden centres are selling off much of the summer stock now! If you want a cheap hose pipe or mower get down to the DIY stores and supermarkets. As it has been a particularly wet season there are many bargains, particularly garden furniture. Store it until next summer, which may be a hot one.