August has arrived and the weather has continued to be glorious, although the odd days we have had showers of rain have been most welcome. I am still watering each evening in the garden and at the allotment and I must say everything is growing well. Even when we get a shower of rain hanging baskets, containers and runner beans need watering as their leaves act like an umbrella. As well as water I am feeding baskets and containers once a week with high potash feed to keep the plants blooming into the autumn.
My begonia hanging baskets at the front of the house are creating great interest and many comments from passers by. I have begonia ‘Apricot Shades’ in them and they look superb at the moment. Around the back I have more baskets with mixed begonias and ‘Fragrant Falls’ outside the back door to add a little fragrance.
As regular readers of my blog will realise, I do love begonias. The ones in the greenhouse have been spectacular and it’s a real pleasure to look in the door. One of my favourites has to be the pink and white picotee called ‘Fairylight’.
The rest of the flower garden is in colour, although the delphiniums have now finished flowering and been cut back. Later flowering perennials like crocosmia really come into their own now along with perennial phlox, and the lavatera is still blooming.
The tree lilies are putting on a spectacular display in their containers but once they finish flowering the old flower heads will be cut off and the pots will be stood out of the way and watering will be stopped. This will allow the foliage to yellow then brown and the leaves to drop before they are cut back in the autumn.
This year I have grown a few dahlias for cutting. They are just starting to bloom and will provide a few cut flowers for the house. I also grow other flowers for cutting like perpetual carnations in pots that are budding nicely. I’ve also got some spray chrysanthemums on the allotment and some gladioli that should be in bloom by the end of the month.
On the allotment I have been busy harvesting and then refilling the ground. All the peas have finished and these have been replaced with a late sowing of lettuces. The ground that had new potatoes on has now got a late planting of dwarf beans and a few radishes. The second early potatoes have had their tops cut off so the skins set before lifting late this month. Keeping the ground filled up as one crop finishes is the easiest way of keeping the plot clean and productive for as long as possible.
French beans sown earlier in year are cropping like mad and I am now picking runner beans by the bag full, despite the bean set being reduced because of high temperatures. Runner beans can put up with any temperature in the day but do not like hot humid night over 15C (60F). When this happens they become stressed and they abort some flowers. Keeping the plants cool by watering well in the evenings and spraying over the foliage helps to reduce the problem.
When it’s hot we eat a lot of salads, and I am still harvesting radish and lettuce. At the moment I am cutting a large romaine cos lettuce called Frisco, these are delicious, especially accompanied by home grown cucumber Bella and tomatoes both harvested from the polytunnel or greenhouse at home.
The brassicas are looking good for the autumn, as are the kohl rabi planted last month. The leeks are filling out nicely in their pipes and the onions are starting to fall over – they will be harvested shortly and those large enough will be prepared for the village show next month.
Earlier in the year the sweetcorn did not look good – the weather turned cold just after I planted them out. They look great now and have some nice cobs forming and are kept moist at the root all the time to help the cobs fill out. Courgettes are producing in abundance and are picked regularly so they keep on coming.
Gardeners are always looking ahead and the carrots Eskimo sown in late June are growing well and should be a nice finger size in time for harvesting at Christmas. Still, these are for later in the year, and there is plenty to get on with harvesting now. Looking at the plot I think this year is going to be a good one.