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August 2014 Newsletter

August is a great month for so many reasons. There’s not too much work in the vegetable plot yet the harvest keeps coming and the weather is great...hopefully. RHS Tatton Park was at the end of July and if you were lucky enough to go then you’ll have seen all the wonders of the gardening world, but don’t worry if you didn’t, we’ve got a review of all of the best bits from this years show. Although it’s a good time to just enjoy all your hard work and treat yourself to a bit of time off there are some key things which you can get up to. 


August in the Garden...

Now is the best time to plant fruit in your garden. The soil is warm and there’s plenty of time for the plants to establish before the cold weather sets in later in the year. If you don’t have fruit in your garden it’s worth planting them now for a good harvest next year and there’s plenty to choose from so you’re bound to find something that suits you.
If you have a spare wall which is in full sun you could try growing apricots, peaches and nectarines. They don’t take up much space and once established can produce heavy crops. They are perfect for eating fresh from the tree and makes a change from the normal apples, pears, plums and cherries which are common place in fruit gardens.
If apricots, peaches and nectarinesaren’t to your taste, or you don’t have a spare wall, why not grow raspberries or strawberries. These take up even less space and are some of the most delicious fruit that we grow in our garden. Strawberries grow quiet happily in a container, whereas raspberries will do well in a sunny spot against a fence, as will berries, gooseberries and currants.

Autumn planting onions, shallots and garlicare a must if you’re looking for the earliest crop next season. Planting onion sets now will give you a good harvest before the cold weather sets in later in the year whilst autumn planting garlic benefits from a period of cold weather, initiating the side bulbs that will create plump and tasty cloves. If you always grow onions, why not give shallots a go, they are popular with chefs and are much sweeter and tender than many onions.
August is also a great time when you harvest your onions and you can tell that they are ready because the leaves will have toppled over and started to die back. Lift them all in one go and leave outside to dry for a day or two, provided the weather is fine. Otherwise place them on greenhouse staging or hang them from the frame. As long as the neck of the onion is dry and there is plenty of airflow, your onions will have good storage.

By now you’ll probably be harvesting something every day. Courgettes will be at the best when about 6 inches long, a good compromise between size and flavour. New potatoes should be coming in thick and fast and are best eaten a few hours after lifting to keep freshness to the maximum. The same applies to beetroot, carrots and in fact any crop but sometimes you’ll have so many vegetables that you won’t be able to eat it all in one sitting. This is where storing comes in. Like the onions described above, many vegetables can be stored well, like potatoes for example, but others have less shelf life.
Runner beans can become floppy and dry if stored so the best method for these, as with any other member of the bean and pea family, is to freeze them. Other crops, such as tomatoes, beetroot courgette and cucumber can all be used to make delicious preserves. By storing you produce this way you can enjoy them several months down the line as well as eating them straight away, fresh from the plant.     

It’s not too late to sow quick turnaround crops. Any crops that you lift will leave space for more to grow although the end of the growing season is approaching you can still sow seeds of crops which will germinate, grow and be ready for harvest in a relatively short period of time. Beetroot ‘Baby Action’ is a good choice if you’re looking for late season beetroot, because it has a particular quick turnaround for a beetroot. They are smaller and are ideal for pickling and if you love preserves and pickles at Christmas time then this has to be the crop for you. If you still don’t have space in your garden don’t worry, you can still grow vegetables in containers. The round carrots, such as ‘Early French Frame 4 Lisa’, or ‘Atlas’are perfect for both sowing this time of year and for containers.  
There are lots of vegetable for over-wintering that can be  sown now such as Spring Cabbage, Kaleand winter hardylettuce such as Winter Density which has tender heads rather like a large Little Gem and Humila tried and tested hardy butterhead variety. As the nights turn cooler (but not just yet we hope!) cover your crop with Fleece to encourage a longer cropping period well into the winter months.

 

Tips for the garden...

As with all of the RHS Flower Shows, Tatton Park showcases some of the best designs. There were plenty to choose from but our favourite garden was The Vogue Garden, designed by Belinda Belt. The garden has an overall formal and contemporary feel gardens with inspiration taken from, fashion and perfume. The idea of the garden is to mimic a fashion show, using a feature wall and modern and clean paving which symbolises the catwalk. Six silver birch trees are under-planted with grasses and perennials and although it’s very sophisticated, minimal appearance, it also has a relaxing feel.
The other garden we enjoyed was My Garden designed by Alan Nugent. We loved it because the main theme behind the garden was to encourage more people into horticulture. It’s achievable because it’s a garden on a budget and is completely useable; a place to unwind, grow veg and entertain, a proper family garden. There is a solar powered, car exhaust water feature, which is by far the most unusual thing in the garden, everything else is either normal or functional. There is a water butt and irrigation system, a bench, pergola and even a set of wheelie bins for realism. There were loads of great reasons to love this garden but the overall reason why we enjoyed it was because it looked like a garden we could live with.

 


There were some great examples of vegetable growing at Tatton this year and nothing was more impressive than The Forgotten Corner. It had everything that you’d expect a vegetable garden to have and it was designed to the standards of the RHS so looked absolutely amazing. The idea behind the garden was to create a sustainable vegetable plot for a household whose garden is on a corner, unused, or located behind a shed; a situation which I’m sure many of us face. The garden is made up of numerous raised beds that are filled with everything from onions to sweetcorn and there is even a shed with a green roof. In one bed there were beefsteak tomatoes growing along side marigolds, runner beans and courgettes and beautifully coloured brassicas crops.

 


Conserving water is essential at this time of year and at Tatton they water features and water conservation was everywhere. It’s vital to collect as much water as you can to use on your crop because it’s much more economical and the plants will more often than not respond better to water from the sky rather than the tap. Water butts are great but waiting for your watering can to fill up can be a bit tedious so use large trough, it’s a much quicker way to fill up your can.


It’s theschool holidays and getting your kids out in the garden is one of the best ways to keep them entertain. All the bright colours of flowers and vegetables this time of year coincide perfectly and a great example of this was the Making Sense garden which was filled with vibrancy. It’s a child-friendly and educational space predominately designed as a sensory garden. Everything about it has children in mind, from the bright colours and the soft play paving, to the peculiar water feature have and of course a vegetable garden. We think this is a great garden and easy to implement in your own space too.

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