In August some places will be miserably cold, windy and dry, while others will be miserably cold, wet and still dark when you wake up. But take heart – this will soon be a thing of the past! August is not a hot favourite with gardeners, but the promise of spring is already in the air with the sweet scent of jasmine. If you tackle the mundane but necessary tasks now, you will have time for lots of really ‘amazing’ planting later.
•Clear the garden of weeds, down to the last seedling growing between the cracks of the paving, and get the soil into prime planting condition by adding copious amounts of compost to new and planted beds. Do not dig it in as this will just encourage new weeds to germinate. Just leave it on top!
•Give lawns the spring treatment, which means a sharp cut (scarifying); severe raking to remove the old, dead mat; spiking with a garden fork to allow air, food and water to reach the root system; generous feeding with a lawn fertiliser and, finally, a bit of levelling out and covering with an organic blanket, called lawn dressing.
Note that this treatment should only be applied to runner-type lawns like Kikuyu and some of the tougher Cynodon grasses. Do not scarify cool-season lawns like Kentucky Blue, tuft-type perennial grasses or blended mixes like All Season’s Evergreen or Shade Over.
•Tie all standard roses and young plants securely to their stakes to prevent wind damage. Do not throttle them though. A relaxed tieback in the form of a figure eight around the stake and the main stems, which allows some movement, works fine.
•Apply fertiliser with a high potassium content to your bulbs that have completed their flowering. This will induce the development of next year’s embryo flower within the bulb. Do not cut off their dying leaves as they still feed the bulb.
Divide clumps of overgrown perennials, replant them with compost and feed with 3:1:5 fertiliser. As the weather warms up, cut back fuchsias by a third, mulch with compost and feed with a high-nitrogen fertiliser to encourage new growth.
Repot container-grown plants into a pot one size bigger. Towards the end of August, start pinching out the growing tips of shoots as soon as they develop two pairs of leaves, as this will result in a bushier, more floriferous plant.
Hydrangeas can be pruned now and you can start feeding them towards the end of August. For intense blue flowers, sprinkle 25g of aluminium sulphate around the root zone of the bush and water very well.
•Peaches, apricots, plums, nectarines, apples and pears will be coming into flower this month. Feed with 3:1:5, allowing 100g for young trees and 200g for more mature trees. Give a dose of magnesium sulfate to any citrus trees with yellowing leaves, along with a general feed. Also feed pineapples, pawpaws, granadillas, figs, mangoes and strawberries with 3:1:5 granular fertiliser. Seeds of Cape gooseberries can be sown now, and asparagus crowns planted.
Sow beans and a row or two of carrots in situ. Leeks, beetroot, radish, parsnips and turnips can also be sown in the latter part of August. When the main flower head of broccoli has been harvested, feed the plants with a high-nitrogen food to force production of secondary shoots.
Please visit us at Tuingenoot, our friendly staff, always ready to help. You can find us on the corner of Lyttleton & Old Johannesburg Road, Centurion. Telephone: 012-6600103
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