August is not the favourite month for 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 enjoyable planting later.
Things to consider doing in the garden for now is looking at clearing the garden of weeds, down to the very last seedling growing between the cracks of the paving, also to get the soil into prime planting conditions 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 of the soil!
Look at going on the colour run in your garden with annuals: Trays of pretty flowering snapdragon seedlings, both the tall and dwarf varieties, are available now in seedling trays. Also remember that you can still plant pansies and violas, which will flower till late summer if set out in cooler areas of the garden with morning sun and afternoon shade – they are in full flower at your favourite garden centre Tuingenoot, so you will be able to choose the colours you love!
Other colour bursts that are available now include dianthus and petunias, lobelias, begonias, gazanias, and marigolds.
Petunias, whether purchased in trays, hanging baskets or small pots, are always a winner at this time of year. They are not fussy plants and simply require a sunny spot with regular removal of the spent flowers. Feed them regularly with a liquid plant food like Nitrosol, and they will go on for months in your garden, providing splashes of colour!
Look at Giving your lawns the spring treatment they need, 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. This type of 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, as this will be devastating to your lawn areas.
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 just fine.
You can also look at Applying 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 after the flowering which helps the bulb to sort food during its dormant season.
Look at Dividing 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 your 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 and more dense looking plant.
Your 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 or shake ‘n grow around the root zone of the bush and water very well.
All your fruit bearing trees like, Peaches, apricots, plums, nectarines, apples and pears will be coming into flower this month. Feed with 3:1:5, apply an amount of 100g for your younger trees and 200g for the more established ones. Give a dose of Epson salts to any citrus trees with yellowing leaves, along with a general feed. Also look at feeding your 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.
For the vegtable garden you can sow beans and a row or two of carrots. 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.