Gardening tips: Expert on how to grow lavender at home
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August weather can be unpredictable in the UK, and it is important to keep an eye on the conditions. If no rain occurs and the warm weather persists, gardeners are encouraged to keep the garden hydrated, including if they go on holiday. Chris Bonnett, founder of GardeningExpress.co.uk, said: “August tends to be the hottest month of the year, although we can never predict what the British weather is going to do.
“It’s important to be prepared to give your plants some really good hydration.
“A lot of people also go on holiday in August and if you are planning on going away, then it’s a good idea to give your plants a good water before you go and ask a trusted friend or neighbour to oversee everything while you’re away.
“This is also when you want to harvest your vegetables like sweetcorn and courgettes. Just be sure to store them correctly and make use of them while they’re fresh.”
Gardeners should keep on top of pruning throughout August once summer-flowering shrubs have fully blossomed.
The expert said: “Fruit trees such as apples and pears should be pruned once they are trained, and remain in the sunlight for further ripening.
“Plants such as wisteria should be pruned regularly to keep under control, and lavender should be pruned for it to remain compact and bushy.”
Pruning helps to keep plants under control.
Vegetables such as courgettes and sweetcorn should be harvested throughout August.
Potatoes can also be lifted, although gardeners should remember to store them in a hessian bag to allow darkness and ventilation.
Chris said: “Runner beans can be regularly harvested to allow new pods to grow.”
This will also stop the beans from becoming stringy
The gardening expert said: “Remove deadheads to encourage new flowers to develop and to avoid unsightly gardens.
“Concentrate on removing deadheads from perennial plants – such as dahlias and lilies – to promote an ongoing show of blossoms in the garden.
“To remove deadheads simply pinch the stem below the faded flower with your finger and thumb.”
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Cut and dry herbs
August is a great time for cutting herbs such as rosemary and sage.
The expert recommended freezing any leftover herbs to use in dishes and drinks over the coming months.
Chris added: “Promote the growth and survival of the winter frost for perennial herbs like oregano and thyme by simply trimming them.”
Watch out for blight
Blight is also more common during August so gardeners should have a keen eye for it.
It occurs on tomatoes and potatoes and it begins in large brown spots on the stems.
The expert said: “Once you see this, pull off the infected plants. For potatoes, blight appears in small dark patches on the edge of the potato leaves.
“Immediately cut off the top growth to prevent the infectious blight from spreading, then wait a fortnight before harvesting them.”
Mow the lawn and trim hedges
Hedges will need one final trim during August before they stop growing for winter.
To do so, cut the top of the hedge last, and rake away fallen leaves and twigs for a fresh garden.
Chris added: “For lawns, do not use high nitrogen fertiliser as this only encourages growth, which will be harmed by the upcoming autumn weather.
“The late summer means a slower lawn growth, so ensure that lawn mowers are set to a higher cut.”
Prepare before going on holiday
It’s important not to neglect the garden when going away on holiday as this can result in plants dying.
The expert recommended asking friends, family and neighbours to water plants and flowers.
Potted plants should also be moved into the shade.
Chris continued: “If holidaying for a longer period of time, consider installing an automatic watering system whilst away, for both outside plants, and drip irrigation for greenhouses.”
Watering is fundamental in ensuring the garden thrives throughout August.
This can mean watering once or twice a day, preferably in the morning or evening.
The expert explained: “Top up water features and bird-baths regularly, and water fruit and vegetable plants, daily. When watering, aim directly at the root to avoid dry soil caused from the heat.
Greenhouse humidity and ventilation
Chris said: “To prevent damaging plants by overheating, ventilate the greenhouse by opening vents and doors on August’s warm summer days.
“To further look after delicate plants from overheating, consider using blinds or shade paint in the greenhouse.
“Increase the humidity of the greenhouse during the hot weather by dampening the greenhouse by pouring water across the floor each day.”
Plan for the coming months
Winter gardens can be planned while spending time outside in the summer.
Bulbs such as nerines and colchicums can be planted ready for autumn.
The expert added: “To prevent damaging plants by overheating, ventilate the greenhouse by opening vents and doors on August’s warm summer days.
“To further look after delicate plants from overheating, consider using blinds or shade paint in the greenhouse. Increase the humidity of the greenhouse during the hot weather by dampening the greenhouse by pouring water across the floor each day.”
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