August sees the weather soar, with a tendency to be the hottest month of the year – this year the heat has come early and although many gardens are struggling to look their best if you’ve managed to keep up the watering, crops should be growing faster than ever before.
It’s hot, it’s holiday time, but there are still plenty of tasks to keep on top of this month:
Deadhead your roses on a regular basis, leaving varieties with attractive hips for an Autumn display – Snip Its are ideal for this. Spray at monthly intervals if rust, blackspot or powdery mildew is a problem. Keep roses well watered, treating them to a feed every few weeks to encourage a second flush of flowers.
Remove flowered stems of rambling roses once over, tying in new shoots to flower next year –a bower or a gazebo would make for an impressive feature.
Prune back the long whippy shoots of wisteria if your plant has filled its allotted space. Take them to within approximately 8in (20cm) of the main branch, tying in any shoots needed to extend the framework. Make sure to do a further round of pruning in January, too.
Pinch off the growing tips of squash and courgette to encourage branching, and water regularly.
Use fleece and netting to combat the threat of root fly, flea beetle, cabbage whites and birds.
Lift and divide rhubarb plants. Discard the centre of an old clump and replant divided outer growth.
Thin fruit on orchard trees to produce larger healthier fruits and support heavy boughs – a telescopic Fruit Branch Support might save the tree damage from a bumper crop.
Make sure you maintain crop cages and netting to protect soft fruit from birds and prune out raspberry canes to the base once fruited. Tie the new canes onto wires or a Raspberry Support and mulch along the row to retain moisture.
Trees grown as fans, cordons or espaliers should be given a summer prune around now. Shorten side shoots to five or six leaves from the base to encourage fruiting spurs to form.
Avoid cutting grass too short and placing lawns under stress. Leave the box off the mower every other cut - clippings rot down quickly in this warm weather, returning much needed nitrogen to the lawn.
With the heatwave predicted to continue, most of your time will be taken up with the watering and pruning. Most importantly, keep out of the sun in the middle of the day and make sure to sit back and relax when you can.