Pete’s garden jobs for the month


In the wake of that heat wave, Pete Harcom has advice on watering and conserving water in the heat, along with your August garden to-do list

Sweet peas are in peak season now – make sure you keep picking them!

The recent run of unusually hot weather (not just the 40º heatwave, but the general pattern of recent years) is a reminder to reassess our garden watering and to look at ways of collecting and conserving it too. Collecting rainwater in water butts is an easy way to make a huge difference – not only is rainwater best for plants, it saves on your water meter bill too!
The best time to water plants is early morning. This allows the foliage to dry quickly, discouraging fungal spores. If you have to water in the evening, aim water at the roots and not on the leaves to reduce any fungal problems which occur when leaves are left wet overnight.
Old washing up water can also be used in the garden once it’s cool.
And an extra tip is to not throw away the water when you boil vegetables for meals – pop outside and pour it over the weeds that are appearing on the patio instead. Scalding hot water is guaranteed to damage even the toughest of weeds!
Ponds and water features will most likely lose water in this hot weather and need topping up – preferably with rainwater. The fish and pond wildlife will benefit from this. Hot weather will also deplete the oxygen levels in a pond, so perhaps consider a small solar-powered bubbling fountain pump, which will help with oxygenation.

  • Jobs for August
  • Complete your summer pruning of fruit trees and trimming of hedges and summer flowering shrubs.
  • Sweet peas are at their best now and they benefit from constant picking of the flowers for vases in the house – this helps prolong the flowering period.
  • Keep removing weeds! They compete for water and soil nutrients.
  • Stay hydrated – hydrangeas in containers need to be kept well watered. Rhododendrons and camellias also need to be kept moist, especially now, as next year’s buds are developing. Dahlias are especially thirsty plants – they need to be watched and watered carefully.
  • Keep feeding all container plants with liquid fertiliser – once a week if possible.
  • Remove the long whip side shoots from wisteria to approx 20cm from the main stem (to five or six leaves). This will control the growth and encourage flowering next year. Wisteria will also need pruning again in January or February next year.
  • Don’t forget to think about next year’s garden! Now’s a good time to order your spring bulbs and perennials for this autumn’s planting.

    Pete owns Sherton Abbas Gardening

    Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre


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