Garden Care in August
Although there are days when you will doubt it, spring is just around the corner – making this a busy time in the garden.
Water saving at this time of the year is often the farthest thing from our minds but preparation done now will save you hours of anguish in the middle of summer. Any plants placed in the ground during the cooler months, from the largest tree down to the smallest seedling, will benefit from the addition of Stockosorb – water storing granules in the hole. Help protect your indoor and outdoor plants with mulch and use groundcovers where ever you can.
Tidy away all dead and old winter growth in shrubs and trees to make space for the spring flush.
Do not be tempted to cut off the leaves of your bulbs which have finished flowering as they require these leaves to make food for the developing bulb.
As the weather warms cut back fuchsias by a third and mulch their beds with compost. 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 bushier, floriferous plants.
Repot container grown plants into a pot one size bigger if they look cramped.
Do not cut back frosted growth on plants that have been damaged by the cold, until all danger of frost has passed.
Hydrangeas that were not given a summer prune can be pruned now!
Ensure that all roses have been pruned by now! Increase watering to twice a week.
It is time to prepare for your spring vegetable garden. Select an area with plenty of sun and well-draining soil and add plenty of compost to the soil before planting your favourites.
Plant veggies like parsnips, turnips, beetroot, carrot and radish.
Add some colour to your garden with camellias, leucospermums (Pin cushion), chamelaucium (geraldton wax), azaleas, violas and pansies.
Herbs such as chives, fennel, sage and sorrel can be planted and even basil if you are in a warmer part of SA.
Rue can be planted as an insect repellent.
Find a space to plant at least one fruit tree. Citrus does well in a large pot at a sunny doorstep. Many other fruit tree varieties have been especially dwarfed for easy harvesting and also, to fit more easily into a smaller home garden.
Sow tomatoes, eggplants, globe artichokes and peppers outside if all chance of frost is past.
Otherwise, get a start on the season by sowing them indoors or in a greenhouse in trays for planting out next month when the weather is warmer.
Sow seeds for shade lawns.
Seeds can be sown of Cape gooseberries.
Sow beans in situ and a row or two of carrots. Leeks, beetroot, radish, parsnips and turnips can also be sown in the latter part of August.
As the weather warms, so will predatory snails and slugs appear to munch on tender seedlings and bedding plants. Stock up now on snail baits – there are organic baits available too.
Spray indoor plants against mealy bugs and scale.
If there are lots of existing weeds in your lawn do not cut the lawn. Apply a suitable selective broadleaf herbicide allowing at least a week before mowing for the herbicide to act on the plant tissue.
Aphids are seeking out the new growth on the vegetables and depending on which vegetable they are eating you can use one of the following products Garden Ripcord, Malasol, or Aphicide, a very effective systemic insecticide, which will knock them over effectively. It is very important to check the label for the withholding periods when using pesticides on vegetables.
What to Feed:
Dose your indoor plants with liquid fertiliser and clean the leaves with a damp cloth to boost their immunity.
As temperatures rise, feed your fuschias with a high-nitrogen fertiliser to encourage new growth.
Apply a 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.
Any citrus trees that have come to the end of the fruiting season need to be fed with a complete fertiliser to give them new growth and enough energy to set flowers again, feed them with a healthy helping of Wonder 3:1:5 (26) SR. Trim citrus trees after they have finished fruiting and before they have started to flower for next year’s fruiting. If leaves are slightly yellow apply Multifeed Flowergro or Seagro over the foliage.
Start feeding hydrangeas towards the end of August. Should you want to enhance the blue of your hydrangeas, sprinkle 25g of aluminium sulphate around the root zone of the bush and water very well.
Troubleshooting for Citrus:
Yellow leaves: Can be a sign of root rot caused by bad drainage and too much water.
Small fruit dropping off: Trees sometimes produce too much fruit which then drop off. Wind or lack of water at this stage can also be the cause.
Ugly fruit and very thorny branches: This can be a sign that the rootstock on which a citrus variety was grafted has started to sprout and grow. Follow this growth to below the graft and remove completely. (All modern citrus varieties are grafted onto a tougher rootstock).
Older trees which look bleak and dull: Give a dose of epsom salt (dissolve 75g epsom salt in 5L water). Always water the tree before and after fertilising. Never allow fertiliser or compost to lie against the main stem – it can cause stem rot.
Leaves with a wart-like appearance: This is caused by insects which lay their eggs on the underside. It can be treated with an organic contact insecticide.