July has been a month of warm rain somewhat different to June which was dry and hot. It seems no one really knows what challenges us allotmenteers will have to deal with so best to stick to the books to see what we should all be doing this month.
August is the month of plenty and we can see that by the facebook posts by our members. Posting what they have produced over the months creating Jams, pickles and chutneys, and preparing produce for their freezers.
August, I understand, is the last chance to sow carrots, Swiss Chard and Turnips for this year along with spring cabbage. Pumpkins need to be fed if you want them to be large enough for Halloween.
August is also the month to transplant winter and spring cauliflowers. Variety Tirza F1 can be sown up to and including October. If they over winter successfully they should give you a harvest in the new year January onward.
If your’e into chicory continue sowing sugarloaf or radicchio seed as they are hardy enough to last well into the autumn.
It’s still possible to sow Lettuce, though they may not geminate if the weather is too hot. For late autumn and winter salads, continue to sow rocket. Land cress corn salad and winter purslane.
Japanese onions I have read are specially bred, hardy varieties able to withstand most winters. Sow seed now, in drills marked with a string to remind you where you have put them. In spring they will emerge whereby you can thin them out. King seeds 2023-2024 Catalogue page 39 has two varieties, Keepwell and Senshyu Yellow.
Some varieties of Winter Hardy spring onions; Endive; Pak Choi; Radish; Sorrel and Spinach can also be sown this month.
Plant new strawberry plants either from the garden centre or when the runners from your strawberries have started to root. It is recommended that you plant new ones where strawberries have not been grown before in the last three years. Replace old plants for a better crop.
Dry out garlic, onions and shallots so that they can be stored for the winter. Check potatoes and tomatoes for blight and spray them in warm humid weather.
Weed growth should slow down in August if we have dry hot weather so hoeing should keep the weeds at bay. Water regularly to promote normal growth and prevent plants from bolting prematurely.
Spread well-rotted mulch if you have any left or wood chip to suppress the weeds and keep the moisture in the soil.
Pinch out tomatoes once four or five trusses have formed and remove any side shoots. Top out runner beans when they reach the top of the poles or canes this will stop them from becoming top heavy and encourage growth at the bottom of plants.
Continue to earth-up potatoes and celery if they are not self-blanching and support brassicas such as Brussel sprouts
Now is the time to prune gooseberries, currant bushes, fruiting raspberries and wire trained fruit trees.
Pests are abundant this time of year ranging from carrot fly, black fly, and caterpillars along with fruit rot so inspect your fruit and vegetables regularly. If apples suffer from bitter pit - Bitter pit is a common disorder that causes dark spots on apples late in the season or in storage. This condition is related to lack of calcium in fruit and is often as a result of dry soil conditions, water and spray the trees with calcium titrate solution.
Pheromone traps in apple, pear and plum trees can be used to attract codling moth - The caterpillars bore into fruit and stop it from growing, which leads to premature ripening, while cherries, apricot and peach trees can be treated with a copper-based fungicide to treat bacterial canker.
Richard Cox, ARDAA Secretary