Jul 272017
 


Cool clear nights, frosty mornings and plenty of rain can only mean one thing, it is August. Travelling around my home town I have already seen the first spring blossom and the jonquils are splashing the dull browns and greys with colour. Here are some top gardening tips for your place in the month of August.

Warm Areas

Frost free or occasional light frosts (North from about Coffs Harbour and all the way across to the west to Geraldton)

Stick these into your veggie patch: rocket, silverbeet, spring onions, Chinese cabbage, mizuna, lettuce, parsley, zucchini, pumpkin, leeks and parsnip.

Why not try some lovely flowering plants in your patch as well, like: nasturtium, petunias, marigolds (French) and celosia. These are great at attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to your patch. If planning on putting in some tomatoes next month, prepare a bed now (your toms will thank you for it). Do this by popping in some organic compost, pelletised chook poo, a wee bit of water, and applying a straw mulch. This bed will be awesome come September… and you will have the greatest tomatoes in the street!

Consider a green manure crop to add some life and love to an overworked patch. At this time of year, try wheat, lablab or chickpea. Just like the tomato bed above, this will improve your soil incredibly, and, for a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort!

Pruning and weeding is a must job to do at this time of year.

Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.

Cool to Cold Areas

Low temperatures for extended periods of time (all of Tasmania, most of Victoria, the southern highlands of NSW, the ACT and a tiny southern bit of SA)

It’s your very last chance to put bare rooted trees in! Race down to the nursery now, and grab some fruit trees, including apples, pears, plums, peaches, and nectarines. Deciduous exotic trees can be planted in now also.

There’s a bit happening in the veggie patch, so you could try spinach, broad beans, Jerusalem artichokes (put them in a pot or they can take over!!), potatoes, peas, onions, parsley, cabbage, broccoli, rocket, silverbeet, cauliflower, lettuce, leek, Asian greens, radish, beetroot and parsnip.

Pruning and weeding is a top job to do at this time of year. Deciduous fruit trees love a big old haircut now, except your apricot!

If planning on putting in some tomatoes next month, prepare a bed now (your toms will thank you for it). Do this by popping in some organic compost, pelletised chook poo, a wee bit of water, and applying straw mulch-avoid sugarcane in these areas due to the transport associated with its supply.

This bed will be awesome come September….and you will have the greatest tomatoes in the street!

Get spraying! To prevent peach leaf curl (which also effects Nectarines)

Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.

Green manure crops (like faba beans or field peas) are good to go now…..improve that dormant veggie patch!

On really cold days, why not head out to the shed, and sharpen, clean, oil and maintain your garden tools. Sounds tedious, but it’s really rewarding, and will save you cash and plant illness in the long run.

Temperate Zones

Occasional winter frosts (pretty much the rest of Australia, most of the inland, some areas of Victoria, most of SA and the southern area of WA)

It’s time to get planting! There is some great plants you can put in now, once the frosts have gone. Try beetroot, lettuce, parsnip, peas, radish, celery (in a milk carton), leek, lettuce, onions, mizuna, mitsuba, seed potatoes, rocket, silverbeet, and spinach.

Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will enrich your soil as it breaks down.

If planning on putting in some tomatoes next month, prepare a bed now (your toms will thank you for it). Do this by popping in some organic compost, pelletised chook poo, a wee bit of water, and applying a straw mulch. This bed will be awesome come September… and you will have the greatest tomatoes in the street!

Pruning and weeding is a top job to do at this time of year. Deciduous fruit trees love a big old haircut now, except your apricot!

Green manure crops (like clover, barley, wheat or field peas) are good to go now… improve that dormant veggie patch!

On really cold days, why not head out to the shed, and sharpen, clean, oil and maintain your garden tools. Sounds tedious, but it’s really rewarding, and will save you cash and plant illness in the long run.

Of course, this is just a rough guide, and many of you will find your situation varies from the above listing due to microclimates created in your garden, location in relation to your nearest major city, extremes of weather (Mother Nature does like to keep us on our toes) and garden type. But the one thing that remains the same for all zones and regions is this: no matter the season, we can all garden more sustainably all year round

Happy gardening, see you next month!

  14 Responses to “August In Your Patch”

  1. I have an apple tree and have never had one before. The branches are tall and straight. Should I prune and fertilize?

    • Your question needs an extensive answer which is beyond the scope of this column. Basically these long, straight branches form the framework of the tree. In the winter remove all the long growth leaving only those that will form a framework that is open in the middle to provide good air circulation and sunlight and also to making picking easier. Apples flower and form fruit on spurs that grow from this longer growth. We suggest you look after your tree until next winter and then look for ‘pruning demonstrations in your area. Watching someone prune a tree is by far the best way to learn.

  2. When can I plant kale in Victoria?

    • Kale prefers cooler climates and is very frost hardy. It germinates easily from seed and grows quickly. I have grown kale all year round in southern Victoria but it doesn’t really like belting hot sun.

  3. Can we prune the mandarin tree now? Will it still fruit again next year if given a generous prune?

    • Wait until all danger of frosts has passed, if you get them, then prune. Citrus trees tolerate pruning well, but it depends how hard you prune what next season’s crop will be. Some varieties like Imperial seem to bear batter every second year so this may make a difference.

  4. My Hass and Reed avocados are laden with fruit this year. When is the best time to start picking them?

    • G’day Patricia, Avocados can be picked when they are large enough and will ripen inside in a few days so ‘go for it’!

  5. Latest theory re decidouous fruit trees – prune in summer , NOT winter.

    • Where practical, summer pruning is a good idea and will encourage spur growth on apples and pears. However, the timing of pruning depends on what you are aiming to do. If you have a young tree and want to encourage growth and guide the shape of the tree, winter pruning is appropriate – also the absence of leaves makes it easier to see what you are doing. Summer pruning is great for more established trees and will help retard leafy growth so that the tree can put more energy into fruit production.

  6. What sort of spray do I use for my fruit trees (apricot , nectarines)?

    • Fungicide sprays containing copper hydroxide, lime sulphur or Bordeaux mixtures are all suitable as a dormant spray in the winter. Yates have a liquid copper spray which is safe to use. Managing fungal diseases in the winter will avoid a lot of disappointment in the summer. Good plant hygiene which includes; cleaning up affected leaves and fruit as well as strong healthy plants will also help. Keeping the middle of the tree open for good sunlight exposure and air circulation can help.

  7. Out of interest – Why not apricot tree pruning?

    • Apricot trees are best pruned in summer after fruiting. These trees are susceptible to diseases entering open cuts which don’t heal so quickly in winter.

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