August Gardening Tips 2022
What a difference a year makes. Last August, I wrote ‘After a warm and rainy July maybe August will prove a little more settled!’ This year, any precipitation would be a delight and I would love experience the sweet scent of summer rain in the garden.
I am old enough to remember 1976 very well, I was 11 at the time and the concept that water is precious made a big impression, it was certainly a hot topic on Blue Peter. Water may not be quite as scarce at the moment as it was then, but let’s hope that this dry spell ends with a wet autumn for the sake of our gardens. This was certainly the case in 1976 when the minister for drought quickly became the minister for floods, so perhaps we should be careful what we wish for. But, in the meantime, we can still enjoy our gardens and gardening while conserving water and using it wisely.
I always suggest watering in the cooler parts of the day, early morning or evening, to prevent evaporation. There is a school of thought that the early morning is better than the evening because it is when plants start to draw water again, and that wet leaves in the evening are more likely to encourage fungal disease, as well as attracting slugs and snails more.
I would also recommend watering the base of the plants rather than the leaves because there is less wastage as the water gets more easily to the roots. Don’t forget to use a good mulch, as it really does help to retain moisture in the soil, which is key for reducing water usage. You could also re-use washing up water or bath water on ornamentals (but not vegetables), use a watering can if you are able in place of a hose, and bring pots into the shade or put a sun shade over precious plants. When caring for your lawn, keep the blades high when you mow, as longer grass has longer roots which withstand drought better. Your lawn really will green up when the rain arrives.
Set yourself up for future dry spells by planting trees and larger plants, which provide shade and, once established, their deeper roots allow them to access water further down in the soil that is inaccessible to smaller plants – so think big when autumn comes and find space to plant some natural shade givers.
We are fortunate to be able to capture rainwater from our gutters at home. Water butts come in various sizes and, now many of us are on water meters, there is money to be saved too in the long term. Remember to make sure the tap to the water butt is positioned so you can get a watering can underneath. In any event, rainwater is actually better for plants than treated drinking water.
Before the rains come, and they will, continue to deadhead the faded flowers of roses, perennials and annuals to encourage new blooms. Trim lavender bushes once they have finished flowering and take cuttings of tender perennials such as Pelargoniums, Fuchsias and Salvias. Sow lettuce, spring cabbage and winter spinach, and keep tomatoes well-watered. Harvest all those wonderful home-grown vegetables from potatoes to runner beans, not to mention courgettes. How do courgette plants manage to be just so generous?
Have a wonderful August and let’s all enjoy the warmth of the summer, even if we cannot enjoy the rain just yet.