Buds on deciduous trees are swelling, there’s an abundance of citrus and spring bulbs are standing tall ready to show their faces (or in many cases, they already have!) August feels so close to spring that you can practically smell it.
However, icy nights and frozen mornings are a reminder that winter is definitely still here.
What to sow this month from seed: Asian greens, broad beans, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, peas, rocket, lettuce, radishes, silverbeet, spinach
What to plant this month from seedlings: Asian greens, asparagus, onions, broccoli, cabbages, garlic, silverbeet, lettuce, spinach, silverbeet
Prepare Garden Beds for Spring Planting
Take time this month to prepare your vegetable beds and return them to their former glory by adding organic matter to the soil in the form of things such as compost, aged and well-rotted manure, chopped seaweed, leaf mould and lots of mulch to keep the soil life happy.
Enjoy Your Citrus
Homegrown citrus is at its best right now. If you’re overloaded with fruit, there are an overload of recipes out there to make sure it’s all put to good use.
Plant Salad Greens in Containers
Things can still take a little longer to grow as the sun doesn’t stay up as long as it will in spring and summer. Growing salad greens such as a mesclun mix in containers mean you can place them in the sunniest spots and move them around if need be.
They grow quickly and offer a ‘cut and come again’ harvest so you can be eating fresh salad greens as you please.
Start a Compost Bin
If you haven’t got one already, setting up a compost bin will help you get rid of all the fallen leaves and plant debris as well as kitchen scraps, pet hair, and newspaper.
You don’t actually need a physical bin if you have room to make a compost heap do so, as the bins do fill up quickly.
A compost heap needs a mix of ‘brown layers’ and ‘green layers’. The brown provide the carbon and are things like twigs, dead leaves, straw, hay, cardboard, and newspaper. The green provide the nitrogen and are your fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds, eggshells etc.
You want to layer your compost like a lasagna. For each layer of brown, add a layer of green. Try to make sure no pieces are too big in your compost as they’ll take longer to break down. Then you wait as the worms do their thing and break it down for you.
To speed things up, turn the compost ever couple of weeks. I use a compost-turner like this.
Start Seedlings Inside
You can get ahead in your spring planting by starting some of your nightshade seedlings inside this month. Those are eggplants, tomatoes, capsicums and chilis.
They take a while to establish themselves so an early start can be really helpful. I usually stagger my sowing, so I’ll start a few early August, and continue on sowing a little every few weeks into spring.
Any nightshade seeds sown shouldn’t be planted out until late spring, so ensure you’ve got enough space and sunlight to keep them happy and healthy inside.
Here’s some more info on starting seedlings inside.
Chitting, or sprouting potatoes in late winter can speed up the time it takes to harvest them once they’re planted in spring.
Place your seed potatoes in a single layer in a cool light place, out of direct sunlight. Once the sprouts have long and strong shoots, keep the strongest 3-4 shoots and rub off the rest.
They can be planted out in spring and covered with frost cloth until the risk of frost has passed.
Plant Fruit Trees
It’s still a good time to plant deciduous fruit trees right now but do so before they start to blossom. Garden centers should have them on special now which is an added bonus.
Treat Leaf curl
If your trees were affected by leaf curl, treat them now with a copper spray, and do it before the buds on the trees burst. If you don’t, it’s most likely that your trees will get affected again by the fungal spores left over winter.