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 is just so close to spring that you can practically smell it.
What to sow this month from seed: broad beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbages, onions, peas, rocket, lettuce, radishes, silverbeet, spinach
What to plant this month from seedlings: asparagus, onions, broccoli, cabbages, garlic, silverbeet, lettuce, Chinese cabbages, spinach, silverbeet
Prepare Garden Beds for Spring Planting
With the wet winter weather nearly behind us, we can asses the damage it has done to the soil. The pounding of the rain will have compacted it as well as people stepping on it when it’s wet.
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 all those nutrients locked in there.
I like to collect as much as I can from my nearby beaches and forests in August, so I can lay it on thickly in all my empty spaces in the garden. By the time I plant spring seedlings (in October/November), it will be amazing soil.
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. Try preserved lemons, lemon curd (or use limes instead!) and lemon coconut cake (this one is easily switched with lime too.)
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, vacuum dust (as long as you don’t hav synthetic carpet), 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, cover the compost to keep it warm (with a lid if it’s a bin or a burlap sack if it’s a heap) and turn it once a week.
Start Seedlings Inside
You can get well ahead in your spring planting by starting your nightshade seedlings inside. That’s your eggplants, tomatoes, capsicums and chilis. They take linger to establish themselves so an early start can be really helpful. Here’s some more info on starting seedlings inside.
Chit Potatoes and Yams
Potatoes: place them 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. Then they can be planted out in spring and covered with frost cloth until the risk of frost has passed.
Yams can be sprouted this month too, the same way as potatoes but there is no need to rub off any of the shoots. Yams are very frost tender so hold off planting all 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, 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.