It’s a cliche, but August really is the month of plenty. Almost everything you’ve sown, planted, and nurtured through the spring and early summer will be coming to fruition now. Daily harvests should include everything from peas beans, carrots, beets, corn, peppers, potatoes, onions, and salads to berries, currants, plums, peaches, figs, and perhaps even early apples and pears. And tomatoes!! Determinate varieties, also known as bush tomatoes, bear all their fruit within the space of two weeks, so August is the month to put up your tomato store for the entire winter — whether you can or freeze them, or make spaghetti sauce instead.
Top tasks for August
- Harvest your last broad beans and your first corn, plus summer fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, chilies, and eggplants.
- Check French beans, runner beans, and zucchinis every day, and harvest them regularly. They seem to double in size overnight.
- Pick plums, greengages, and blackberries, and perhaps your first apples, pears, and figs.
- Sow your last batch of carrots and turnips for this year, plus Japanese onion seeds and spring cabbages for next year.
- Feed your pumpkins if you want to produce Halloween giants.
- Dry out garlic, onions, and shallots so that they can be stored for the winter.
- Check potatoes and tomatoes for signs of blight, and spray in warm, humid weather.
Sow or plant in August
There is not much you can still sow or plant now in time for harvesting this year. Perhaps a few lettuces and salad leaves, and some of the faster-growing roots and leaf vegetables. That’s about it. However, space on your plot should become vacant once broad beans, onions, and shallots are all finished, so you can begin to plant out overwintering crops such as brussels sprouts, spring cabbages, and winter cauliflowers.
August pests & diseases
- Carrot flies are laying their eggs again this month. Protect crops with fleece or physical barriers.
- Slugs and snails still need to be controlled, especially in wet summers and immediately after rain when the ground is damp.
- Powdery mildews can be a problem in warm, dry summers, particularly on peas, zucchini, squashes, and cucumbers. Regular watering and a fungicide spray may help.
- Spray potatoes and tomatoes against blight, especially if it’s very humid. If your crop is infected, cut down the foliage and destroy it. Lift potatoes at once — they may still be edible.
- Water tomatoes regularly to prevent splitting and blossom end rot. Take care not to splash the fruits to avoid ghost spot.
- Magnesium deficiency is often the cause of tomato or potato leaves tuning yellow between the veins. Spray with a solution of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate).
- Check corn for smut and remove any affected cobs.
- Inspect peas for caterpillars of the pea moth feeding inside the pods. They will have laid their eggs in June or July.
- Check for blackfly on globe artichokes, beets, and broad, French, and runner beans.
- Look under cabbage and other brassica leaves for the caterpillars of cabbage white butterflies. Pick them off and squash them by hand, or spray. Keep nets in place.
- Look for brown rot on apples, pears, plums, and quinces. Remove and destroy infected fruits.
- Apple bitter pit is caused by calcium deficiency. Watering regularly and spraying with calcium nitrate solution may help.
- Pheromone traps in apple, pear, and plum trees may need their capsules to be replaced in order to continue being effective in attracting codling moths.
- Spray plums, cherries, apricots, and peaches with Bordeaux mixture or other copper-based fungicide to treat outbreaks of bacterial canker. Spray after harvesting but before pruning, and spray again next month.
- Check raspberries, blackberries, and hybrid berries for the small, yellow-brown larvae of raspberry beetles.