National Allotments Week 2020 takes place 10-16 August. National Allotments Week started in 2002 as a way of raising awareness of allotments and the role they play in helping people to live healthier lifestyles, grow their own food, develop friendships and bolster communities. The campaign week is still thriving 18 years later and interest in growing your own fruit and vegetables has never been stronger since the WW2 Grow for Victory campaign. (NAW website 2020)
30 August marks the Catholic celebration of Saint Fiacre, a seventh century patron saint of gardening (600-670 AD). (Some Catholic communities celebrate earlier in August (11 August) and his feast day is also said to be on 1 September.). He started life in Ireland and finished famously in France.
- ‘Stop’ cordon tomato plants when they’ve set the 4th or 5th truss of fruit. Remove the tip of the main stem.
- Protect carrot crops with insect mesh.
- If your maincrop potato foliage shows signs of blight (or stem lesions are visible), cut growth off at ground level and destroy diseased material. (Do NOT compost!) Leave potato tubers in the ground for another 2 weeks, then lift & store. Remove any rotting potatoes every month.
- Complete summer pruning of apple & pear trees. Remove completely upright vigorous growth.
- Summer prune trained fruit trees such as espalier cherry, fans, cordon etc.
- Plant strawberry beds with well-rooted runners from healthy established plants.
- Prune fruited canes of summer-fruiting raspberries. Tie in new canes on raspberries.
- Harvest runner beans, parsnip thinnings & courgettes & cucumbers as they mature.
- Harvest spring-planted garlic, onions & shallots once stems start to yellow. Let bulbs dry in the sun – or in a shed or greenhouse – before storing.
- Start lifting maincrop potatoes.
Succession sow a ‘catch crop’ for autumn use (October/November)- such as
- endive / chicory
- khol rabi
- land cress
- oriental greens such as mizuna and pak choi. They are less prone to bolting at this time of the year and may be eaten as tender greens if the frost comes early.
- salad onions
- sow a crop of parsley to take you through to spring.
- finish sowing spring cabbages and spring onions for overwintering.
Sow late summer & autumn for early spring harvests, including:
- broad beans
- oriental salad leaves – pak choi
- hardy lettuce (may need cloche protection in cold spells)
- flat leafed parsley
- spring cabbage
Transplant young summer-sown cabbage, broccoli and kale into the ground from the cold-frame.
Flower / Ornamental Garden
- Keep spring flowering shrubs such as camelia well-watered through any dry spells in August to ensure good flowering in the coming spring.
- Cut & shake ripe seedheads of annuals over open patches for flowers next year – such as California poppy and calendula.
- Collect seeds from perennials and hardy annuals as they ripen. Store in paper envelopes in a cool dry place until next spring.
- Trim lavender after flowering, leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm) of this year’s growth.
- Lightly trim hebe and other low growing shrubs.
- Look out for rose sawfly larvae & lily beetle.
- Divide bearded iris in late August.
- Prune roses. Rambling roses usually only flower once and should be pruned and thinned. Clear fallen leaves with black spot disease from around roses (dispose rather than composting).
- Plant daffodil bulbs and other spring flowering bulbs late August.
- Order bulbs now – eg spring flowering bulbs like tulip, and edibles like onion & garlic sets.
- Always keep an eye on shallow troughs of rainwater for the birds & beasts. Keep it clear of leaves & muck.
- Allow some flowering & vegetable plants to go to seed to provide food for the birds.
- Leave rosehip on climbing roses for wildlife.
- Leave an area for birds to dust-bathe – a dry sunny spot clear of plants with fine, stone free soil. Gravel garden paths are good for this too. House sparrows in particular seem to enjoy a good dust-bath, and do so frequently in the half circle plot in the volunteer woods.
- August is peak bat-watching season – especially at dusk.
- Watch out for dragonflies such as the magnificent large and golden toned brown hawker, which we’ve spotted on patrol over the allotment plots.
- Swallows begin to congregate before migrating back to southern Africa.
2018: The National Allotment Week runs from 13-19 August 2018. Participating sites will open their gates with tours and plant sales. This year’s theme is ‘Living and Growing.’ See http://www.nsalg.org.uk for more information.