August Winter Gardening Tips from Michael Coulter

August is the month that divides some gardeners; is it Spring, or is it Winter? There are many reasons to say that it is mostly Winter, but we do see the signs of Spring around the garden and in the greenhouse. Early daffodils and many other Spring bulbs are starting to bloom.

We should now be thinking about preparing the garden for the growing season by completing Winter pruning, spraying and clean up of the greenhouse. For those who have heat pads, check them over to ensure that they still work before starting to sow the early seeds. I always start the season off with clean trays, pots and fresh seed raising mix to reduce the risk of seedlings damping off from poor hygiene.

The start of the season is a difficult time to raise seeds and cuttings due to changeable weather and shorter days (even with a heat bed to start them off). For most types of seeds it will be six to eight weeks from sowing before the seedlings are ready to be planted out. This may be longer in the very beginning of August. There are seeds that do not need to have a heat pad to germinate and will grow in an unheated greenhouse. These include brassicas, lettuce, onions, silverbeet to name a few. Before sowing seeds read the back of the packet, this will advise on the conditions the seeds need to germinate.

The ground is still too cold for fertilising lawns or citrus; it's better to wait until you see new growth starting.

Stone fruit will soon be coming into blossom; that all important copper spray at green tip just before the flowers open can be now applied.

On the warmer sunny days open up the vents and doors of the greenhouse to get fresh air through and reduce the humidity.

Slugs will be starting to be active around the garden, especially on some of the perennials that are emerging through the ground. If you haven't already, remove old leaves at the crown of the perennials, do this now to prevent slugs from hiding in the crown.

One of the new seasons seed catalogues has arrived so I must resist temptation and only order what I need, but the new introductions do look so tempting. The CHS are working with the Southern Seed Exchange (SSE) to bring you a range of fabulous seed packs, for big and small gardens alike Take a look here.

Looking forward to Spring
Good gardening, Michael

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