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Pippa Greenwood gardening advice for August

Written by Sarah Talbot

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Posted on 9 August 2021

Here is my gardening advice for August.  At the moment my number one vegetable garden task is looking out for blight attacking my potatoes and tomatoes.

Blight

Tomato with BlightBlight is really hitting hard now as it has thrived in recent warm and wet weather. It is caused by the fungus-like organism Phytophthora infestans and has the potential to wreck both of these crops.

Look out for the greyish black blotching on stems, foliage and petioles and a gingery brown discoloration on tomato fruits. There is nothing you can do to save infected tomatoes, but remove infected plants promptly and you may prevent others from being infected.

With potatoes take the shears to the haulms and cut them off at ground level, then harvest the tubers as soon as possible and certainly before it rains and you may, possibly, have some tubers which can be stored.

Regular, Consistent Watering

Everything in my veg plot is noticeably slower/behind compared with a typical year, I’ve yet to have any fully ripe outdoor tomatoes. But whether you’re growing your tomatoes inside or out, make sure that they are kept adequately watered at all times. This is extra important for any growing in any sort of container as container-life makes the plants more prone to erratic water levels around the roots.

Blossom End Rot

An even supply of moisture is essential or else the developing fruits may quickly get ‘blossom end rot’, a disorder which causes black, leathery and slightly flattened areas to develop at the base or blossom end of the fruits.

If you wonder why your tomatoes get Blossom End Rot then it is all down to the plant’s inability to obtain an adequate and regular supply of calcium from the compost.  This is not because the compost is faulty, but because the plant roots need to take it up in solution.  And they can’t do that if there’s not enough moisture. If you’ve spotted blossom end rot already, just remove the damaged trusses and improve your watering technique. the good new is that even if fruits are affected they need not be wasted, just cut off the red undamaged bits and make them into sauce! 

Croping and Bolting!

Spells of warmer, dryer weather can soon influence how well veg plants crop. Some, such as lettuce and onions are very prone to bolting.

"Bolting is the term applied to vegetable crops when they prematurely run to seed, usually making them unusable. Basically the plant reacts to the lack of water as a threat and forms a flower stem and seeds to ensure its survival"

Bolted Leeks

If your onions bolt then there is good news and there is bad news.  The good news is that the flowers on an onion are very pretty (think chunky stemmed ornamental alliums!) and the bees and other pollinators love them. These ones pictured are leeks but onions would be pretty similar.

The bad news is that you will lose a large part of the edible bulb and the bulbs won’t store.

Lettuce that gets tall and drawn and bolts usually tastes very bitter and if this is the case, compost it.  If it has already gone to seed you can also store these for a later sowing. There is still time to make some new sowings on another piece of ground. But try to keep the ground adequately moist, mulching after watering if possible.
So, that's the gardening advice for August in the bag - back to the garden!

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