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GardeningAugust plantings

August plantings

Sowing in August will maximise yields from your garden. Early August is a good time to plant turnips, wild rocket, chard and perpetual spinach, Little Gem lettuce, spring cabbage and oriental leaves. Day lengths are declining now, so timing is important. Your altitude and micro-climate have a bearing, and you are also gambling how warm the autumn will be. Generally the beginning of the month is best to sow.

Little Gem lettuce, ready to eat from October onwards is a favourite catch crop of mine. This 19th century variety has such sweet and crisp leaves, rather sweeter in late Autumn than the last cut and come again leaves, which have a tired flavour by then. As always, planting in modules means you can sow now, and later transplant in the gaps of harvested crops as they appear.

Oriental leaves, such as pak choi, mizuna, tatsoi (my favourite) and mustards are best grown over winter in the greenhouse. If we have a mild winter, they may give you a decent crop, especially under fleece. Don’t pick too many leaves before the winter sets in, so they get strong enough to overwinter outside. Pak choi is a particular favourite of slugs, so keep hoeing around them. You may also need to keep them under fleece while the cabbage butterfly is flying. Mustards seem remarkably hardy, good if you like strong flavours. The smaller the leaf you pick, the less pungent. Try Green in Snow or Red Frills.

True spinach can be worth a try. Like oriental leaves, it lies mainly dormant through December and January, but will produce more leaves in the spring before flowering.

Swiss chard and perpetual spinach are best sown in early July, but you’ll get a reasonable leaf harvest if you plant now and water well.

Rocket can be planted any time in August. I prefer Wild Rocket, which is more resistant to flea beetle, and less prone to flower before the winter. It will provide pungent green leaves all through the winter if the plant is healthy.

Turnips will provide a sweet addition to winter foods. Sow in modules now and you should get a good sized bulb by late October. Spring cabbage are hopefuls for planting now. For me it is all a question of keeping the pigeons off, but in fertile soil you should get a good harvest by May. We always seem to lose the pigeon battle, so prefer to rely on spinach and asparagus to feed us in May.

Why do melons have fancy weddings? Because they cantaloupe.

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