Real Men Sow

Beating Summer Complacency: Don’t Make These Mistakes on the Plot in August

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I don’t know about you, but I get complacent this time of year.

I can’t help it. The flurry of spring has passed, and all of a sudden there are no seed sowing deadlines. Everything seems a lot more chilled out.

For me, this is when I’m at my most vulnerable. I stop fretting. Veg is growing, I’m harvesting frequently, and all is well with the world.

I do stupid stuff, like stop watering as much, and letting the weeds off when I should be plucking them out. I develop this ‘oh, I’ll do that later’ mentality.

Underneath the courgette glut and the healthy looking veg plants lurks trouble. There are still things I need to do to ensure my plot doesn’t go to pot. So, this blog post is more a mental note to myself than anything – all the things I’ve got to be doing, rather than putting off.

All the things below are mistakes I’ve made and continue to make. Hopefully by writing them down, they’ll stick in my brain and I won’t make them again.

Keep Watering
As I mentioned, I get lazy with the watering. This is daft in the extreme, as the ground is at its driest right now, and emerging fruits like tomatoes and squashes need plenty of water. In the past, I’ve been saved by my mum’s squash planting method…

That’s not to say you need to water every day, but when you do, make sure you give the plants a good soaking. This is better than little and often.

Don’t Forget the Winter Veg and Protect Those Brassicas
I often get caught up with all the more glamorous summer veg growing around me, and neglect the winter crops. I then regret my carelessness when I’m crying out for winter harvests and my caulis are rubbish and the sprouts look ropey.

A good example is my brassicas. This time of year the Cabbage White butterflies are in full flight, laying eggs left right and centre on any unprotected brassica plant. I still haven’t netted my brassicas this year, and they’re being munched.

Check daily for caterpillars if you can, and move any that you spot.

I might just about get away with my lack of protection if I net in the next couple of days, as the more gluttonous second batch of Cabbage Whites don’t arrive until August and stay until Autumn.

Keep Sowing for Autumn
Once crops such broad beans and peas have been pulled out, the plot can look bare in places. You can fill these gaps though – on Monday, I posted a list of seeds you can keep sowing for Autumn harvests. As well as these veg, I’ll be trying some beets and Autumn King carrots.

Harvest Every Day!
Keeping on top of harvests ensures you get crops at their best. Courgettes, beans and tomatoes will grow too big very quickly, and they all need regular pickings if the plant is to continue cropping.

Keep Weeding
Not doing my weeding is one thing I’m really naughty with during high summer, but it’s more important than ever. Getting weeds out of the soil before they go to seed is vital, as this helps to stop the spread. Weeds seeding themselves now will mean more work next year.

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6 Comments

  1. Claire Lindow (Benson)August 1, 2013 at 12:04 pmReply

    Hey Jono

    Love the stormy picture

    I keep kicking myself about the feeding regime ( I sometimes let it slip) and I really must make another forage trip to the canal to grap some comfrey to make some good potash feed. Before long the Comfrey/Worm Tea mix is going to run out and the recent rains have been dilluting my stock in the bucket at the top of the garden.

    I’ve also got chillies in the house (on the steamy windowsill in the bathroom). The hot steam works a treat and we’ve been getting chillies since May but I need to be really careful they don’t miss a feed.

    So yes – mine would be feeding the plants – oh and not forgetting to sow in those new vacant spaces.

  2. AdamAugust 1, 2013 at 12:26 pmReply

    Weeds, weeds and weeds. keep on top! One week of not visiting, a nice downpour and the couch grass/ bindweed/ annuals etc etc carpet everything!

  3. elaineAugust 1, 2013 at 12:36 pmReply

    I have a feeding regime and make sure I do it every Sunday – time consuming job as it is all done with a watering can. The weeds seem to get away from me at this time of year – too much else to do – but what with the sun and the rain they have gone bananas and I have just pulled three trugfuls.

  4. CaroAugust 1, 2013 at 12:50 pmReply

    Great post to remind us ALL not to be complacent, Jono! I really have to get into the garden and resow for winter but am rather enjoying the raspberry harvest at the mo! Watering and weeding are chores most of us neglect, I think. I have to ask a neighbour to drop a hose from her 4th floor window so that my plants have a drink so that poses a further problem! I will try and take your very good advice!!

  5. LizAugust 4, 2013 at 1:30 pmReply

    Love your picture! Looks very heavenly there.

  6. SarahAugust 11, 2013 at 8:17 amReply

    Thanks for the hints and tips. I read it the other day and planted yesterday :)

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meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope.

However, three years on, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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