Tales From the Plot

August is a time of plenty and it’s been a good year so far. We have spent the last six months setting seeds and planting out now we are harvesting and reaping the rewards of our labours. The peas and broad beans are all harvested and in the deep freeze. It’s been a good year for strawberries, half of our crop was consumed with cream or ice cream or added to morning cereal, the rest made into jam to be enjoyed throughout the rest of the year, a similar practice is being carried out with the raspberries. 
Potatoes, cauliflower, cabbages, French and runner beans, carrots etc all being harvested as needed – however you can still sow lots of crops in August, for harvests into autumn and beyond.  
If you want fresh new potatoes on the dinner table on Christmas Day now is the last chance to set them, I have learnt this from previous experience. If later than August they will not have time to mature before the cold weather comes back. 
Prepare to lift onions towards the end of the month, wait until the tops begin to fall over as this indicates that the bulb has stopped swelling, dry them before ‘stringing’ and putting into store and these bulbs will then keep until next March.
The apples and pears will soon begin to colour up along with plums and damsons being in full flow so harvest regularly, hopefully the late fruiting raspberries will be cropping well by now.
Make the last of any outdoor sowings to provide a late harvest for this season, radishes and lettuce will still produce a crop.
The end of this month signals the time to begin summer pruning of your apple and pear trees (those grown as cordons, espaliers or fans, for trees and bushes, leave these until the winter to prune). The purpose of summer pruning is to encourage the development of fruit buds for next summer.
August is definitely the last month to prune stone fruit trees (plum, apricot, cherry and peach), and of course as always keep hoeing those weeds. I find it quite remarkable that it doesn’t matter how much care you give to your vegetable plants the weeds grow faster and more often than not look healthier! 
All are welcome to come to our Allotment Open Day on Saturday 13th August, 10.00am to 3.00pm, Upper Church Street.
Richard Thorpe 15b Syston Allotments