August in the Vegie Patch

greenhouse toms1 I love it when seed sowing rolls round again! A bit of housekeeping will set you in good stead – clean your seedtrays, make or buy seed raising mix, cut up labels and buy a new pen (a year in the greenhouse does ink no favours).

Right about now the greenhouse is the star of my show – I’m planting salads and dwarf beans and getting ready for tomatoes and peppers. No greenhouse? Then set up cloches and get them warming your soil. The difference to your spring crops will be extraordinary. Imagine being sent out to work on a cold, rainy day in your birthday suit. (I’m taking for granted you all relate to the word work as garden work – its the only kind of work I know) Now imagine being sent out to work in your beanie, polyprops and waterproofs. There, that’s the difference.

If your soils are free draining and loamy then you’ll be able to work your garden. If not; and heavy, wet, gluggy soils are your lot then please leave them be until they’ve dried out. Instead grow your next lot of crops in tyres or pots, or make an instant raised bed by piling up rotten straw/ hay and create little pockets of compost to plant into. Keep building and improving your soil by growing greencrops, rotating crops, adding organic matter and love and devotion until you too can plant and work at this time of year.

Here’s what I can sow this month in my vegie patch:

Direct sow outside: peas, snow peas, broadbeans, mustard or lupin greencrops, miners lettuce, corn salad, spinach, radish, parsnip.

Direct sow under cover: coriander, parsley, lettuces, rocket, florence fennel.

Tray sow: broccoli, cabbage, lettuces, onions.

Plant outside: broccoli, cabbage, kale, onions, shallots, spring onions, perpetual beet, silverbeet, asparagus, rhubarb.

Plant under cover: sprouted potatoes, lettuces.

Direct sow heaps of companion flowers like calendula, borage, stocks, larkspur, love in the mist, poppies, heartsease; and divide up herbs and perennials to build up your beds.

I’ve read two gardening newsletters today and both recommend sowing carrots and beetroot in August. Not I, not here in Horowhenua. I’m waiting till next month, and even then the beetroot will be sown under cover.

If you have a greenhouse (or live somewhere frost free, with raging soil temperatures) you can begin sowing summer stuff like tomatoes, aubergines and peppers, dwarf beans, zucchini and cucumbers too. You’ll need a heat pad (or the equivalent) to raise aubergine and peppers who need the soil to be at least 20 degrees to germinate.