Allotment Associations & Horticultural Groups in Harrow, Middlesex
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In August you can enjoy the fruits of your labours and admire the colour of the flowers.

The onion crop should be ready for harvesting, but ensure that the bulbs are well ripened before storing. And, thinking of next year’s crop, you can, during this month sow the seed of Japanese (over wintering) onions. But it is more common to plant onion sets during the following month, but obviously that it is a more expensive method. These onions are ready about a month before the spring-sown onions, but they do not keep for too long and should start using them before starting to use the main crop. The ground that was occupied by the onions and potatoes could now be used for spring cabbages.

Lawns: Traditionally the next month is the time to sow grass seed, as the temperature is still high enough and there is likely to be rain. So, in August the ground can be prepared: Remove all rubbish and weeds, level and firm well, treading heel to heel. Then, ready for sowing, spread some fertilizer.

Runner beans: Unless you want to save some pods for seed, or you like fully grown beans, picked the pods when they are nice and tender to eat or freeze.

Geraniums: Take cuttings of your favourite plants putting them in pots and place them where they are protected from frost.

Flowers: Towards the end of the month few annual and biennial seeds can be sown. They will come into flower after the spring bulbs are over. Among these are Virginia stocks, nemophilas, eschscholtzia white rockets, sweet alyssum, godetias, violas, and candytufts.

Propagation: Everything is on the increase so why not your plants? Have you tried layering? Starting with rhododendrons and azaleas, choose a healthy looking plant shoot and cut it half way and about one feet from its growing point. Pin the half cut portion firmly into the ground with a pin made out of galvanised wire. Only snag is that you have to wait two or three years for the shoot to have made enough growth for it to be severed from the parent plant. To get more Heathers, cuttings can be taken, short side growths should be available with new growth at their tips. They should be about 2” long, pulled away from the stem and have a small heel of the old wood. Insert them into a tray with two parts sand and one part of finely sifted peat. Cover the tray with glass or keep them in a closed frame until the cuttings have rooted.

Potatoes: Earlies have, of course, been eaten, and the main crop plants should be earthed up so there is no danger of the lovely potatoes being exposed to the sun and turning green and becoming poisonous. Another damp summer? Watch out for blight and spray with Dithane or Bordeaux Mixture.

Holiday care of house plants: Small plants can be watered thoroughly and then placed in a polythene bag. Blow into the bag to extend it and prevent it from touching the foliage, then seal it tightly with rubber band, and place it out of direct sunlight. With a larger plant, place the pot inside another, larger container, which has no drainage holes, filling the space between the pots with peat. Water the peat until it is quite wet, but not sodden, moisture will be released gradually into the pot. This method can be more successful if clay pots used for the plants as moisture is then absorbed through the sides as well as through the drainage holes at the base, there are several proprietary automatic watering systems available. The pots could be placed on a piece of capillary matting, or there is another method: fill a bucket of water and stand it on a low stool or box. Place all the plants round the bucket, obviously in saucers so that the floor is kept dry. Buy long laces, one for each plant, and place one end of the lace into the bucket and the other, with the metal end, into the soil of the plant. Water will creep by capillary action down the lace and into the pot.

Ralph of Roxbourne Society

•   August events.

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