From Michael Coulter

August is the last month of Winter or the start of Spring? This is my annual quandary because it is a bit of both; cold and wet at the start then becoming milder as the first signs of growth and flowers appear. This is the time when we should complete Winter pruning and spray programmes on fruit trees and plant new fruit trees, and berry fruits.

For those who have a greenhouse seed sowing can begin, especially if you have some way of giving bottom heat for early tomatoes and other tender plants.

Ground may be prepared by digging in green crops or compost as the soil becomes dry enough to work so that it is ready for planting seedlings or sowing seeds in a few weeks time.

The weeds have been growing over the Winter and crops like garlic and broadbeans really need to be kept weed free to ensure that they will give a good crop.

Towards the end of the month hardier crops may be sown, if the ground allows, such as onions, peas, carrots, silverbeet, spinach and brassicas.

Early potatoes in warmer parts of the garden can be planted, but as they grow be ready to give them some frost protection or try growing some in a potato pot (available at Oderings).

Fruit trees will benefit from an application of fertiliser now, something we often forget about.

The lawns will begin to grow towards the end of the month and will need some attention after Winter dormancy. Treat for moss and then give the grass a good rake to lift any thick thatch, cut and then aerate the lawn to improve drainage. This should be done over 2 to 3 weeks to allow the moss treatment to work, then the application of fertiliser may be applied once the grass has started to grow next month.

As Winter flowering shrubs finish flowering they should be pruned to encourage next seasons flowers and keep them in a natural shape. This is also the time when potted plants are able to be re-potted just before they start to grow so that they will get the benefit from the fresh potting mix as they make new growth.

In the greenhouse have a good clean out and dispose of any plants that are diseased or have infestations of pests, then spray for pests and diseases on the remaining plants so that there is no carry-over to this growing season onto new plants. Starting the season off with good hygiene around the garden will help prevent problems during the coming season.

For any gardening queries or advice throughout the month refer to our online facebook group which will be monitored over that time.

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