What can you plant in August?
August is a lovely month with long sunny days, warm summer nights – and with hopefully just the occasional spot of rain to freshen things up. Your garden will be looking its summer best now, with lots of flowers in full bloom and the fruit and vegetables ripening nicely. It is the perfect opportunity to get out into the garden and enjoy the results of all your hard work, but it is also important to plan ahead to make sure that your garden continues to flourish once summer is over. Our August gardening tips will inspire you to keep things colourful and flavourful throughout the autumn and winter – and well into early spring next year. Read on for home gardening ideas to keep your outside space looking its best all year round.
Flowers: winter-flowering pansies for a splash of colour on a grey day
Winter-flowering pansies are an excellent choice to brighten up your garden in the autumn when so many other flowers have faded. When the days are dull and grey, these pansies add a welcome splash of colour with their cheerful shades of yellow, red, white, orange and purple. By sowing winter-flowering pansies in August, you will give the seedlings time to establish themselves while the weather is still warm and they will flower through autumn and into winter. The seedlings will do well in good soil in a spot that gets the winter sun, and it is important to remember to dead-head them regularly to keep them blooming. Our top gardening tips for maximum impact: use lots of different coloured winter-flowering pansies to put on a real winter show. You can also mix things up by combining the pansies with other winter-flowering plants like mini-cyclamen or violas. They look fabulous in borders, hanging baskets or pots and really revive a winter garden.
Vegetables: the underrated winter radish
Winter radishes are often underrated when compared with the more popular spring varieties, but these unsung heroes really do deserve a lot more recognition. They are delicious, versatile – and often surprisingly beautiful. Add them raw to winter salads for a peppery zing, ferment them in homemade kimchi, or serve them as a tasty side vegetable by braising or roasting them. Try growing the Instagram favourite ‘Watermelon radish’ (also sometimes called ‘Beauty in the Heart’) in your garden. This stunning variety has unusual magenta-coloured flesh which fades into white and green at the edges, making it look like a mini watermelon. It is milder in taste than many other varieties of radish and can either be served raw or cooked. Sow winter radishes between now and the end of August and harvest them through to November. They are easy to grow and perfect for young or less experienced gardeners. One of our favourite gardening tips: if you are looking for a way to keep the youngsters occupied during the summer holidays, give them their own their own patch of garden and some radish seeds to plant and look after – they are pretty much guaranteed success!
Herbs: the sweet taste of success
Nothing beats the smell and flavour of fresh herbs in home-cooked food and now is the perfect time to plant some herb seeds that will keep you going through the winter. August is ideal because most herb seedlings thrive in high summer when the weather and ground are warm and many are hardy enough to make it through a typical British winter. Two of our favourite herbs are parsley and chervil, both of which are versatile additions to your winter herb garden. Parsley is a kitchen staple and can be used in so many different ways. Flat-leaf parsley is more flavoursome than curly-leafed parsley, but it is less hardy and tends to suffer if the winter gets very cold. Curly-leafed parsley (which is sometimes called ‘butcher’s parsley’ because it was traditionally used to garnish meat in butchers’ shops) has less flavour, but is much hardier and will withstand harsher British winters. A simple but effective garden tip is to hedge your bets and plant both. Put the flat-leaf variety in the middle of your chosen patch and plant the curly-leaf one around it. The outer layer gives a little extra insulation to the less robust flat-leaf parsley, which may make all the difference if things get very chilly. Chervil is also a lovely – and much less common – choice for a winter garden herb. It has a delicate, liquorice-y flavour and is popular in poultry and seafood dishes, soups and sauces.
Plant both parsley and chervil seeds in August in a warm, sunny spot and harvest later in the year for that unmistakable fresh herb taste in your winter dishes. Check also our list of healthy superfoods and use parsley to add colour and flavour to your dishes.
Organic gardening: good for you, good for the planet
The huge boom in organic gardening shows no sight of stopping and it continues to be one of the hottest gardening trends in the UK at the moment. Concerns about the use of pesticides and other nasties mean that many gardeners are actively looking for ways to reduce their use of manufactured chemicals in favour of more environmentally-friendly methods. One of the most striking recent changes in home gardens is the number of people moving towards wildlife-friendly gardening to create a haven for animals, birds and insects to live, forage and feed. There are two handy gardening tips here. Firstly, include as many different wildlife-friendly plants as you can, especially the traditional meadow ones that have declined so sharply in recent years. Secondly, choose some flowers that will bloom early so insects are not left hungry in springtime. Cowslips are perfect for planting in August. Start them off in trays and keep them in a cold frame until early spring when you can put these beautiful yellow flowers to attract early bees, moths and even butterflies.
Make the most of August gardening
Follow our easy gardening tips and keep your garden looking lovely well into the new year.