It’s August, the weather is still cold in many areas and moderately windy, but the end of winter draws near. Days begin to grow noticeably longer and the change of season isn’t too far away.
This month is the last chance to complete the pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs, and for planting raspberries and brambleberries (such as blackberries and their hybrids).
Now it’s also time to sow the first summer vegetable seeds. Where there’s a danger of frost, sow seeds in trays and place them in a protected area such as a veranda, greenhouse, or indoors near a sunny window.
Towards the end of August, feed fruit trees with organic fertiliser, manure and compost by digging these into the soil when preparing new garden beds. The soil organisms will begin breaking down the organic plant food to slowly release nutrients into the soil after a week or two, ready for the beginning of new spring growth in September. If fruit trees need a feed of potash (potassium), late autumn is also the time to do that too.
Things to Do This Month:
- Continue planting deciduous trees, shrubs, vines and cane fruits (and roses!). Wait till spring to plant citrus.
- Continue pruning deciduous fruit trees (not apricots, best to prune these in late autumn when the leaves start yellowing, during dry, preferably windy weather to prevent diseases entering the pruning cuts). To prune fruit trees, first cut away any dead or diseased wood, then cut away any branches growing inwards towards the centre or crossing other branches (to prevent rubbing and bark damage), and finally, prune tree to shape using the appropriate technique for that species.
- Continue pruning deciduous shrubs (and roses too if you didn’t prune them in July).
- Prune dead seed-heads, stems and branches on herbaceous perennial plants.
- Relocate any deciduous plants (trees, shrubs, vines) or herbaceous perennial plants growing in the wrong place in winter. (Evergreens can only be moved in autumn and early spring, where they have time to regrow roots – remember, they retain leaves in winter which transpire and lose water).
- Apply organic fertiliser to fruit trees, so that the slowly released nutrients will become available when the new growth commences in spring.
- Spray peaches and nectarines to protect against leaf curl fungus. Use lime sulphur or a copper fungicide at the bud swell stage (just before the buds begin to open) but before pink bud stage or when flower colour shows. It is too late to spray once flowering occurs.
- Feed pot grown shrubs and plants and refresh their potting mix by scraping off the top 2.5cm and replace it with fresh potting mix which has been mixed with slow-release fertiliser. Top dressing with compost is also beneficial.
Vegetables and Herbs to Grow in August (Arid Climate)
|August Seeds to Sow and Seedlings to Plant (Arid Climate Australia)||Sow/Plant||Harvest (weeks)|
|Beans (Dwarf, Bush)||d||7-10|
|French Tarragon||t||30-40 days|
|Jerusalem Artichokes||plant tubers||15-20|
|Potato||plant seed potatoes||15-20|
|Rhubarb||plant crowns||12 months|
|Silverbeet (Swiss Chard)||dst||7-12|
|Spring Onions (Bunching Onions)||s||6-10|
d = sow seeds directly into ground
s = sow seeds into seed tray
ds = sow seeds directly into ground or seed tray
t = transplant seedlings (small plants) into larger pots or plant into ground
*= frost tender
**= sow after frost
Download printable PDF version of Gardening Calendar (Australian Arid Climate) – August
To help improve these garden calendars, feedback and additional information from readers is greatly appreciated! Australia’s climate varies considerably, and local knowledge of when particular things need to be done in the garden are most helpful to others living in those area, so please feel free to share.