August Jobs In The Garden
It’s hard to believe that summer is nearly over, although recently with all the rain we have had you would be forgiven for thinking it has been and gone! But we are still enjoying lots and lots of summer blooms such as Salvia, Agapanthus and Verbena to name a few from a very large list. Salvia are absolutely fantastic plants for the bees with many different varieties big and small with Salvia Amistad and Royal Bumble being two of our personal favourites.
Verbena bonariensis is superb for attracting butterflies rivalling even buddleja and when not cut down over the winter serves as a great food source for small birds when they land on the stems to feed on the seeds. It also spreads easily throughout the garden although like any good self seeder you need to root out any unwanted surplus plants.
It is this careful attention to what the garden is getting up to in the undergrowth that can help us connect with nature. Rather than looking on the spreading self seeded plantlings and weeds as annoying, back breaking garden bandits who need to be rooted out, instead admire their ability to grow in the toughest of conditions with minimum resources. Take notice of how well rooted they have become in such a short time period, as if they know that they need to grow a strong root system fast in order to survive. Weeding is a fantastic opportunity to practice observation and thus mindfulness and as there are always weeds growing there is always plenty of opportunity to reap the benefits of mindful gardening all year long!
No Dig Gardening
Once we have decided to rid our lovely garden of the ‘unwanted ones’ how we do this is actually quite important. The more we churn the soil up the greater chance there is of old seedballs that were in the ground already getting the light they need to germinate and then potentially create a bigger weed problem than we had in the first place! We made this mistake several years ago and from this mistake we discovered the secret of no dig gardening. So the key here is not to disturb the soil which we can do by using a good sharp oscillating hoe run over the top of the soil, severing the weeds from their roots.
The whole point about no dig gardening is that it minimises the amount of disturbance to the soil, locking in all of the carbon, the nutrients and all of the beneficial bacteria and microorganisms that feed the soil and consequently the plants and vegetables we want to grow. This goes against everything we have known and been taught for years as gardeners and allotment keepers where dig the ground over and cultivate it with well rotted compost material has always been the advice. Of course sometimes you may need to improve poor quality soil by blending in some compost but for the majority of time a policy of non disturbance of the force is the best approach Luke!
Key to the success of this glorious method is not only a good sharp hoe but also mulching. In a perfect world the mulch should come from your garden but sometimes this is not possible for whatever reason. When this happens and of course if you live in the UK we would recommend sourcing a good organic compost from www.thecompostcentre.co.uk.
A good thick layer of 2 to 3 inches of mulch denies the weeds the light they require to grow whilst also feeding the soil with nutrients and locking in vital moisture in times of drought. The no dig method is particularly successful with vegetable beds and if you would like to more about how you can you can actually learn from the master no dig gardener himself Charles Dowding www.charlesdowding.co.uk Charles has successfully proven no dig works and is a true inspiration to the organic movement.
Flowers That Need Attention
If you have Leucanthemum growing in your garden now is the time to support it with metal hoops as otherwise they will slowly collapse throughout the rest of the month. These giant daisies are favourites of bees and will throw up a few bonus blooms in October to provide some Autumn cheer. As the flower petals eventually fade the dark seed core create great autumn and winter interest and of course act as a valuable food source for little birds.
Now is also the time also to support dahlias and deadhead them to encourage new flowers before the dreaded cold returns. Keep deadheading flowers and roses and you will be pleasantly surprised how many late autumn blooms you will be blessed with in the garden.