By the time we swing into August, us gardeners are harvesting the fruits of our labour with an abundance of cut flowers, trugs of vegetables and tubs of freshly picked fruit. Then we sit back in the garden, feet up with a tipple and enjoy every moment…right? Not so!
Ellen Mary can’t be the only one that gets to August and has a breakdown over weeds (mainly bindweed in her case), the amount of time it takes to prepare and store harvests, and the rate at which the lawn grows? It can be quite overwhelming so here are Ellen’s top tips to get on top of the August madness:
1. LITTLE AND OFTEN. August is a busy month in general, with BBQ’s, holidays and other social events. If you can just get out in the garden for half an hour or so you will be keeping on top of things more than you realise. Pop out in the garden after tea for 10 minutes to pull up the odd weed or make the most of the lighter mornings and feed your tomatoes. Those few minutes every now and again really do add up and can make a big difference.
2. LET IT GO. On the few occasions I get to the allotment at this time of year, I have to just live with the weeds and the awareness that my neighbours plot is is exceptionally tidy because they can spend everyday pruning, wedding and feeding. Planting out, successional sowing, harvesting and taking home colourful flowers is far more important when you have little time. The shed really could do with a coat of paint but its more important to harvest the courgettes before they become too gigantic to fit through the front door.
3. KITCHEN ANTICS. When you’ve satisfyingly showcased your harvests to the family, what happens next? Did anyone mention the time it takes to actually wash, chop, prepare and store those delicious home grown potatoes? Not to mention blanching and freezing piles of runner beans! When you are planning your trip to the allotment don’t forget to consider the additional time to deal with your fresh fruit and vegetables. Make sure you have some potato sacks, freezer bags (and plenty of room) and get the family involved to share the load.
4. CUT SOME CORNERS. Come on, we might not admit it but we all do it right? Good news is, there are many corners to be cut that are actually seriously good for your garden. So, you’ve cut the lawn and you’ve got to empty the lawnmower, compost the cuttings or take them to the tip. How about just chuck them out on a sheet, let them dry out then mulch them around your plants. You could even use them fresh – your call!
5. BREATHE! It’s all fine. If you have the most perfectly tended to garden or if you can spy the bindweed teasing you in the borders, just remember it’s your garden. Love it no matter what. There will be insects and amphibians hiding amongst those weeds along with bees and butterflies enjoying the colourful pollinators in your pots and borders. It’s your space, so enjoy it no matter what.
I’d better take my own advice! Now where’s that deckchair and cup of tea…
Ellen Mary is a TV presenter, gardener, blogger, designer, AND tutor! Check out her new gardening school here!