Monthly Growing Guide By Alan J Hartley For
Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


August is not really a month to be planting things out, but more a time to enjoy the fruits of your labours. Apples are one fruit in particular that will be developing nicely with some of the earlier varieties nearly ready to start harvesting now. Your trees will need checking every day to see if the Apples are ready to pick. To do this gently cup the Apple in your hand and give it a little twist. If it doesn’t come away easily it is not ready to pick. You will always get some Windfalls though, no matter how fastidious you are in checking them to see if they are ready. Don’t try to save these, but use them straight away. They will almost certainly have got bruised when they came off the tree and this will start the rotting process. Even those that you pick will need careful examination, because here again any less than perfect with grub holes, or any other damage, won’t keep either. Only try to store the absolutely perfect ones. If you have too many damaged Apples to eat straight away you can always freeze them if they are “Cookers,” or you can juice them. Many people have their own little Kitchen Juicers these days, but quite often you will find that someone locally offers a “Juicing Service,” where you can take them your surplus Apples and they will “Press,” them for you to produce Apple juice by the traditional method using an Apple Press. 
Towards the end of August you may find your first Figs of the season ready. Again like all things, some varieties will develop before others and unlike a lot of fruit the crop will not ripen all at once, although it will come over a fairly short period of a few weeks. You will need to carefully check your trees almost daily, certainly every two, or three days for ripe fruit. To judge if a Fig is ripe you need to look at how the fruit is hanging on the branch. It may have a different colour to unripe fruit, but all ripe Figs have a definite “Droop,” in the way that they hang on the branches instead of standing more erect like unripe fruit do. If fruit is left too long it will quickly become over ripe and split. This should be avoided not only to have more pleasing fruit, but also to prevent the wildlife from being attracted to it. On the other hand it may even be worth deliberately leaving one, or two over ripe fruit to distract birds away from the rest of your fruit.
Sweet Corn is another of the slightly more exotic crops that should be ready by now. If the Cobs look full and the Tassels have gone brown you can gently peel back the sheath a little and insert your fingernail into the kernels. If the juices that run out are milky, then the Corn is good and ready to harvest. 

Other Jobs.
Alstroemerias are a late flowering herbaceous plant that can be divided now as they come into full growth. They are very deep rooted so be prepared to dig down to get at their root system otherwise you will just break off the tops. They will need watering in well after replanting, but should rapidly put on fresh growth to replace any damage and continue into flower.

August can be a hot and dry month, so it is a good time to paint any sheds, or benches, to preserve them and protect them from the coming wet of the Autumn and Winter. It is best if you sand them down first, or at least brush them down with a Wire brush, to remove any loose Mosses, or Algae that may be growing on them. An undercoat first will do the job properly, but the more coats of anything that you put on the better. In the olden days people used to preserve their sheds by painting them with a mixture of old engine oil and Creosote, but that is a dirty job and although very effective and cheap, it is not very environmentally friendly and not really to be recommended.


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