With only a few months' training under her belt, GardenSite's own Flori Bosnigeanu took part in this year's Great Birmingham Run, raising over £500 for the city's Children's Hospital.
After the frenetic growth of spring and early summer you may feel like sitting back and enjoying a more restful August in the garden, but as always there are lots of jobs to be done as Nathan James Dodd explains.
When onion foliage turns brown and withers it's time to lift them and lay out in the sun. When thoroughly dried, either cut the dead foliage off and store in netting or use the leaves to tie the onions together. Hang in a well ventilated frost free environment.
Keep runner and French beans well watered and continue picking when they are young to encourage further pods, don't leave them to grow too large, they'll become tougher and stringier.
Use container grown perennials to fill in any gaps in the border and provide instant colour.
When going on holiday, make sure you make arrangements for watering containers and hanging baskets, either asking a neighbour to fill in or investing in an automatic system.
'Suckers', usually with seven pale green leaves, will literally suck the life out of your roses, so follow them back to the the root stock and pull them out.
Growing new shrubs from cuttings is easy. Take a piece of non-flowering stem from this season, cut just below a leaf, and remove any lower leaves, dip in hormone rooting powder and place in fresh compost. Cover the pot with plastic and leave in a warm spot away from direct sunlight.
Wisteria needs pruning twice a year to prevent it growing out of control, perhaps invading and blocking guttering and to encourage flower buds. So in August cut the year's growth back to five or six buds.
Rambling and climbing roses should also be pruned back when their flowers have faded. With the former, cut out about a third of the older stems or if you have limited space prune out one old stem for each new one. For Climbers, remove any dead or dying stems, support any new shoots. Then for both, prune back any side shoots to one third of their length.
Continue to water your hanging baskets, pots and grow bags, regularly feeding with a liquid fertilizer but remove annuals that have finished flowering and put them to the compost heap.
Main crop potatoes should be harvested. If you use a normal fork be careful not to spear the tubers, leave them to dry, then clean and store in hessian potato sacks in a dark, cool, frost free place. As with apples, only keep perfect tubers. Don't put any foliage that is showing signs of disease onto the compost heap, burn it.
Support autumn fruiting raspberries with stakes and string to keep them tidy. Keep thinning vegetables such as beetroot and tunips to encourage them to be healthier and better sized. Sow fast growing salad vegetables such as rocket for a quick and tasty harvest.
To save money, use a paper bag to collect seed from herbaceous perennials on a warm dry day. When they have completely dried, transfer to an envelope and clearly mark what's inside. If the plant has berries, soak in warm water and carefully remove the flesh. Sow immediately to plant out in the spring or store in a cool place.
Clear any mulch away from strawberries as well as weeds, then cut off this year's growth so that new foliage can emerge before winter.
Night temperatures in the greenhouse might drop fairly low, during the day they can soar. Ensure that ventilation is sufficient and shading is in place. Increase humidity by misting the plants and using capillary matting.
Cut back flowering perennials that are past their best, they don't look good and you'll be opening up space to plant spring bulbs.
After harvesting crops, sow green manure to improve soil structure and fertility. Growing throughout the winter, Alfalfa or Red Clover will be dug in next spring, releasing nutrients into the soil. Faster growing manures such as mustard and buckwheat can be used that are dug in during the autumn.
Lawns might be suffering from lack of rain at this time of the year. Their powers of recovery though are great so don't be too concerned in the short term. When conditions improve, give the grass a boost by applying an autumn feed to strengthen the roots and prepare the lawn for winter.
If you want lovely new potatoes to go with your sprouts at Christmas, buy early varieties such as 'Charlotte' or 'Maris Peer' and use a pot or potato bag. Place three tubers on a 4ins layer of free draining compost / organic matter then cover with about 6 ins of compost. Keep well watered in a frost free environment and keep covering the foliage until the top of the pot or bag is reached.
Nathan James Dodd
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