August, month of plenty on the plot

Allan Jenkins
·2-min read

So, August. Most usually the month of summer holidays, when harvests and watering rotas are shared around with payment in courgettes. Or more likely, marrows if you miss them. I fear, though, long breaks away will be less likely this year.

I may have said almost this last month, but we are deep in the time of now or never. It is near too late to plant out cauliflower, kale or any broccoli still in pots. It is still just OK to sow carrots, spring onions, spring cabbages, red-leaved chicories, summer and winter radishes, and to add autumn crops such as corn, salad and land cress. Stick with the ‘oriental’ leaves, adding winter purslane, plus mustard greens if your garden is in a good spot.

I am mostly new to sowing turnips, but ours were good last year – I prefer to lift them small. You can also sow winter spinach (best when it is not too hot) and a second patch for winter chervil.

Keep an eye on any corn and pick when the ‘silks’ turn colour. We used to cook ours on site with Howard and the kids: first boiled then a quick turn or two on the barbecue to be eaten with homegrown-chilli butter. We have since fallen for the ‘painted-mountain-style’ coloured corn. You are never sure how they’ll turn out, like unwrapping a birthday present as a child.

Start to collect seed for next year. We will be saving the tear peas and coriander and keeping an eye out for beans, though we are slightly late with them this year.

Otherwise, your most pressing veg garden job this month is probably to try to manage the harvest. Most everything should be coming on stream, including chillies, tomatoes and second-early potatoes. Pick and thin through any beetroot. Try to keep on top of bolting lettuces and summer squash. Courgettes will double in size every few days. It isn’t named the month of plenty for nothing.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com