Late Summer in the Veg Patch

As we move from midsummer to late summer, things happen quickly in the veg garden, and there is plenty of opportunity to plant extras, as well as planting up for winter growing in just a few weeks time.

End of July to Early/Mid August

Planting: If you wanted to plant out a last batch of French Beans, Fennel, Beetroot, Mangetout, Summer Salads & Lettuces, Leeks or Cabbage/Cauliflower, then this is the time to do it. It’s a great way of filling gaps that come up after harvesting things like early potatoes and lettuces planted in early spring.

Harvesting: Keep harvesting beans and peas regularly as they crop, treat most lettuces and leaves as cut and come again to keep them productive for longer, dig up any remaining ‘early’ potatoes but leave maincrops until August/September, pull up beetroot and carrots that have reached full size, courgettes will be very productive at this time, and if you planted kale, spinach and chard in spring you should have plenty to pick. Keep an eye out on cauliflowers, broccoli and cabbages – Depending on when they were planted, they may suddenly take form in the next few weeks. Tomatoes and chillies/peppers will start to ripen now too, and you may get some cucumbers coming through. Many soft fruits can be picked too, the last of any strawberries, summer fruiting raspberries and of course we are coming into blackberry season. Keep using herbs, and cut back mint, marjoram and oregano once they flower for a second flurry.

General: Keep on top of weeds, pests and problems – blight can creep in as the weather cools and turns damper, and you may see powdery mildew beginning to take hold of courgette and squash plants, as well as peas. With wetter weather, slugs and snail damage is likely to start increasing so pop down some beer traps or other defences. Cabbage Whites are still laying eggs, so caterpillar damage is still likely on brassicas. Pigeons will be less interested in more mature brassicas now, but if you are planting new plugs then be sure to net them.


Late August

Planting: There’s a short pause now on the planting front, with the next window opening up in September for planting crops to grow over winter.

Harvesting: Keep an eye on sweetcorn – once the tassels start to turn black, they’re good to go. Some maincrop potatoes will be ready to dig up – wait until the foliage starts to die back. There should still be plenty of beans and peas coming through, and perhaps some of your cabbages, broccoli and cauliflowers will start to reach maturity. Loads of leaves can be harvested quite liberally, and this is peak tomato picking time, so keep harvesting as they ripen. It’s a good time for summer turnips too, and other faster growing roots like beetroot and carrots. Really, it’s a great time for harvesting, so just get out into your veg garden regularly to have a look and see what you can harvest. Loads of soft fruit too – blackberries, currants, berries etc.

General: All the same contenders as earlier in August: slugs, snails, caterpillars, pigeons, blight, mildew etc



Planting: This month you can start planting up for winter growing. The planting window lasts until mid October, but the sooner the better as plants can get a headstart before the weather turns cold and the nights draw in. There are winter lettuces to plant and a whole range of winter salad plants, like land cress, winter purslane and corn salad as well as wild rocket and endives. It’s a great time for planting tatsoi and pak choi as well as other oriental leaves like mizuna. You have another chance to get kale, spinach and chard in the ground, as well as cabbage greens. You can also plant sprouting broccoli for a spring harvest, and spring onions too.

Harvesting: Sweetcorn usually comes through this month, so watch out for tassels turning black. Towards the end of the month, start harvesting beans for storing, like borlotti and cannellini. Maincrop potatoes can be dug up, as well as root veggies like swede if they were planted in spring. Cabbages and other brassicas could be quite abundant now, and any fennel, beetroot and carrots planted in early summer may be ready. You may start getting autumn fruiting raspberries too now. It’s a good month for chillies, peppers and tomatoes, and there are usually plenty of cucumbers, courgettes and summer squash coming through too. Keep cutting lettuces and other leaves.

General: As well as pest and disease management, now is a great time for spreading a mulch for autumn/winter growing. It’s also a good time to get composting as you pull up old plants too – so start a compost heap if you don’t already have one on the go. Start thinking about what to do with beds over winter – whether you will plant up again in September/October or cover them once you’ve finished harvesting summer crops.