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Apples

Early-cropping varieties are ready to eat this month. How do you know when they’re ready? The appearance of windfalls is one sign; a deepening, or change in colour is another. But the only true test is to pick one and taste it.

Apricots

Outdoor-grown apricots need warm, sunny weather to ripen properly. When the fruit is ready to pick, it will feel slightly soft and should pull away without resistance.

Aubergines

In the heat of August, aubergines will be fattening up – as long as you’re able to give them the water they need. Harvest them when they are at their blackest and glossiest.

Beetroot

Harvest beets regularly, lifting them carefully so that you don’t disturb the roots of their neighbours. Those that remain in the ground will keep on swelling once they’ve been given more space.

Blackberries and hybrid berries

Blackberries should be ready for picking now. So, too, will more unusual hybrid berries, such as boysenberries, loganberries, tayberries, and veitchberries.

‘Sylvan’ is an early-fruiting hybrid blackberry that ripens this month

‘Sylvan’ is an early-fruiting hybrid blackberry that ripens this month

Blackcurrants

Watch for the moment when the berries swell to full size and turn a shiny blue-black, and pick them within a week.

Blueberries

The berries all tend to ripen at different rates, so you’ll need to inspect blueberry bushes regularly and harvest at least once a week to catch them at their best.

Broad beans

Harvest the last of your broad beans this month. When they’re finished, cut plants down to ground level and leave the nitrogen-rich roots in the soil.

Broccoli

Continue cutting heads of calabrese and spears of sprouting broccoli. Harvest them before the flower buds open.

Cabbages

Both summer and red cabbages should be hearting up by now. As soon as the heads are solid and dense, they are ready for harvesting.

Carrots

August is likely to be a crossover month for harvesting the last of the fast-growing early varieties and the first of the slower-maturing maincrop carrots.

Cauliflowers

The first summer and autumn cauliflowers should be developing heads by now. Modern, coloured varieties make a change – though it’s debatable whether they taste any different.

Celery

Harvest self-blanching or green celery before the leaves go yellow, otherwise the stems will become too stringy.

Cherries

One or two late-season cherry varieties ripen in August (‘Sweetheart’ and ‘Morello’, for example) but most will have been ready to pick last month.

Chicory

For salads, pick sugarloaf chicory while it’s still fairly young. Older, larger plants can become very bitter-tasting.

Chillies and peppers

Most peppers become sweeter as they ripen, and most chillies become hotter - although the rule doesn’t always apply.

These innocent-looking, peach-coloured ‘Habaneros’ are blisteringly hot, at whatever stage you pick them.

These innocent-looking, peach-coloured ‘Habaneros’ are blisteringly hot, at whatever stage you pick them.

Cucumbers

Keep an eye on ripening cucumbers. Don’t let them start to turn yellow. If they do, pick them and compost them immediately or you’ll delay the plant producing new fruits.

Pick cucumbers before they grow too long or the seeds will be unpleasantly large.

Pick cucumbers before they grow too long or the seeds will be unpleasantly large.

Figs

The first figs should ripen this month, if you grow them in a warm, sunny, sheltered spot. Pick the fruits when their colour darkens and they feel slightly soft. A bead of nectar appearing at the base is another give-away sign.

Florence fennel

Fennel is prone to bolting in dry weather, so cut your bulbs before they become elongated and too tough to eat. If you leave the stumps in the ground you should find that they sprout; you can use the new feathery leaves in salads and stir-fries.

French beans

Harvest both dwarf and climbing varieties now. If you’re going to eat the pods whole rather than shell them or keep them for drying, pick them while they are still young and slender.

Sweetcorn

Corn is ready to harvest when the tassels or silks go brown or black, and when the juice from the kernels is milky rather than clear.

Tayberries

A cross between blackberries and raspberries, tayberries are perhaps the best of all the hybrid berries. They’re at their peak in August. Eat them raw in fruit salads or use them for jams, pies, and tarts.

Tomatoes

Cherry or grape tomatoes are bite-sized and bred to be super-sweet.

Turnips

As well as lifting the roots, also try harvesting the young leaves. They’re called “turnip tops” and can be cooked and eaten like spring greens or spinach.

Garlic

Lift the last of your garlic this month. Dry it out and hang it up ready to use as and when you need it during the next few months.

Globe artichokes

Keep picking globes once they swell up but before they open, working your way down the plant from top to bottom.

Kohl rabi

Harvest kohl rabi by slicing off the swollen globes at the root and trimming away all but the smallest, youngest leaves that grow from the centre. Eat them raw or cooked.

Leaf beet

All the leaf beets – perpetual spinach and the various varieties of Swiss chard – can be harvested throughout the summer, provided they don’t bolt and go to seed.

Lettuces

August is a tricky time for lettuces. If it’s hot and dry – which it often is – they’ll almost certainly bolt. Keep them well watered, and harvest regularly.

Here’s a freshly harvested lettuce that was grown under netting – the only sure way to safeguard it from attack by pigeons.

Here’s a freshly harvested lettuce that was grown under netting – the only sure way to safeguard it from attack by pigeons.

Marrows

Vegetable marrows should be starting to swell to their full, competition-winning size during this month.

Melons

As trailing melons begin to ripen, lift them off the ground and slip plastic sheeting under them to protect them from damp soil and slugs.

Onions

Onions are ready for harvesting when their leaves turn yellow and start to bend over. Lift and dry them thoroughly before bringing them in.

Pak choi

Like many other Oriental brassicas, pak choi is extremely fast-growing. You could be picking baby leaves in August from seed sown as recently as last month.

Peaches and nectarines

Both peaches and nectarines will be ripening this month. Pick the fruits when they’re slightly soft and pull away easily. ‘Duke of York’ is a good choice for temperate climates; it thrives in a sheltered, south-facing position.

Pears

It is notoriously difficult to be sure of the right moment to pick pears. If you’re uncertain, pick them when they are under-ripe rather than over-ripe. Both early-cropping apples and pears should be eaten soon after harvesting, as they don’t keep.

Peas

Pick mangetout, snap, and regular, maincrop shelling peas while they’re still young and tender. Keep them netted to fend off birds.

Mangetouts should be harvested every two or three days. Catch the pods before they grow overlarge.

Mangetouts should be harvested every two or three days. Catch the pods before they grow overlarge.

Plums

This month and next are when most varieties of plum and gage are ready for picking. Dessert plums don’t keep for long, so pick them when they’re just ripe.

Potatoes

August is still the time for second earlies – both the wonderful, floury baking potatoes, such as ‘Estima’ or ‘Wilja’, and classic, waxy, salad varieties, like ‘Charlotte’.

Radishes

Provided you sowed several successive batches of radish seed in late spring, you’ll still be harvesting new crops now.

Raspberries

Summer-fruiting raspberries are likely to finish this month, but with luck you may find you can harvest the first autumn-fruiting varieties. If so, your supply of freshly picked fruit will go uninterrupted.

Red- and whitecurrants

Inspect the berries regularly, and try to pick them when they are at their most plump and juicy, but before they become too soft. Cut off the entire truss or “strig” and, when you get home, use a fork to “comb” off the ripe berries into a bowl or dish.

Runner beans

Harvest beans every day or two. If any do become over-large and stringy, pick them anyway, and compost them; don’t leave them on the plants.

Salad leaves

Corn salad, summer purslane, rocket, and land cress are all welcome alternatives to lettuce and should crop throughout the summer.

Shallots

Lift any remaining shallots by the end of the month. If you dry them thoroughly, clean them off, and discard any damaged bulbs, they should keep for several months in a cool, well-ventilated store.

Spinach

In hot, dry summers, spinach bolts very readily. Pick the leaves often and be prepared to water daily.

Summer squashes

Courgettes and other summer squashes come in many different-shaped varieties. August is the height of the season for them: they grow so rapidly that they’ll need harvesting every couple of days.

Every plotholder’s nightmare: the courgette you come home to after a fortnight away on holiday!

Every plotholder’s nightmare: the courgette you come home to after a fortnight away on holiday!

Spring onions

Lift spring onions before the bulbs grow too fat, especially if they’re for eating in salads. The larger they are, the stronger the taste.

Strawberries

Summer-fruiting strawberries probably finished sometime last month, but modern perpetual varieties will go on cropping from now until the autumn.

Vegetables

Aubergines

Beetroot

Broad beans

Broccoli

Cabbages

Carrots

Cauliflowers

Chillies and peppers

Courgettes

Florence fennel

French beans

Garlic

Globe artichokes

Kohl rabi

Leaf beet

Marrows

Onions

Pak choi

Peas

Potatoes

Runner beans

Shallots

Spinach

Summer squash

Sweetcorn

Turnips

 

Salads

Celery

Chicory

Cucumbers

Lettuces

Radishes

Rocket

Salad leaves

Spring onions

Tomatoes

 

Fruit

Apples

Apricots

Blackberries

Blackcurrants

Blueberries

Cherries

Figs

Melons

Peaches

Pears

Plums

Nectarines

Raspberries

Redcurrants

Strawberries

Whitecurrants

 

 

 

Text and photographs copyright © 2010 Alan Buckingham.

 

Allotment month by month by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Allotment Month by Month
(Dorling Kindersley, 2009)
Grow Vegetables by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Grow Vegetables
(Dorling Kindersley, 2007)
Grow Fruit by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Grow Fruit
(Dorling Kindersley, 2010)