Welcome to Lee’s gardening advice for August written by local resident and keen gardener, Lee Stevenson (aka An English Gardener in Çalış).
Now we are in the the hottest month you probably find yourself watering every day, I know I am.
When and how to water
It’s best to do any watering at dusk or first thing in the morning before the sun gets to your plants. Water at the base of plants as any water on the foliage will evaporate or just act as a magnifying glass when the sun hits, causing the leaf to burn.
If you grow in pots, one way you can help to keep your plants from drying out is to place old newspaper or small pieces of cardboard near the base of the pot before filling it up with soil. When watered, the paper/cardboard will stay moist longer keeping your plants happy. A tray placed under pots acts as a water reservoir and encourages roots to grow down in search of water.
Growing in pots
Growing in pots is one of the best and easiest ways to grow different plants as most flowers and edibles can be successfully grown in containers.
An added bonus of growing in pots is that you can move them to different areas to either chase the sun or – in the extreme heat – to a shadier spot should your plant require a cooler place.
Its not too late to grow edibles in pots for a ‘winter’ feast. I’ve recently started carrots and new potatoes. The potatoes are leftover from ones bought at Bim that had started to sprout, although sprouted potatoes are still safe to eat if firm to touch, aren’t too wrinkly and shrivelled and the sprouts are small. There are however, toxic concerns with potato sprouts so it’s best to remove them if you intend eating sprouted potatoes.
If you’re growing potatoes this way, place them – with any sprouts upwards – on the soil at the base of a pot, not in a pot already full of soil. As the potato grows, cover the growth gradually leaving a small piece of foliage above the soil until the pot is mostly full of soil. Leave the potato plant to grow until it either starts to die off or produces seed after it has flowered. You should now have some fresh new potatoes that you can get out by simply tipping the pot out.
I’m growing carrots in a pot that is roughly twelve inches deep. I do have more carrots growing than needed for the size of the pot and I’ll remove some when large enough to handle and replant somewhere else. In December I’ll have quite a few straight tasty carrots to enjoy. If you intend to grow carrots this way, try to use compost rather than soil as any stones or hard soil will make your carrots fork and end up stumpy or looking like a pair of legs. If you intend thinning your carrots try to do this next to a smelly plant like onions, mint or garlic in case you accidentally damage a carrot, attracting carrot root fly which will sniff out you carrots and lay eggs nearby for its young to munch on your crop. It’s worthwhile planting carrots close to onions/garlic anyway to help repel this pest.
Salad greens are also easy to grow in pots. Some people use hanging baskets as the range of colours and different leaves make an attractive edible display. The biggest problem you will have with hanging baskets in the current heat we are ‘enjoying’ is keeping them watered. Don’t be afraid to try through, even you don’t get a lot of sun, as salad leaves can be grown in partial shade providing they are kept watered.
If you’re growing tomatoes this year, don’t forget that removing side shoots can help the plant concentrate more on producing fruit and removing some of the lower leaves will help with airflow and cut down on the chance of disease. I’m only growing cherry tomatoes this year as the normal sized ones are freely available at the markets whilst cherry tomatoes are mainly available in the supermarkets in plastic tubs. Tomatoes are also one of the easiest plants from which to harvest seeds. Simply squeeze a tomato onto a tissue or serviette and leave to dry. You now have your own seeds which can be planted with the tissue attached and lightly covered with soil. You will see growth within two weeks.
August is a great month for flowers, with many at their floral best. Sunflowers, Zinnia’s, Dahlia’s, Pinks (I think these look like carnations) & Cosmo are all easy to grow from seed and do well here in Fethiye.
I’m currently trying to harvest sunflower seeds before the Goldfinches eat them all. I also harvest seed from my Cosmos to grow next year in a place I choose rather than where they have self-seeded (with help from the finches) in odd places. I didn’t plant Zinnia’s this year as I still have around 20 different colored plants growing that self-seeded.
Some flower seeds that can be sowed in August are Cornflowers, Antirrhinum (I used to know these as bunny rabbits when I was a kid), Calendula, Pansy and Viola. Although most won’t flower until next year, they will provide spots of color in your gardens/pots.
If you’re wanting a splash of late colour in your borders or pots, plant Chrysanthemum’s (mine bought last year from the market for 10TL are now decent sized plants and starting to grow flower buds) which come in a wide range of colours. Dead head any spent flowers you have and, if in pots, freshen the soil with fresh compost or fertilizer. Above all, keep your plants watered as this may be all they need to produce another lot of blooms.
I’ll leave you with this…
I wasn’t all that interested in gardening, but I planted a few seeds, and it grew on me.
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