Clear warm windowsills, tidy your greenhouses and prepare small pots, punnets and trays for sowing seeds of aubergine, capsicum, chilli, cucumber, zucchini and tomato. These will produce seedlings ready for the first signs of settled warm weather in a couple of months’ time. If you are in a really cold part of the country then a cold frame or greenhouse may come in handy as you await the right growing conditions outdoors. In the shorter term, sowing and planting kohlrabi, early peas, mizuna, beetroot and carrots where soil is workable and periodically sun-kissed should serve up some welcome produce in spring. Plant rhubarb crowns in richly composted soil and watch out for slugs and snails. August is also a last chance to plant garlic. For those with a long-term garden plan its time to plant asparagus crowns for a succulent, spring harvest that could keep recurring for up to 20 years.
Leeks, cabbages and turnips sown last autumn should be ready around now along with broccoli, spinach, silverbeet, cauliflower and kohlrabi. Early season avocados can be harvested when they reach mature size. Pick them when they are still hard – they don’t actually soften on the tree – keep them at room temperature for a few days and they should be ready. Tamarillos are often at their best in August and olives are also ready for trees to be shaken onto a sheet or tarpaulin – the easiest way to gather them quickly. Citrus is in good shape around now too with oranges. Lemons, mandarins and grapefruit all adding some zest to mid winter.
Time to check your tools are all in good shape and well-oiled. Wait for a sunny day and empty your shed onto the lawn or driveway. Go through all hand tools and check handles and heads are still firmly fixed and without wobbles. Cutting tools such as secateurs, shears, loppers and hoes can be sharpened with a sharpening stone that can be purchased from a hardware store. Oil all moving tools and use a wire brush or fine sandpaper to remove any rust that has appeared on blades etc. Once clean, rub with an oil-soaked cloth. Use linseed oil or beeswax to rub down all wooden tool handles and keep them clean and flexible.more
"“Just grow stuff that you know you are going to eat.”"
Now is a good time to revitalize mature globe artichokes. As plants get older their bases become unproductive and crowded with stems. As they are semi-dormant right now – just beginning to push on with new growth – plants can be lifted from the soil with roots attached. You’ll notice that around the outer edge of your clump there are smaller plantlets forming with a new main stems and roots beneath. Use a spade to cut these into separate pieces unless they easily fall apart. It might be worth trimming foliage back so that plantlets don't topple over when you re-plant them.
With leaves absent on many check fruit trees, vines and shrubs it is easy to go on the hunt for egg cases of passion vine hoppers. Passion vine hoppers are those small, brownish, delta-winged insects that suck sap from a wide variety of fruiting plants through summer. Because they and their fluffy-bummed immature larvae can get airborne very quickly they are very difficult to control. If you spot any egg cases cut them out and burn them now, if removal might damage a cherished plant then try smearing the long, slit-like cases with vaseline or covering with tape to impede hatching in the coming months.