Tomatoes The pots or grow bags containing tomato plants will now be packed solid with roots. Watering once a day may not be enough. Shortage of water can lead to real problems. Blossom end rot is exacerbated by irregular watering. Lack of calcium causes dark brown spots on the fruit. Pick off and destroy such fruit. Regular watering and feeding will avoid such damage. Tomato skins also harden with water shortage, and dry plants given water give rise to fruit swelling and skins splitting. Indoor Cordon Type Tomatoes Stop the leading shoot by late August or after six trusses have formed. Remove any brown withered lower leaves. Watch out for signs of tomato blight. Winter Spinach This makes a pleasant change from seasonal brassicas. “Prickly of Winter” (the term relates to the seed not the leaf) spinach can be sown between early August and mid September. It grows best in a sheltered site, such as a border near a wall or fence. Watering Tips For Good Vegetables In general keep roots moist at all times, watering root crops such as carrots and parsnips after a dry period can cause splitting. Watering bulb onions in the latter stages of growth can lead to a delay in ripening. For most leafy crops such as lettuce, spinach, celery and the cabbage family frequent watering will not only increase amounts, but ensures succulent crops. Spraying greenhouse cucumber and outdoor runner beans with clean water will help to contain red spider mite. Speckled, pale leaves turning brown are a sure sign of the pest. Spray upper and under each leaf. A cure for this pest is not available for use on edible crops. Pruning This Month Wisteria There is still time to cut back the current year’s side growth to about six inches if the shoots are not required to train for further coverage. Flowering takes place on short spur growths which should be encouraged by pruning. Plums and Cherries (Fruiting and Ornamental) Due to the risk of silver leaf disease pruning should be kept to the minimum. August is the last month when any pruning is carried out, the next chance June/July next year. Silver leaf is a very serious infection and can strike on any wounds throughout the year. Severe infection will almost certainly see the tree die. Lilacs and Other Summer Flowering Shrubs These should be pruned as soon as flowering comes to an end. Pruning creates a shapely bush and lets in light and air. Removal of dead flower spikes on lilacs improves the quality next year this applies to many shrubs. Roses It is advisable to feed nitrogen fertiliser to any roses after July. To do so will encourage soft weak growth. Sulphate of Potash applied at two ounces to each bush is beneficial as it assists in the ripening of stem wood. Last application for sulphate of potash is the end of August. Flowers for Drying August is a good time to cut flowers of statice, helichrysum, acrolinum for drying. Hung upside down in any dry place will provide lovely winter decorations. Astrantia A second flush of flowers appear in August on these delightful border flowers. Papery bracts opened at the end of May with centre tiny flowers like a pincushion, shades of pink, red, burgundy or white. Astrantia Major Alba opens as a greenish white flower, but now in August it has become a clear white that will continue to October and beyond. Look out for the many delightful varieties of the Astrantia. This flower is a much for most gardens. Attracts bees and butterflies and whilst it prefers moist soil, will do well in most gardens. Deadheading It is important to continue removing spent flowers from container displays, roses and border plants to ensure a lasting display. Junior Section A standard seed tray can be wooden or plastic measuring 14” long, 8 ½” wide and 2 ½” in depth. This is an approx size. A miniature garden in a standard seed tray can be designed in as many ways as a real garden. Natural material will be found in most gardens. Artificial materials can be used in any exhibit but has less “feeling”, use by all means but perhaps sparingly. Cress is a useful and easy to grow salad crop. It can be grown all the year round providing a temperature of 50◦ to 60◦F (10◦ to 16◦C) is given. Any good multipurpose compost bulb fibre, or sandy soil can be used to sow cress. Why not prepare six egg shells place in an egg carton box. Select the best for the show and eat the remaining five. Water compost before sowing, sprinkle seed evenly over the surface. Press seeds carefully into moist compost, no need to cover seed with extra compost. Keep in a dark place or cover from light until germination takes place. Bring into light as soon as seed shoots. From seed sowing to harvest when cress is about three inches high is about sixteen days. Sunflowers Helianthos – From the Greek Helios – The Sun And Anthos – A Flower Flowers yield a yellow dye, edible oil is produced and seeds are fed to fowl. This makes it a plant of economical importance. The world record for the tallest sunflower is held by a Dutchman. It was grown in 1986 and reached a towering height of 25 feet. The largest head of a sunflower may well be seen and recorded at this years village flower. Floating Flowers in a Dish of Water Experiment with various flowers to discover which look well and last best. Fuchsias, Pansies, Begonias, Violas are just a few that are worth a try. One kind of flower seems to have more impact than mixed kinds in a dish. Water lilies are of course ideal for this purpose. Herbs Herbs are defined as plants of which leaves, stem, or flowers are used for food or medicine, or in some way for their scent or flavour. The Language of Cuttings Softwood Cuttings These are taken early in the growing season when they are green both at the tip and the base of the cutting material. Semi-Ripe Cuttings This type of cutting is taken towards the end of the growing season, unusually July/August. This is a good time to take osteopermum and other border plants. This type of cutting can be taken with or without a heel, and about three inches long. Hardwood Cuttings Take this type of cutting between October and March when the stem is hardened and has become woody. These are taken at about nine to twelve inches in length. Rooting can take between five to twelve months in open ground. Heel Cuttings This type of cutting is where the stem is torn off in such a way that retains a portion of the parent branch-a heel-at its base. Tip Cuttings Short portions usually two to six inches in length, taken from the tips of stems. These are the parts used for most softwood and semi ripe cuttings. Leaf-Bud Cuttings This consists of a single leaf, its stalk and a sliver of wood-including a bud from the stem to which the leaf bud was attached. A sharp knife is used to make a crescent- shaped cut in the stem around the stalk. Rooting takes about six weeks. Cutting From Roots There are quite a number of woody or fleshy-rooted plants that can be propagated by root cuttings. Hollyhocks, Anchusa, Romneyaphlox and Gailardias are a few that respond to this method. March is the best month to take cuttings of about four inches in length from a half inch thick root. Cut the bottom ends diagonally, and the top ends square so you know which end is which. Plant them slanted end downwards in a pot or tray of rooting compost and cover the tops with a half inch layer of sand. Young plants should appear in late spring. Grow on but do not plant until autumn. Rooting Hormone Powders or Gel Hormones can enhance the capacity of the stem to produce roots quicker and in greater quantity. If a cutting is taken from a healthy plant at the correct time there might not be the need for the hormone. The base powder is finely ground talc with the chemical known as I.B.A mixed in at a low concentration. Ensure that only the base of the cutting comes into contact with the powder and that none adheres to the outside of the stem cutting. This is important to the development of the plant. Cutting Compost This is usually formulated by an even mix of equal parts of peat and grit (sand). Any compost used should have the ability to retain moisture, and allow air to circulate within the medium. Food for Thought Any Flower Show The final criterion in exhibiting is quality. This definition varies from flowers to vegetables and from vegetables to fruit. However a combination of the following may help to define it: Size, uniformity, colour, freshness and tenderness. Size must of course vary with each exhibit, but generally a good big one will beat a good little one in the same class. Here are some examples: potatoes should be medium size, as should dessert apples, marrows should be moderate in size, young and tender. Dessert pears should be large, as should parsnips. Onions that are other than salad or pickling should also be large. Flowers vary according to types. There are standard sizes required in large shows for some flowers such as dahlias. Uniformity is most obvious in classes such as runner beans. Colour is clearly seen and important on the outside of carrots and inside of beetroot. Dessert apples expect to have colour, whilst cooking varieties are accepted green. Freshness is a must as far as quality is concerned. Well grown fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers have a “bloom” on them as they reach maturity, and this should be preserved by careful handling. Tenderness is very much related to fruit and vegetables. The general appearance of vegetables can be improved by lightly spraying clear water over them, then covering them with a suitable cloth or paper cover which must be removed by you prior to leaving the hall. Definition of a Vase For flower show purposes it is a vessel that has a greater height than the width measurement of its mouth. Look through your local village flower show schedule and support the show with an entry. If it occurs to you that a friend or relative is a grower of some particular flower, fruit or vegetable for which there is a class, please encourage an entry from them.