Add some late summer colour
A sweetly fragrant plant that works well as a cut flower but can also be used to attract wildlife such as bees and insects into the garden is phlox. Flowering in mid summer through to the end of the autumn, phlox is a superb hardy herbaceous perennial originally from North America, with scented starshaped pink, white and purple/blue flowers. It is the ideal border plant, often used in cottage gardens, but is also good as a cut flower and can grow quite tall so may need some support. Phlox likes a well nourished soil that has been enriched with rotted compost or manure and prefers full sun although it can tolerate partial shade. In late autumn cut the stems right down to the base and then mulch in early spring.
National Garden Gift Vouchers can be bought and redeemed at over 2,000 outlets, with more than 90,000 garden plants and products on offer. Visit www. thevouchergarden.co.uk to see the outlets that sell and accept them. You should be picking tomatoes now, but many may still not be ripe. The secret is optimum sunshine, so remove the yellowing lower leaves up to the first truss. When these have ripened, take off the next set of leaves. If the leaves are really dense, you can thin them a little to help air circulation and light. Cut off the growing tip of the plant, if you haven’t already done so, which will then transfer the remaining energy to the fruits to reach full size. If you still have green tomatoes left when the weather cools off, harvest them and put them in a brown paper bag with a banana and they should ripen more quickly. Alternatively, you can make a terrific green tomato chutney! If the fruits are big, but still not ripe, they will need some support. Feed them regularly with a tomato fertiliser to help them along and pick peppers when they are ripe but the skin is still smooth. If some have wrinkled skins, you may be better adding them to cooked dishes as they won’t taste good raw. Fruits store well and will keep for around 10 days in the fridge. You do not want to be letting your courgettes grow too large or they’ll just become watery, tasteless marrows, so check them at least twice a week, picking them when they reach around 15cm. For best results, feed plants with a dilute tomato feed once a week and harvest them regularly throughout the month to encourage further cropping. Most types will continue to produce fruits until the first frosts. If you want to extend the season, cover the plants at night with garden fleece. If you’re having a late holiday, remove flowers and fruits before you go, which will mean more should have appeared by the time you come back. Like sweetpeas, beans benefit from regular harvesting, which will promote further crops. Throughout summer, you should be picking them every other day, if you can, before they grow tough and stringy. The best time to pick them is when the bean snaps cleanly without any string, when it’s around 17-18cm long. Leave them too long and the cropping will also fall off. Pick off every bean to prolong cropping into late summer and if you’re lucky, you should be picking them until October. Those you can’t eat can easily be blanched or frozen, to enjoy through the winter months. Now, you will no doubt have being enjoying home-grown lettuce since late spring if you’ve sown batches at twoweek intervals to keep up the supplies throughout summer. But you can even make a final sowing in August for an autumn crop, sowing a loose leaved type and harvesting the leaves as required. Oriental leaves such as pak choi, mizuna and komatsuna are best sown from midsummer onwards as earlier crops tend to produce flowers rather than leaves. To get the best flavour, harvest lettuces in the early morning when the leaves are at their freshest and only take what you need. To store them, dampen them under the tap and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge to keep them moist.