Gardening with Ruth
Man am I ever sick of the wet weather we are having. Even the tops of the hills on the property are getting muddy! So unless you have very free draining sandy soil do not start cultivating your garden yet. It will end up as a mud pie.

You can however start sowing vegetables and spring flower seeds under cover in mid August so they will be ready to plant out in early October. Tomato, peppers and chillies started now will give you a head start for the summer growing season.

Plant out strawberries and give any established plants a feed with berry fertilizer. Cover with a straw mulch to keep the roots warm and when flowers start to appear around October, cover them with netting to keep the birds out. However our plants which I left in from last year have flowers on them now. Not sure if any fruit will eventuate as it may be too cold.

The one plant that is really enjoying the cold weather is my outdoor cyclamen. They are giving a beautiful display of colour in small spots around the garden. I am thinking very strongly about planting groups of them under the trees to give a bright splash on dull days.

Bulbs should be starting to show colour and will be at their best later in the month and during September. Deadhead them after they have finished flowering so as the bulb does not put energy into forming seed heads. Allow the foliage to yellow off before cutting back. This allows the energy to go back into the bulb and prepare it for a great flowering display next year.

Spray fruit trees with copper to help keep disease at bay. Continue to weed and maintain garden beds. Pick lettuce and silverbeet. Harvest brassicas as they mature and replant to ensure a continued supply.

Give your lawns a bit of attention by fertilizing or spray with a liquid which contains a moss and broadleaf weed killer to give a boast to spring growth. If your lawn has been compacted by traffic over the wetter months, take a garden fork and push it into the soil down to about 10cm and lever it to open up small holes. This will ‘aerate’ the soil and encourage new growth.

Try planting radish in a warm spot or in a wide topped pot. Beets are another good crop to plant now and use them as baby bite sized additions to roast veges or early salads.

Prepare for the busy season in the garden by sharpening and cleaning tools.

August  by the moon:

1-5  Cultivate only.

6-14  Plant top bearing crops. Peas seeds planted now should be ready for Christmas

15-16 Prune dormant trees such as peach, plum, pear etc and continue to harvest vegetable crops.

17 -18 Take a break and enjoy the birds.

19 – 22 Use liquid fertilizer on foliage plants.

23-27 Clean tools and prepare for next round of planting.

28-31 Sow carrots, beets and other root crops into well manured soil. Mix seeds with a little sand or radish seeds to spread them.

I have just bought my early Cliffs Kidney seed potatoes and will be setting them to sprout over the next two to three weeks ready to plant out. They should be ready to dig for Christmas dinner.

This is soup weather and we often have a pot on the stove top. One of my favourites is spiced pumpkin but I found an old Alison Holst recipe that I adapted and made a good one out of my harvest.

Broccoli and blue cheese soup

I used 1 large onion sautéed in a little oil until it was soft

Then added 2tsp garlic paste

Added some maggi cream of chicken soup mixed with three cups water

Then a couple of old spuds cut into cubes and boiled the whole lot until spuds were soft.

Then 3 medium heads and stalks of broccoli cut into cubes and a handful of rocket – that has gone made in the hydroponics. Brought it back to the boil for about 10 minutes and added some blue brie and blue cheese that had been in the fridge for a bit long to eat it on its own. Simmered until the cheese was melted then seasoned to taste and added 1 cup of cream and a cup of milk. Brought it all back up to heat then blitzed it in the pot with a wand blender until it was smooth and creamy.

Served with toasted Ciabatta bread and it was delicious.

For a gluten free version use stock instead of maggi soup.

Cyclamen are giving a bright show on dull days.

Rocket and silverbeet are growing like wild fire in the glasshouse.

Silverbeet is taking over the winter garden.

Time to control moss and weeds in the lawn.

It is even muddy on the top of the hill.