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As the hot summer months draw to a close, it's an exciting time for gardeners who have patiently waited for their harvest to ripen. August is a bountiful month, with plenty of vegetables and fruits ready to be enjoyed. In the vegetable garden, carrots, onions, sweetcorn, tomatoes, peas and pumpkins can be found, ripe for the picking, alongside fruits such as blackberries and raspberries. Warm summer evenings can be spent selecting crops from the garden, ready to be made into some delicious dishes.

What to harvest

A variety of fully grown produce will be ready for harvest in this season. Gardeners can expect to pick an abundance of vegetables such as cucumbers, beans, carrots, beetroot, turnips, courgettes, sweetcorn, potatoes, pumpkins, peas, chillies, peppers, marrows, etc. The list goes on! Fruits such as apples, blackberries, figs, peaches, pears, melons, and blueberries will be ripe for the picking also. There are lots of crops to choose from in August, but the stars of the show tend to be tomatoes that are rich in colour, raspberries that will have reached maximum sweetness by this time, basil with whole smooth leaves that will complement the rest of your summer produce, and plump medium sized nectarines that are full of fibre.

Preparing for harvest

Just before your crops are ready to be picked, it’s crucial that important care and maintenance is carried out so that the fruits and veg are at their best in time for harvest. To make the most of this time, it is paramount to properly prepare your garden by ensuring that it is well-watered and free from pests such as aphids and caterpillars. It is vital to remove weeds as often as you can, as they will compete with the vegetables for water, and often act as hosts for pests and disease. Pruning your plants and removing any deadheads or yellowing leaves will help keep your produce healthy, and further promote their growth.

When to harvest

August is the month of harvest for many fruits and vegetables, making it an exciting and rewarding time for gardeners. By staying observant and knowing when to harvest, you'll ensure that your hard work pays off with delicious, perfectly ripe produce. A lot of it comes down to personal preference, and staying vigilant to see when the crops reach the optimal size for your use. When it comes to tomatoes and peppers, you’re looking for a good even skin colour on each fruit. Whereas for root vegetables such as beetroots and turnips, you’ll be looking for them to be around the size of a golf ball for optimum tenderness; anything smaller and you’ll be met with woody roots.

Tools for the job

When harvesting your bounty of nutritious crops, it's important to have the right tools for the job. When unearthing potatoes, a large gardening fork is preferable as it can reach deep into the soil to draw the potatoes out. When harvesting your berries, a handheld berry picking tool will make the process more efficient, as it combs through the bush, scooping up the berries as it goes. A sickle is a handy tool with a curved blade that is great for harvesting big bunches of leaves and branches at once. Garden shears are an important tool to harness, to aid you in pruning back overgrown branches, as well as harvesting fragrant herbs.

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