We’re thrilled to be working with the gardening oracle that is Emma Crawforth of Gardeners’ World. To complement our seasonal reccomendations, illustrations and selection of some of our favourite recipes, she’ll be providing top-notch gardening advice, giving us a better understanding of the plants we eat.
This month is filled with reasons to get outside and enjoy growing your own; with National Allotment Week (9-15 August), Eat Outside Day (31 August) and a bank holiday, it couldn’t be a better time to have Emma on board.
Fully developed colour and shiny skin are good indicators of tomato ripeness – they should feel slightly tender, neither soft nor hard. While the fruits ripen best on the plant, left too long they will split. Most tomatoes come away from the plant easily, but others need cutting off. For the best flavour, choose good varieties – such as Sungold or Black Opal – grow in full sun, neither overwater nor overfeed, and harvest at the right time. Refrigeration is the enemy of tomato flavour, but be aware that ripe fruits give off ethylene, which hastens ripening in others, so if you’ve picked a lot, use them quickly.
Tip: Try adding a splash of vodka to this tomato & basil granita just before serving to make it extra special.
Also known as green beans or common beans, these need hardly any prep at all. You can top and tail them, but we often just take off the woody top stalk and leave the curly end intact. Great simmered for just a few mins until tender and dressed in vinaigrette, or the unusual sweet-nutty topping in our maple pecan beans.
Tip: Pick French beans regularly (every few days) in the morning when they’re firmest, then store them in the fridge. This routine helps to catch them in peak condition and encourages the plants to produce more beans.
See our green bean collection for more recipes.
Sweetcorn is very simple to cook in water, but corn on the cob also cooks really well on the barbecue. You can either barbecue it wrapped in foil or in its own papery husk for 8-15 mins. Unwrap and serve with a flavoured butter or oil, like our corn with coriander butter.
Tip: Test sweetcorn cobs for ripeness as soon as the tassels and tops turn brown. Peel back the husk covering, then puncture the yellow cob with your thumbnail. If you see milky (not clear) juice, it’s time to harvest by pulling, rather than cutting, the cob off.
A key player in savoury summer salads and potato dishes, basil is an extremely versatile herb. Its subtle, slightly peppery note also pairs well with fruits like melon, strawberry and lemon, so try using it to garnish desserts, as you would with mint. Try it with our garlic, basil & olive oil mash.
Tip: It’s easy to overwater basil – soak the compost and let it dry out before watering again. Do this in the morning so your plant isn’t sitting in wet compost overnight.
Garden tasks for August
- Sow seeds of winter salad leaves, radishes and spring cabbages.
- Keep harvesting summer veg, always looking out for crops that are ready.
- Snip off and use the tops of herb shoots frequently, to keep them bushy.
- Prune trained apples, pears and cherries. Cut out the old canes of summer-fruiting raspberries when you’ve finished harvesting them.
- Prune plums after fruiting.
- Lift onions with a fork and leave on top of the soil to dry out for a few days in dry weather.
For more seasonal gardening tips, see Gardeners’ World.
Seasonal food dates in August
6 August: International Beer Day
If traditional beer isn’t your thing, see our non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beer review.
9-15 August: National Allotment Week
26 August: National Burger Day
See our burger collection for our best ever burgers.
See our seasonal calendar for more inspiration.
More seasonal recipes and information…
Which fruit and veg do you enjoy in August? Leave a comment below…
Emma Crawforth is a qualified horticulturist who trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and is the gardening editor for BBC Gardeners’ World. Miriam Nice is a published author and illustrator. She has written over 350 recipes for BBC Good Food.
The August issue of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine is on sale now.