EARLY fog and frost are all too familiar to Tablelands farmers.
This winter has been more fog than frost, thanks to weeks of cloudy weather, but now the sun has shyly reappeared and spring isn't far off.
August is the terrifying month when it dawns on me how much I have to do before the garden leaps into action in September.
I start by checking the vegie garden for weeds, in particular the asparagus bed.
This is vital, as asparagus plants take three to four years to establish before you can harvest them.
Should couch grass, say, get into asparagus the only answer, as anyone, me included, who has dealt with couch knows - though thankfully never among the asparagus - is to dig up the asparagus, clear its roots of couch and replant it, which gives it a highly undesirable setback.
You can avoid this by keeping asparagus beds thickly mulched at all times, but mulch breaks down eventually and August is a good time to check and renew it if necessary.
Remove last seasons' dead ferny fronds at the same time if you didn't get around to it earlier.
The remainder of the vegie patch can be cleaned up now, a great chance to spread compost, the best fertiliser.
If you're making a new vegie garden, dig in as much compost as you can as it will add humus to the soil, essential for good vegetables.
August is a good time to pull out last season's spinach and silver beet, as the leaves are usually pretty tough and leathery by now.
Weeds (apart from couch which I burn) can all go on the compost heap at this time of the year, August being the ideal time to start a new heap.
Kitchen and garden waste breaks down into soil when you alternate fresh (green) material with dried (brown), adding a cowpat or two from time to time, and aerating the heap by occasionally turning it over with a fork.
Small shrubby plants like ornamental flowering sages (Salvia sp.), Chinese plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) and Russian sage (Perovskia, now Salvia atriplicifolia) can be cut back to ground level in August.
Flowering perennials that have become too big for their boots can be dug up and divided now.
Replant what you need and pot up any leftover treasures for school and garden club plant stalls.
I'm about to tackle my furry grey lamb's ears (Stachys byzantinus) as I love the big leaves at the front of a border.
Ornamental grasses can wait for another month on the higher ranges before being divided, as it's best to do this just before they shoot in spring.
Watch your deciduous fruit trees closely in August for the first sign of bud swell and spray with lime sulphur, a fungicide that helps control diseases and insect pests.
Mix with water and use the same day.
Do this before the leaves appear.
Finally, take five minutes to admire the last special flowers of winter: snowdrops (Galanthus), hellebores and sweet-smelling Algerian irises.
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