What's in season: August
Heat-loving crops like tomatoes, cucumbers and chilies are in their prime now. Even aubergines and peppers, which are imported to the UK all year round, can be found growing in British greenhouses and veg gardens this month.
If you don't grow your own, visit your local farm shop, market or greengrocers to enjoy all that summer has to offer.
Vegetables to harvest or buy
- Courgettes and summer squash
- French beans
- Lettuce and other salad leaves
- Peas and mangetout
- Peppers and chilies
- Runner beans
- Spring onions
Fruit to harvest or buy
- Early apple varieties such as ‘Discovery’
This month we're talking about sweetcorn
There is nothing like sweetcorn picked, peeled and popped in the pan straight away. It bears little resemblance to those starchy, ready prepared cobs you find wrapped in plastic on the supermarket shelves. If you don’t grow your own, look for cobs at greengrocers which are sold in their leafy husks, as these keep fresher for longer. The individual yellow kernals should release a milky liquid when cut into.
Sweetcorn is a close relation of maize but, while maize is left to mature and become starchy so the kernals can be ground into flour, sweetcorn is eaten young and sweet. Fresh sweetcorn has been enjoyed by Native Americans for centuries and is now popular all over the world. Modern varieties we buy in the UK or grow ourselves have been bred to be extra sweet.
Harvesting in the garden
Tomatoes are ripening quickly
Tomatoes will be ripening fast and need picking daily. If any of yours have a black patch at their base it’s a sign of irregular watering, so try to water more often and never let them dry out.
A daily harvest
Courgettes and summer squash may need daily harvesting. Turn your back on them and they can swell into huge marrows, which are less tasty and not so useful in the kitchen.
Plums are ready to pick when they feel soft to the touch. Don’t wait until they start falling off or being eaten by wasps. You’ll usually need to pick a tree in a few stages, taking the ripest fruits each time.
Picking for freshness
Harvest cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower as soon as they heart up or produce their heads. Don’t wait too long as they go over quickly and begin to flower.
Chillies often change colour as they ripen, usually going from green to red. You can eat them at any stage but once they are fully ripe, pick and dry them indoors rather than leaving them to shrivel on the plant.