August

August has the best days: long and sunny, with warm balmy evenings to enjoy with friends.

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.

Sam Keen
Blue skies and clouds on a summers day in Dorset

August, the month of holidays and Harvest. August feels like the countryside is taking a break too, preparing itself for the winds of autumn and the rigors of Winter. By now the young birds have fledged, and even the second brood of young blackbirds have an element of independence. Meadows shimmer in the heat, rivers flow lazily along and the trees wave lazily in the gentle summer breeze. We can have the notion that autumn is the season for harvest, possibly because of harvest festival and the associated feasts and carnivals – however, in farming terms, Autumn is year-end. High summer is harvest, the whole reason for summer holidays, to release the children from school to help with the harvest.

Notable Dates in August

30th July – 2nd August – Bestival

1st August – Square Fair

3rd August – Full Moon

5th – 9th August – RHS Garden Hyde Hall Flower Show

6th – 9th August – Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

8th – 15th August – Cowes Week

14th – 16th August – RHS Garden Rosemoor Flower Show

15th August – Race the Train

15th & 16th August – The Garlic Festival

19th August – New Moon.

20th – 23rd August – Green Man Festival

28th – 29th August – Frocester Beer Festival

29th August – World Bog Snorkelling Championships

31st August – Summer Bank Holiday

31st August – World Gravy Wresting Championships

August seasonal Foods

What is seasonal in August.

If you would like a selection of Seasonal Organic produce, try Riverford veg, fruit and meat boxes

Greens and leaves: Basil, Broccoli, Chervil, Cavolo nero, Cabbage, Lamb’s lettuce, Lettuce, Mint, Pak choi, Radicchio, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach, Swiss chard, Watercress.

Roots and other veg:  Aubergine, Beetroot, Broad bean, Carrot, Celery, Courgette, Courgette flower, Fennel bulb, Garlic, Globe artichoke, Kohlrabi, Onion, Spring onion, Mangetout, Marrow, Pepper, Potato, Peas, Radish, Runner bean, Tomato.

Meat: Beef, Chicken, Grouse, Guinea fowl, Lamb, Pork.

Fruits: crab apple, Blackberry, Gooseberry, Loganberry, Raspberry, Redcurrant, Strawberry, Tayberry.

Seafood: Crab, Halibut, Salmon, Kipper, Mackerel, Tuna.

Exotics: Banana, Fig, Peach, Pomegranate, Nectarine, Watermelon.

In nature

August is the month of long, lazy, hazy days. Golden fields and swooping birds.

Harvest in full swing across the countryside, allotments, and gardens. Time for camping, the beach, sitting back with a long cool drink and enjoying the heat.

Even though it is the height of summer the nights are starting to draw in – as yet not unpleasantly so. Evenings can be spent walking in parks or countryside, seeing friends, enjoying a pint in a beer garden, or eating alfresco. Watching the swallows and swifts swoop overhead, the resident birds having taken leave from their territories. Taking time to enjoy the balmy twilight as bats and owls awake to patrol their beat.

The mornings too are changing. If there is a heatwave, they may provide the only pleasant respite as dawn creeps ever later. There may be dew on the plants and the feeling that autumn is lying in wait.

A bounty of fruits around, with trees and bushes laden with fruits and berries.

On the Farm

Harvest. The harvest is now in full swing, and on good dry days can almost be a 24-hour operation. As the crop ripens farmer will be looking for optimum moisture content in the grain. Too damp and it will need to be machine dried, a very expensive procedure, too dry, and money is lost as the yield weight will be lighter. All the talk is about the yield.

There may still be the taking of silage, and in some places hay. This year’s young cattle and sheep gaining size fast. Animals rotate around fields following regrowth after cropping or place onto downlands following shearing.

Some fields already being ploughed and sown with this year’s winter crops of Barley, Wheat and oilseed. Some may have been undersown with another crop such as grass or green manure crops to help bind the soil after harvest and improve fertility naturally. The ground may be harrowed to open it up to allow rain to soak in rather than run off – invaluable with the threat of thunderstorms.

The colours changing from the greens of early summer to a golden glow.

A field of sunflowers

Things to do in August

In the August garden

What to plant and sow

Gardening hints

Ipsum text

Out and about

Sultry Days, Balmy evenings – and thunderstorms.

Out on a river on a sunny summers day

Recipe of the month.

Mackerel  (Two ways)

Mackerel is a joy of summer. If you can get it fresh, all the better, if not, try good quality smoked mackerel.

If you are at the coast, getting fresh mackerel is probably a must, even if you are scared of cooking fresh fish that may be giving you the beady eye.

1 – Smoked Mackerel and Tomatoes

Possibly the tastiest, simplest, succulent, summer supper. Both main ingredients very much in season. If you can get homegrown tomatoes, either grown yourself, from a friend, or from the farm gate, all the better.

This is a rustic dish, so just enjoy and don’t fret about the prep. Ideal for a late evening supper watching the sunset.

Ingredients

  • A packet of smoked Mackerel
  • Some homegrown seasonal tomatoes
  • Vinegar: traditional malt, or balsamic
  • Basil (Optional)
  • Some pepper, fresh ground black, ideally

Equipment.

  • Tweezers
  • Scissors

Preparation

1 – Wash and slice the tomatoes, medium thickness. layer on a plate. Sprinkle vinegar: malt for traditional English, balsamic for a Mediterranean twist (add basil if desired). Grind fresh black pepper over.

2 – Use scissors to get into the smoked Mackerel packet. It is worth Pin boning the mackerel for a more pleasant dish (see below). Hold fillet skin side down, bend gently pushing the middle of the fillet towards you. The fillet should break and the skin remains intact. Peel the two halves of fillet from the centre outwards to remove the skin. Break the fillet into fork sized pieces. Spread over the tomatoes.

Cooking

That’s it! Enjoy. If you want something more substantial, serve with good quality wholemeal bread and butter, or maybe some buttered potatoes.

2 – Grilled Mackerel and Tomato Ceviche

Fresh mackerel is the best. Try Mackerel line fishing from a beach, pre-make the ceviche and cook the mackerel on a bucket BBQ. You can, of course, buy the fish from a fishmonger or at the harbour. All fishmongers (and many fishermen) will gut the fish for you.

Filleting mackerel isn’t as daunting as it seems – watch this video on How to Debone a Mackerel

Ingredients

  • Fresh mackerel fillets
  • olive oil
  • Fresh homegrown tomatoes
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium red onion
  • Basil leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Equipment.

  • Tweezers (surgical forceps are even better)
  • Mandolin (Optional)
  • BBQ or griddle pan.

Preparation

  • Pinbone the Mackerel
  • Roughly chop the tomatoes
  • Finely slice the onion (using the Mandolin or knife skills)
  • Finely slice the chilli

Cooking

1 – Put the tomatoes, sliced chilli and onion in a bowl and stir to combine. Grate over the zest of the lemon and squeeze in the juice, mixing until evenly incorporated.

2 – Season with salt and pepper. Stir in enough olive oil to ensure that the ingredients are lightly coated, but not flooded with oil. Stir lightly to preserve as much of the tomato texture as possible.

3 – Oil the Mackerel slightly to prevent sticking. It is an oily fish, but sometimes a little extra oil is needed. On a Preheated BBQ or Griddle (or frying pan if no griddle available) place the fillets skin side down for 2 – 4 minutes, take care not to overcook. Ideal the skin will become lovely and crisp. Flip and cook for 30 seconds.

4 – Place the ceviche on plates, place mackerel on top and enjoy.

Activities, things to see and do in August

With lengthening days arise more opportunities to get out and about. To see what is happening in nature and the countryside. There is also a lot more to see as they year really starts to get going.

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August in pictures