Summer is on our doorstep! This means a number of things for your garden: a chance to nourish your plants before the midsummer heat arrives, time to get your heat-loving annuals and vegetables in the ground, and the season to start being water-wise.
SPOTLIGHT ON: WATER-SAVERS & HEAT-LOVERS
Avoid a thirsty summer garden by planting heat-tolerant and drought-resistant plants. This doesn’t mean you have to go for dull plants and drab colours; create a beautiful display for summer by planting red salvias, vincas, gazanias or portulacas.
Work towards a water-wise garden with these handy tips:
- Before you water, stick your finger a few centimetres into the soil to check the moisture content. Sometimes soil looks dry on top, but it’s moist a few centimetres below.
- Water less frequently, but more deeply. This will encourage your plants to develop deeper root systems, which are more drought resistant (the temperature can be up to 5°C cooler just 10cm below the soil).
- Use a fine nozzle to water new seedlings.
- Water established beds by flooding: place the tip of the hosepipe right into the garden bed, so that minimal water is lost to evaporation.
- Avoid watering on windy days, as wind accelerates evaporation. It’s also best to water before 9am in the morning or after 5pm in the evening, rather than during the heat of the day.
Plant and Sow:
- Plant heat-loving bedding plants like salvias, gazanias, vinca, petunias and dianthus.
- Get your heat-loving herbs like basil, rosemary, origanum, sage, thyme, chives, rocket and fennel in the ground.
- Sow vegetables like beetroot, carrots, celery, eggplants, gem squash, radishes, cabbage, tomatoes, runner beans and rhubarb.
- Plant summer bulbs like amaryllis, gladioli, galtonia, cannas, lilies and dahlias – this is your last month to do it! Keep them well watered and feed them once a month with a liquid fertiliser.
November is one of the most important months for feeding your garden. 80% of the total annual growth of plants happens between September and December every year, so it’s essential to feed your plants during this period. December can often be too warm to feed plants (and lawns), so November is your chance to really boost your garden in preparation for a beautiful summer display.
As a general rule, most garden and container plants benefit from a good feeding with 3:1:5 fertiliser.
Prune and trim:
- Prune confetti bushes, spiraea, deutzia, geraniums, bougainvilleas and other flowering climbers after their initial spring flush.
- Raise the blades on your lawnmower and mow more frequently (once a week) for lush, finely textured lawn.
- Support dahlias with stakes and pinch out the first new buds to encourage healthy, lateral growth.
- Lift and divide irises after they have flowered. Replant them in well-composted, mulched soil.
- Spray grape vines to prevent fungal diseases like powdery mildew.
OTHER FRESH IDEAS
Grow your own: Runner beans
Aside from producing an abundant veggie crop, runner beans have very attractive foliage and pretty red or white flowers. Also known as string beans, they are longer than green beans, and have a stronger flavour. little water. Keep it close to the kitchen as its aromatic fragrance and flavour make it one of the most delightful herbs for cooking.