Your Summer Garden

Your Summer Garden

”Then followed that beautiful season…

Summer….

Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”

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Watering

Level 2 water restrictions are in place in Johannesburg, which prohibits watering of gardens between 06H00 and 18H00 from 1 September to 31 March. This encourages us to water early morning or early evening when evaporation is low. The restrictions also disallow the filling of swimming pools and washing of cars, paving and driveways with a hosepipe.

Check sprinkler systems to ensure that they are only watering planted up areas and not hard landscaping areas.

Watch your plants and get to know their watering needs. Some plants can last longer than you think without watering.  If watering by hand, use a watering can or a hose sprayer with a stop valve.

Spread a thick layer of mulch in all beds to retain moisture, keep soil temperature down and save water.

Add water retention granules, peat, vermiculite, perlite or clay aggregate to baskets, containers and beds to reduce watering needs.

Weed the garden to eliminate unnecessary competition for water.

Invest in a rainwater tank or any suitable containers to harvest precious rain water for the garden. Investigate the harvesting and use of grey water.

Shower with a bucket, especially if you’re in the habit of running the shower until the water heats up, keeping showers as short as possible.

Days are piping hot and rain is not always a sure thing. If you’re going away, ensure that someone waters your garden or that the timer on your irrigation system is working. Group potted plants together in a semi-shaded spot.

As it heats up it is important to water your plants in pots and containers more regularly. Mix water absorbent crystals or cubes into the potting soil of containers and hanging baskets to improve water retention.

Pay special attention to areas of the garden that receive less rain, e.g. under eaves and against high walls. If the down pipes from your gutter run into a bed, ensure the drainage in the bed is sufficient.

Consider installing a drip irrigation system to more efficiently water your garden – enquire at Mica Lifestyle for more info.

Try to water early in the morning during the hot summer months to prevent fungal infestations in the garden and rather water deeply less often.

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Planting and General Care

November:

Plant Hydrangeas now in beds and containers for a Christmas show.  Mulch, keep them moist and feed regularly. They are perfect cut flowers for your Christmas table. Click|HERE| to learn more about growing and using Hydrangeas.

Get ready for the Festive season and add instant colour to pots, baskets and beds around the garden and entertainment area with the wide range of summer annuals available now.

Agapanthus will start flowering now and what a wonderful selection we have available! Choose from new varieties, old favourites, dwarf Agapanthus and large, stunning variegated hybrids and new flower variations, to add to your beds and borders.

Water rose bushes deeply 3 times per week (approximately 15L per week) unless it rains sufficiently. Remove all spent flowers.

Water summer-flowering bulbs deeply twice a week and feed once a month with a balanced bulb food or 3:1: 5 fertilizer. Resist cutting back the green leaves of bulbs that have finished flowering, allowing them to die back naturally as they still provide energy to the bulb, which is stored for next season’s blooms.

Fynbos-type plants can be pruned now to stimulate new growth and promote abundant flowering next season.

Remember to mulch, mulch and mulch!

December:

Birdbaths will need to be cleaned and topped up more regularly during the hot months to provide a drink and a quick dip for our feathered friends.

Fill gaps in beds and hanging baskets with annuals and water very well. Annuals in colour bags are the perfect way to quickly spruce up your beds in time for Christmas entertainment. In shady areas and on patios add a dash of colour with Impatiens, New Guinea Impatiens, Coleus, Begonias and Hypoestes. The choice for sunny areas is more varied – choose your favourite from Dianthus, Lobelias, Petunias, Salvias, Celosias, Marigolds, Gazanias, Zinnias and Alyssum.

Plant bougainvillea to add beautiful masses of summer colour to your garden – available in various sizes and colours, they can withstand intense heat and will survive infrequent watering. Other popular choices for colour all summer long are Hemerocallis, Mandevilla, and Hibiscus.

Plant ground covers to act as mulch during the hot season – ground covers assist in holding moisture and decreasing evaporation which in turn helps to retain the nutrients in the soil.

Buy poinsettias for decor and table enhancements during the festive season. Feast your eyes on the new varieties available this year in a range of colours to suit any Christmas theme! Once they have played their role, these striking beauties can be planted in a shady spot in your garden. Click |HERE| to learn more about Poinsettias.

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January

With prolonged rain, nutrients leach out of the soil. Fertilise the whole garden this month with organic 3:1:5 for flowering and fruiting plants and 8:1:5 for other foliage plants and lawns.

Deadhead summer annuals, replace spent ones or fill gaps in beds with new seedlings that are not too ‘thirsty’ and will endure the heat. Feed all annuals in beds, baskets and containers fortnightly with an organic liquid fertilizer.

Check rose bushes for signs of black spot, aphids, red spider mite and chafer beetles and spray fortnightly if needed. Fertilise with a balanced rose fertiliser and water deeply 3 times per week (about 15L per week), unless it rains sufficiently. Give rose bushes a light pruning this month to encourage another flush of flowers.

If you’re adding new plants to your garden, plant them early in the morning or in the late afternoon. Water thoroughly before and after planting. It is best to wait until autumn to transplant existing shrubs and perennials.

Trim and shape unruly topiaries, evergreen hedges and standards.

Fruit and Veggies

November:

Continue with successive plantings, in small quantities at three week intervals, of fast growing vegetables that you use often like lettuce, radish, Swiss chard, beans and cherry tomatoes. The same goes for annual herbs you love and use all the time like basil, coriander and parsley.

Top up the mulch around vegetables and water early in the morning before it gets too hot.

Leaves and peels of vegetables can be added to your bokashi bin or compost bin/heap.

Enjoy harvesting the first of your summer veg and continue to harvest to stimulate new production.

Now is the time to start planting berries to harvest in late summer or autumn.  We have a range of mouth-watering berry plants to choose from in the nursery at the moment.

Harvest fruit regularly.  Continue watering during dry spells.

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December:

Plant loose-leafed lettuces at weekly intervals for summer salads – plant these in the shade of taller plants, like Swiss chard or in beds and pots that only receive morning sun.

Support vine tomatoes against stakes or obelisks and fix with soft plant ties to prevent the stems from breaking. Ensure good air flow between the vines. Cherry tomato varieties are available at Lifestyle.

Water veg and herbs early in the morning to prevent blight, powdery mildew and other fungal diseases on leaves. Larger plants can be watered twice a week, while younger plants and those with a shallow root system might need a daily watering.

Fertilise veg and herbs fortnightly with an organic liquid fertiliser.

Fertilise all citrus trees with an organic 8:1:5 fertiliser along the driplines of the trees and water in well. Top up mulch around the trees, keeping it well away from the stem. Be careful not to over-water during the rainy season.

Start harvesting potatoes planted in September. Do a second planting of seed potatoes in late December or early January for harvesting in April.

January

Vegetables and herbs could take strain in the heat of the day. Provide some relief by constructing a simple, portable structure from stakes or plastic pipe and 40 – 50% shade cloth, that can be moved around where needed to protect more sun-sensitive plants like lettuce, brinjal, peppers and most herbs.

Water well and top up the mulch layer around plants if necessary.

Harvest potatoes planted in early spring when all the leaves have died down. A second batch of seed potatoes can be planted now for early winter harvesting.

Harvest all vegetables regularly to promote production.

Make a final planting of tomato seedlings. You can also still plant seedlings of beans, sweet corn, leeks, cucumber and zucchini if you provide protection from the hot sun.

Plant a variety of loose-leaf lettuces in a semi-shade position or amongst taller veg like Swiss chard or runner beans.

Look out for seeds for the cooler seasons on the shelves at Lifestyle. Cabbage, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts can be sown now in sowing trays.

If necessary, thin out the fruit on citrus trees and water trees twice a week if rain is insufficient.

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Lawn

Mow lawns weekly and feed once a month with 8:1:5 or a special lawn fertiliser. Water well in the early morning if it hasn’t rained. If possible, reduce your lawn space for a more water wise garden.

In December, set your lawnmower on a higher setting. Keeping the grass blades slightly longer will protect the roots against heat and dry winds. Feed with a fertiliser high in nitrogen or a specially balanced lawn fertiliser of your choice and water very well before and after. Continue watering lawn twice a week, unless it rains.

Come January, Fertilise lawn with organic 5:1:5 and water regularly.

Pests to keep an eye out for

November:

Keep an eye open for lily borer (a black caterpillar with yellow stripes) on lily-like plants such as Clivia, Agapanthus, Arums and Hemerocallis. Treat immediately.

Continue treating deciduous fruit trees against fruit fly and codling moth.

Regularly check plants for aphids, fungus and snails and treat with an appropriate organic pesticide if needed. Click |HERE| for your guide to pests and common diseases.

Check citrus trees for aphids, especially on the new growth.  Spray fortnightly with an organic insecticide or aphicide.

December:

Spray roses fortnightly against fungal infestations and aphids and check for red spidermite.

At Christmas the Christmas beetle or chafer beetle appears – the hard-bodied, sneaky little reason behind the lacy appearance of your rose and other leaves. Because they are nocturnal, chafer beetles are hard to control manually. During the daytime they burrow into the soil around the plants, so a good control measure would be to spray the soil with an organic insecticide. You can visit our Plant Doctor section or ask for assistance at our inside information desk in finding the right treatment.

January:

Keep an eye out for lawn caterpillar, mole crickets or fungus in the lawn and treat if necessary.

Ants are out in full force now. Take the necessary precautions to control them; you can click |HERE| to read our more organic suggestions for dealing with ants in your home and garden.

Continue spraying or putting out bait against fruit fly. Collect fallen fruit around fruit trees and dispose of it in the refuse to prevent fruit flies from breeding.

Regularly check all plants for aphids, white fly and fungal disease and spray fortnightly with an organic pesticide. Put out snail pellets or traps – you can enquire at our inside information desk and plant doctor section for advice on pest control.

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Wildlife in your Garden

Birds will enjoy a little splash in a shallow birdbath during the heat of the day. It is also a source of drinking water for them. Keep it clean and filled up with fresh water. Continue feeding our feathered friends. Lifestyle Home Garden has a large section dedicated to birdfeeders, birdbaths and food of all kinds.

Provide shelter for beneficial insects and animals by installing a bug, bee, butterfly or bat hotel – or all of the above! – also available in our bird section. We even stock portable bee hives if you would like to try your hand at bee keeping. Don’t discard of your broken clay pots – if turned upside down and placed amongst your plants, it might just become home to a frog or two.

Consider investing in plants that will provide food for and attract more wildlife to your garden. Good options available at the moment are:

Polygala myrtifolia (September Bush)

Coleonema pulchrum (Confetti Bush)

Lavandula varieties

Agapanthus varieties

Carissa macrocarpa (Big Num-num)

Tecomaria capensis (Cape Honeysuckle)

Buddleia varieties  (Butterfly Bush)

Leonotis leonorus (Wild Dagga)

Halleria lucida (Wild Fuchsia)

Indoor Plants

Indoor plants need more love and TLC in summer! Given our hot summer days, they tend to dehydrate faster and need misting and more watering. Most will make so happily with twice a week, but watch your plants, as for some this is too much. Stromanthe varieties for example, and succulents kept indoors, will not tolerate too much water.

See our pick of the Top 12 Trendiest Indoor plants by clicking |HERE|

Come Christmas time, give a living gift that will last long after the silly season is over… consider pots or baskets planted up with cheerful colour, a trendy indoor plant or orchid in an attractive potholder, a rose bush for someone special, a window box filled with favourite herbs, a bonsai or a berry bush or a range of fashionable succulents. The possibilities are endless when it comes to living gifts!

The Benefits of Indoor plants are plentiful – read more about these benefits |HERE|.

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Kids in the Garden:

Have fun with the kids and plant some sunflower seeds in the vegetable patch. They will pop up in no time and they grow fast and very tall – just the kind of thing kids like. Birds will also love it when the flowers go into seed.

Click |HERE| to read our blog all about making bird feeders with the kids.

Feeding and Fertilising Your Garden in Summer

In November:

Fertilise roses once a month with 3:1:5 or a balanced rose fertilizer.  Remove all spent flowers.

Feed summer-flowering bulb once a month with a balanced bulb food or 3:1: 5 fertilizer.

Feed veggies monthly with a slow release organic fertilizer.

In December:

If you didn’t feed spring-flowering bulbs – do so now to provide nutrients for the next season. Use 3:1:5 fertiliser or bulb food.

Lawns need a nitrogen-rich fertiliser in September –  we recommend Vita Green 5:1:5. Water the lawn well before and after application.

Fertilise citrus trees with organic 3:1:5 and a cupful of Epsom salts. Spread along the drip-line of trees.

Feed deciduous trees with organic 3:1:5, watering every 10 days.

Through-out August and well into September, fertilise roses with 3:1:5 or Ludwigs Vigarosa, mulch well and water thoroughly.

Pinch out dead flowers from annuals and fertilise with an organic 3:1:5 or a liquid fertiliser.

Mulch and feed strawberries with an organic 3:1:5 fertiliser.

Feed all hydrangeas now to ensure a stunning show for Christmas.

In January:

Feed summer-flowering annuals with water-soluble fertiliser.

Continue to feed bulbs with 3:1:5 or bulb food until foliage dies down.

Fertilise the whole garden this month with organic 3:1:5 for flowering and fruiting plants.

Fertilise roses with a balanced rose food, promoting healthy foliage and bloom production.

Spray roses fortnightly with organic fungicide / insecticide.

Fertilise lawn with organic 5:1:5 and water regularly.

Fertilise lawn In January with a balanced fertilizer like 5:1:5 or 3:1:5 to promote a well-developed root system and continue watering twice a week, unless it rains.

Give all vegetables and herbs a quick boost with a liquid fertiliser and follow up with an organic, slow release fertilizer like 6:3:4

What To Plant in Summer

Bulbs

These are flowering now and should be watered well and fertilised. Resist the urge to cut back green leaves.

Seedlings

Every kind of herb and vegetable seedling can be planted at this time. Refer to the sections above labelled Fruit and Veggies.

Companion Plants

For comprehensive information on companion planting refer to our Companion planting blog – found by clicking |HERE|

Shrubs

Excellent choices for summer include: Polygala myrtifolia (September Bush), Coleonema pulchrum (Confetti Bush), Lavandula varieties, Agapanthus varieties, Carissa macrocarpa (Big Num-num), Tecomaria capensis (Cape Honeysuckle), Buddleia varieties (Butterfly Bush), Leonotis leonorus (Wild Dagga), Halleria lucida (Wild Fuchsia)

Annuals

Impatiens, New Guinea Impatiens, Coleus, Begonias and Hypoestes. The choice for sunny areas is more varied – choose your favourite from Dianthus, Lobelias, Petunias, Salvias, Celosias, Marigolds, Gazanias, Zinnias and Alyssum.

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Seeds to Sow in Summer

Vegetables:

Almost all veggies can be planted by seed in the warm season, provided they are kept moist. For our Seed Sowing Guide click |HERE| where you will find guidance on sowing seed and understanding seed packets.

Fast growing veggies like radishes make excellent spot fillers and companion plants.

A second planting of seed potatoes in late December or early January for harvesting in April.

Seeds can be sown now for the cooler season. Cabbage, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts can be sown now in sowing trays.

Summer Gardening Tools

In Summer you will find the following helpful around the garden:

Hose pipes, Tap fittings, Sprinklers, Hose Holders and Trolleys, Nozzles and sprayers, Fruit picker, Tool gift sets.

As supporting products:  Water computers, Rainwater tanks, and moisture meters will make all of your water-related tasks a lot easier.

Find these handy items in the Lifestyle Hardware department or at MICA Lifestyle.

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