What to do in your Garden this Month
Spring has sprung and you can enjoy all the hard work you put in during winter. But there’s no resting on your laurels for the busy gardener… Here’s what you need to focus on this September.
SPOTLIGHT ON: TREES
Celebrate Arbour Week in September by planting a tree (or lots of trees!) in your garden. To get you inspired, we’ve gathered together some useful hints and advice.
Before your plant :
- Choose a tree that suits your needs: do you want evergreen foliage, shade or a tree that will attract birds to your garden?
- Ask one of our horticulturists for advice on the root system of the tree you want: some trees develop roots that are up to twice as long as their height.
- Buy a tree that is free of any signs of pests or fungal diseases.
- Avoid long, spindly trees. Rather choose a shorter tree with sturdy lower branches: it will be less likely to topple over once you plant it.
- Handle your new tree carefully: don’t pick it up by the trunk and provide some barrier protection when transporting it so that it doesn’t get “wind burn”.
When you plant :
- Dig a square (not round) hole measuring 60cm x 60cm. Square holes encourage the roots to grow sideways.
- Add 2 handfuls of compost, half a cup of bonemeal and half a cup of 2:3:2 fertiliser to the soil.
- Mix the soil well and fill up the hole with water.
- Plant the tree at the same depth as it was in its packaging.
- Firmly press down the soil around the trunk and water well.
ON YOUR TO-DO LIST FOR SEPTEMBER
PLANT & SOW:
- Dahlias thrive in full sun and like soil that is rich in phosphate and potash. Add plenty of compost and well-rotted manure to your soil for best results. After planting, apply a layer of mulch at the base of the plants to reduce water evaporation from the soil. Pinch out small side shoots as the flowers grow to encourage the development of giant blooms. Stake dahlia stems as they grow to protect them from the south-easterly winds that lie ahead in summer.
- Vegetables: climbing beans, beetroot, celery, corn, cucumber, brinjal, lettuce, melons, parsnip, peppers, potatoes, pumpkin, radish, tomato and watermelon.
- Feed roses with 8:1:5 fertiliser to encourage a beautiful flush in October.
- Feed lawns with 2.3.2 (from R44.95) and 4:1:1 fertiliser (from R94.95).
- Feed shrubs and trees with 3:1:5 fertiliser (from R49.95).
- Feed fruit trees with Nitrosol (from R69.95) and 3:1:5 fertiliser (from R49.95).
Parsley is one of the most versatile herbs that you can grow. It adds wonderful flavour to a multitude of dishes and has a host of healing properties. The Ancient Greeks must have known that this humble herb was special – they used parsley wreaths to crown the winners of major sporting events.
Planting tips :
- Parsley is a hardy herb that will fare best in sunny or semi-shady areas of your garden. It can also be grown in pots, provided they are at least 30cm deep.
- Enrich the soil with compost to ensure that it is rich and drains well. Pots should be filled with good quality potting soil.
- Parsley takes a long time to grow from seed, so it’s best to buy seedlings and plant these directly in your garden. By planting a new batch every four months, you’ll ensure a steady supply for your home and kitchen.
- When harvesting parsley, pick the outer leaves which are located closest to the ground. Remove and discard any yellow leaves or flowers and immediately.
- If your entire parsley plant turns yellow chances are good that it’s thirsty or malnourished. Water or feed with a balanced fertiliser to ensure a healthy plant.
- Parsley adds wonderful flavour to soups, fish dishes and potato salads.
- Parsley is an excellent source of vitamin A and C, so it’s a great herb to have on standby when the winter colds and flu arrive.
- Parsley is a natural diuretic, so it’s ideal for relieving bloating after a large meal or to help alleviate some of the symptoms of PMS.
- Parsley really does work as a breath freshener – it’s far better than most breath mints at masking the smell of garlic!
Create your own Water Garden
Creating a water garden requires a little extra effort initially, but once your water garden is established it will require almost no maintenance and it will provide hours of viewing pleasure.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Choose a sunny, relatively flat area to use for your water garden. Ideally, it should be visible from your home, as then you will be able to appreciate the birds that are likely to visit it in search of water to drink and bath in.
- Before you pick up any spades, first mark out your pond with pegs and string. Then view it from a distance from your main viewing site (usually your home) before you start digging.
- If you’ll be digging out your pond by hand, then it’s best to opt for an informal shape. More formal shapes (like squares and rectangles) usually look best if they are built using concrete and bricks.
Organic Pest Busters
Outdoor entertaining is one of the perks of living in sunny South Africa, but we all know how unpleasant it can be when flies or mosquitoes join the party. Here are a few ideas of plants to add to the areas surrounding your outdoor patios and other entertaining areas.
Here are some good organic ingredients to look out for when shopping for pesticides :
- Aromatic plants like mint, chives, basil, buchu, lavender, lemon grass, scented pelargoniums and confetti bush work extra well if they are planted in areas where people will brush against them to release their scent.
- Rape or canola oil is harmless to fish, pets and birds. Spray it on the underside of leaves (especially rose leaves) to smother red spider mite.
- Potassium salts of fatty acids dissolve the shells of small insect pests, such as aphids and white fly. There is no residual effect after 12 hours, so it’s a great choice for vegetable gardens.
Winter Care for your Houseplants!
Everyone needs a little R and R, and for houseplants winter is the time to get it. Daylight is dramatically reduced, the air is dry, and temperatures are cool — not the perfect growing conditions. Follow these tips to keep your houseplants in shape through the winter.
Remember these words: neglect with respect. Simply put, most houseplants don't need as much water during the winter season. Once a week test the moisture level (if the soil is dry at a 2-inch depth the plant needs water). Water thoroughly and allow the water to drain completely. If the plant has a saucer, dump any excess water after an hour or so. Obviously, there are certain plants that prefer being moist at all times. If you don't know what your plants require, do some Googling.
Houseplants, like people, need food to perform, especially when they are actively growing. Spring and summer are necessary feeding months; however during the winter, feeding is not necessary. If you do fertilize, do it sparingly. Dilute the fertilizer by 50 percent or more. Once you see the plant setting new growth (typically in late August or September) you may start feeding again.
Keeping the plants clean
Winter is a great time to do some housecleaning on your plants. Removing accumulated dust and debris helps the plant breathe and to look good. Also, a good cleaning will help wash away unwanted pests. A simple bubble bath by hand is all it takes. Be sure the water is tepid and use a very diluted solution of liquid dishwashing soap and water. Place the plant in a sink and sponge off the leaves with the warm soapy water. Finish by wiping the leaves once more with clean water. You can place larger plants in the shower to sponge off the leaves. Then use the showerhead to rinse the leaves! Allow the plant to drain thoroughly before returning it to its original location.
• Keep houseplants away from cold drafts and vents.
• Watch that foliage doesn't touch windows.
• Many houseplants prefer a humidity level of 40 to 50 percent. Humidifiers are an option for increasing humidity in your home. Contrary to popular belief, misting houseplants does not raise humidity.
• Fill a large saucer with gravel and add water to raise the humidity around the plant. (Be sure the bottom of the pot is not sitting in water.)
• Don't repot in winter. Wait until new growth appears in the spring.