With summer gradually coming to an end, it’s time to start getting excited about the new season ahead and what it might bring: our first rains (holding thumbs for these!), an exquisite autumn colour palette, and a chance to start thinking about where to plant those spring-flowering bulbs.
SPOTLIGHT ON: INDIGENOUS
As National Water Week rolls out from the 13th– 19th March, we’re reminded once again how critical it is for us all to conserve our precious water resources. Indigenous gardens fare well with much less water, and March is one of the best times to establish a fynbos garden. By the time summer arrives, it’ll be well established and ready to endure the heat.
Indigenous veld bulbs like freesias, tritonias, ixias and babianas are exquisite flowering beauties that naturalise very well in gardens. If you’d like to get your hands on some, best keep an eye out for them now, and get ready to plant them after the first rains.
ON YOUR TO-DO LIST FOR MARCH
Plant and sow:
- Sow these veggies in preparation for hearty winter broths: cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, onions, Swiss chard, spinach, celery, leeks, endives, parsnips, turnips and beetroot.
- Plant leafy herbs like chives, sorrel, rocket, watercress, basil, dill, parsley and chicory.
- Sow or plant flowering seedlings like poppies, stocks, linaria, nemesia, viola, calendula, snapdragons, cornflowers, foxgloves, lupins, dianthus, nasturtiums, asters, larkspurs and pansies.
- Plant fynbos like proteas, ericas, pincushions, buchus and restios after the first autumn rains.
- Stock up on spring-flowering bulbs so long, but best to wait until April, when it is a little cooler, before planting them.
- Feed citrus trees with 3:1:5 to encourage fruit development.
- Deadhead roses and feed with a handful of rose food each to encourage another flush of flowers.
- Keep azaleas and camellias well-mulched and watered as best as possible within our very dry circumstances (grey water is a very viable alternative water source). Treat yellow foliage with iron chelate and feed each bush with a tablespoon of Epsom salts.
- Stock up on general fertiliser for the whole garden. Wait until the first autumn rains and then give your entire garden a good feed.
Prune and divide:
- Prune summer-flowering plants like pelargoniums, lavender, abelia, weigela, daisies, heliotrope and salvia.
- Prune all evergreen trees, except those that bear flowers and berries in spring.
- Divide and replant agapanthus, irises, daylilies and arum lilies.
OTHER FRESH IDEAS
Grow your own: Bright Lights
Bright lights spinach is a ‘fool-proof’ option for beginner veggie gardeners. It’s easy to grow, loves full sun but will tolerate shade, and creates a marvellous eruption of pink, yellow and green in your garden! Leaves can be used in salads, and stems work well as an asparagus substitute.
Herb of the month: Sage
Sage is a pretty, aromatic herb with a delicious aromatic flavour and a host of healing properties. Good to know:
- It grows best in full sun in well-draining, sandy soil. If you have clay soil in your garden, then it’s best to plant sage in a pot on a sunny patio.
- It is a hardy plant that doesn’t respond well to being watered too often.
- It grows to a height of approximately 30cm and has grey, velvety leaves and delicate, blue flowers in spring.
- It’s an excellent companion plant for strawberries, carrots and cabbage.
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