February is one of the hottest summer months in the garden, and water is still in short supply. Follow this guide for water-saving (and budget-saving) gardening tips, a February planting guide and an introduction to mulching:
Spotlight on: Succulents
Although these plants have a very special set of needs, they’re easy to maintain
once you master the basics. Best of all, they’re affordable and come in many different stunning variations. Follow these simple care guidelines to help yours flourish:
- Succulents require you to water them thoroughly, but rarely (once a week in summer is sufficient).
- They thrive in indirect morning sunlight and afternoon shade.
- There are some species that are easier to care for and are more versatile than others. These include the echeveria, jade plant (Crassula ovata), pig’s ears (Cotyledon orbiculata), aloe and sedum (or stonecrop).
These fleshy friends also make for wonderful presents
. With Valentine’s Day looming, what better way to treat your favourite person than with an everlasting gift that grows?
ON YOUR TO-DO LIST FOR FEBRUARY
Plant & Sow
- Plant woody-stemmed, water-wise herbs such as sage, oregano, rosemary and thyme.
- Sow cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, onions, lettuce, spinach, turnips and beetroot.
- Sow winter-flowering annuals such as marigold, chrysanthemum, larkspur, bokbaaivygie, lupin, stocks, nemesia, Iceland poppy, viola and pansy.
- Plant winter-flowering bulbs such as gladiolus, Cape cowslip (Lachenalia mathewsii) and forest lily (Veltheimia bracteata).
Prune & Trim
- Feed deciduous fruit trees like apple, apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach, pear, plum and quince with 2kg of 2:3:2 each.
- Feed lilies with a tablespoon of 3:1:5 dissolved in 5 litres of water. Mulch well.
- Treat yellowing leaves on azaleas and camellias with iron chelate and feed each bush with a tablespoon of Epsom salts. Keep well mulched.
- Feed dahlias with multifeed or bulb food, and remove any faded flowers.
- Feed roses with 8:1:5 and mulch.
OTHER FRESH IDEAS
Grow your own: Beetroot
- Prune summer-flowering plants such as pelargoniums, lavender, abelia, weigela, hydrangeas, heliotrope and salvia.
- Cut back petunias to encourage new growth in late autumn.
- Prune all evergreen trees, except those that bear flowers and berries in spring.
- Divide and replant easy-to-grow groundcovers and perennials such as agapanthus, wild iris, red-hot pokers, hen-and-chickens, daylilies, alstroemerias, asters and watsonia.
If you’re looking for vegetables to plant in February, beetroot should be your go-to: it is one of those wonderful varieties that grows easily, looks attractive and has a long list of health benefits. Depending on variety, beetroot is fairly drought-tolerant and grows best in partial or full sun. If you’re finding they need more water in the initial stages, use your shower bucket of water to keep them going. Find more beetroot-growing tips here
Herb of the month: Oregano
Oregano’s pungent, zesty flavour is the star player in many Italian, Greek and Mexican dishes, and should definitely be on your list of things to sow in February. It’s a hardy herb that loves the sun and well-draining soil, and makes for good ground cover if pinched and trimmed regularly.
Mulch your garden
Mulching is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to save water
in your garden and comes in both organic and inorganic forms. Organic mulch, such as compost, pine needles, grass clippings, bark chips, straw, peat and leaves, is derived from plant or animal sources and is considered the best because it provides the soil with nutrients as it slowly breaks down. Inorganic mulch, like stones and gravel, doesn’t break down, but acts as a physical barrier that helps keep moisture in the soil.
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