The new year is the perfect time to get your green fingers busy beautifying your summer garden. Our gardening guide lets you in on what to plant in January and includes summer gardening tips for sowing your own herb and vegetable seeds, planting heat-tolerant annuals and feeding your lemon trees for a good harvest come winter.
Spotlight on: Ericas
There are about 50 species of ericas
, a Cape fynbos plant that thrives in Western Cape gardens. They come in a variety of colours and their beautiful, bell-shaped flowers make pretty fillers in flower arrangements. Conveniently, these beauties bloom with very little fuss. Here are some tips for growing them successfully:
ON YOUR TO-DO LIST FOR JANUARY
Plant & Sow
- Ericas love free-draining soil, so it’s best to grow them in soil mixed with a layer of gravel.
- They grow well under sunny skies.
- Once planted, they should not be moved as their fibrous roots are easily damaged.
- They prefer slightly acidic soil, so a helpful tip is to mulch the soil around them with pine needles, wood chips or used coffee grounds.
- Pruning ericas right after flowering will encourage a bushier growth.
- Sow herbs like basil, dill, nasturtiums, parsley and watercress in well-draining soil in containers. Pro tip: Keep the soil moist (with some grey water, of course) until the first shoots appear. Pinch out new growth on seedlings to encourage them to become compact and bushy. The more you trim your herbs, the more flavourful they become. Place them in a spot that receives at least 5-6 hours of sun.
- Plant heat-tolerant annuals like alyssum, celosia, sunflowers, marigolds, petunias, portulaca, red salvias and zinnias.
- Sow summer vegetables such as artichokes, beans, beetroot, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, squash and turnips.
Prune & Trim
- Feed lemon trees with 3:1:5 or 8:1:5 (an organic fertiliser) and water them well. Surround the trees with a thick layer of organic mulch.
- Fertilise fuschias with an organic potassium fertiliser such as a 3:1:5.
OTHER FRESH IDEAS
Grow your own: Cabbage
- Lightly prune roses to encourage new flowers. Snap off any suckers (light green, thornless shoots) growing from the base of the bushes.
- Remove some of the smaller flowerheads on dahlias to encourage development of bigger blooms (we’re talking dinner-plate size!).
- Use grass and plant clippings (from pruning) as mulch in your garden beds.
- Stake tall-growing perennials and trees to protect them against the infamous Cape Doctor winds.
- Remember to pull up any weeds before they go to seed and cause more problems in the garden. Weeds rob your plants of valuable water and nutrients, so right now couldn’t be a better time to get rid of them.
- Spray driveways and paving with a non-selective weed killer like Clear Pave.
is a vegetable-patch staple that can be grown at different times of the year, depending on the variety. It’s low maintenance, with a harvesting time of 11–15 weeks, and is a go-to addition for plenty of summer meals: salads, slaws, stir fries – you name it.
Herb of the month: Chives
are perfect herbs to add to your summer garden – not only is the subtle onion flavour great for any dish, but they have beautiful flowers, too! The bonus is that they are hardy, drought-tolerant, and one of the easiest herbs to grow.
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