National Water Week takes place from 17 to 23 March! While you’re getting excited about an exquisite autumn colour palette in your garden and, hopefully, the first autumn rains, now is also the time to plan for water-efficient gardening.
SPOTLIGHT ON: INDIGENOUS
We’re all still doing our bit to conserve our precious water resources and indigenous gardens fare well with much less water. 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 watch the weather so you can plant them after some rain.
ON YOUR TO-DO LIST FOR MARCH
- Now is the perfect time to put down mulch – the soil is still warm and moist from summer temperatures.
- Conserve water by mulching flower beds, and around trees and bushes.
- Apply mulch to new plantings that have germinated to deter weeds.
- 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.
- Disguise eyesores like dead grass by planting rock gardens or adding gravel.
Rethink efficient water use:
- Research rain gardens and start work replanting flora that can tolerate seasonal flooding, such as iris, papyrus, elephant’s ears and river pumpkin.
- Install a water tank to harvest and store water for garden use.
- Redirect gutters and downspouts to soil for rainwater storage.
Plant and sow:
- Plant fynbos like proteas, ericas, pincushions, buchus and restios after the first rain.
- 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, 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.
- Stock up on spring-flowering bulbs, but best wait until April when it is a little cooler before planting them.
- Stock up on general fertiliser for the whole garden. Wait until the first rain and then give your entire garden a good feed.
- 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.
Herb of the month: Sage
Sage is a pretty, aromatic herb with a delicious flavour and a host of healing properties. Good to know:
- Sage grows best in full sun in well-draining, sandy soil. If you have clay soil in your garden, then it’s best to plant it 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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