Chase away the winter blues and kickstart Spring!
August may be windy and miserably cold, but it is also the time to banish the winter blues. And the best way to accomplish that, is to spend time in your garden!
Now is the time to start preparing your garden for Spring, whether it is a large or small garden, or even a balcony garden or a few strategically placed pots.
There are, however, a few tasks to perform:
- Divide and replant overcrowded groundcovers and perennial plants like Agapanthus and Clivias now, transplanting them immediately into well-prepared beds. Gently pull apart the actively growing plants from the outside of the clump, choosing only healthy-looking pieces. Mulch the clumps and feed with NutriGreen Gwano Pellets or General Fertilizer.
- Prune back untidy ornamental grasses right to the ground if they do not need dividing.
- Re-pot any overgrown pot plants into slightly larger containers. Use good quality potting soil and add Garden Phosphate to the soil to ensure strong root development.
- Delay pruning your roses until the middle or even the end of August if you live in extremely cold regions. Seal the pruning cuts with a spray mixture of Mycoguard and Sprayfilm 10 to prevent fungal infections. It is so much easier than sealing individual cuts one at a time, especially if you have a lot of rose shrubs!
- In most temperate parts of the country pruning of deciduous fruit trees and grape vines is generally completed in July; but in very cold regions pruning is often delayed until the middle of August.
Fruit trees like peaches, apricots, plums, nectarines, pears and apples will be coming into bloom this month, especially the early varieties, so mulch them with compost and feed with NutriGreen Gwano Pellets – a 100 % organic fertilizer made of composted chicken manure.
It is extremely important to start treating your fruit trees against fruit fly. Alternate Spraykill 5 and Kemprin every 14 days. Remember to spray again in case of rain. Treat until the first fruit start ripening.
Citrus trees should be fed with organic NutriGreen Gwano Pellets or General Fertilizer 2:3:2. If citrus psylla was a problem last season, soil drench with Complete 350 SC for season long protection.
Feed your strawberries with General Fertilizer 2:3:2 and water in well.
- Do not prune your evergreen shrubs until the danger of frost is over. Do not prune spring and early summer flowering plants, rather wait until they have finished blooming before you start pruning. Fertilise all your shrubs and trees with NutriGreen Flower Power or General Purpose Fertilizer 2:3:2 and water it in well.
- Make sure that standard roses and shrubs (lolly pops) as well as young trees are securely staked and supported to prevent wind damage. Do not tie too tightly, allow for some movement.
- Mulching the soil conserves water, so mulch your beds without delay. As the days begin to warm up, you can gradually increase watering of your garden.
- Work enough compost and NutriGreen Gwano Pellets into the beds before planting or sowing. Beds with existing shrubs can also be fed with Gwano Pellets to give them a boost after the winter.
- Plants also require trace elements, also known as micro elements, such as Iron (Fe), Magnesium (Mn), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), and Barium (B) in small amounts. Foliar feed with organically certified Potek Guanoflo. It not only contains fertilizing elements but also essential bacteria necessary for plants to grow.
- Feed seedlings and flowering plants with NutriGreen Flower Power and pick the first flowers from your sweet peas. Keep picking the flowers of sweet peas, iceland poppies and namaqualand daisies to ensure an abundance of colour. August is a great time to plant spring and summer annuals like pansies, petunias, begonias, alyssums, dianthus, geraniums, marigolds, zinnias and many more. Vygies, osteospermums, nemesias, diascias and gazanias are indigenous plants suitable for our environment that save water, are fast growers and offer heaps of colour. You can also plant other perennials and shrubs in August like daisy bushes, lavenders or Cuphea, an underappreciated, low-maintenance annual that blooms from late spring.
- Summer-flowering bulbs like amaryllis, begonia, gladioli and dahlia bulbs should now be available at your favourite nursery. Buy them as soon as they are available to avoid disappointment and store them in a cool place until planting time in September. Check all your bulbs for early signs of the dreaded lily borer, especially your clivias, agapanthus and amaryllis. Clusters of tiny eggs underneath the leaves will develop into zebra-striped caterpillars. They will start eating the leaves, working their way right down to the heart of bulbs. Spray regularly with Knox Worm before they destroy your much-loved plants. Feed bulbs with a fertilizer rich in Potassium (K) such as Rose and Flower Fertilizer 8: 1: 5 or NutriGreen Flower Power.
- Summer vegetables can only be sown directly into garden beds when all danger of frost is over and soil temperatures are warm. If you have a seed germinator tray, or if you live in less frosty regions you can start sowing early summer vegetables like maize; cucumbers; eggplants; peppers and tomatoes; pumpkin, squash, cabbage, lettuce, runner and bush beans; beetroot, parsnips, rhubarb, radish, Swiss chard, turnips, carrots, melons, Cape gooseberries and many more.Vegetables must grow quickly for optimal flavour and quality, so prepare the beds well. Dig over the bed, adding lots of compost and Garden Phosphate and NutriGreen Gwano Pellets. Rake the bed level, water well and allow the bed to lie for at least 2 weeks before sowing seed. The perfect soil for growing vegetables is a loose, crumbly, well-drained soil that retains moisture and nutrients.
- Prepare a herb garden for summer, preferably as close to the kitchen as possible, or alternatively, plant them between the rows of the vegetable garden. Grow fast-maturing annual herbs like rocket, caraway, dill, fennel and others like borage, chervil, coriander and basil.
- Feed and mulch around strawberries, granadillas, loganberries, raspberries, boysenberries and grapevines.
- This is also the ideal time to sow evergreen lawn seed before it gets too hot. Pro Lawn All Seasons Grass Mix is evergreen, frost-resistant and can be sown in the shady spots in your garden as well as in full sun. Do not scarify cool-season lawns like Pro Lawn.
- Do not scarify and fertilize your established lawn until the danger of frost is over to avoid burning of grass blades. If your kikuyu has a thick matt build-up, scarify the lawn. To remove the thick top growth, set the mover on the lowest setting. Water your lawn well and leave for two to three hours before aerating it by digging a garden fork into the ground as deep as possible, moving the fork forwards and backwards. To stimulate root and new growth, spread General Fertilizer 2:3:2 or NutriGreen Gwano Pellets (both are high in phosphates) over the whole lawn, top dress lightly with lawn dressing and then water well.
- Clear the garden of weeds. Make sure that they do not get worked back into your pots and garden beds when loosening the soil as this will lead to a spread and worsening of the problem. In a case where the beds are already planted with perennial shrubs, the weeds should be removed carefully with root and all. If the beds have been barren throughout the winter, you can clear the beds of weeds using Clear All or Clear Pave. Apply Clear All or Clear Pave on weeds growing between the cracks of paving. For longer control, use Two Step SC, a systemic and residual herbicide for pre- and post-emergence control of a wide spectrum of annual and perennial broadleaf weeds and grasses. Two Step has a long residual action and can control weeds up to 6 months which makes it ideal for fences, curbs, etc. Since weeds are now thriving on your lawn, treat your lawn with a selective broadleaf herbicide such as Versus or Pure Lawn that controls weeds without killing the lawn. Alternatively try the convenient, ready-to-use Scatterkill for Weeds which is a selective granular herbicide that controls a wide range of broadleaf weeds on lawns without killing the lawn.
- Be on the look-out for insects. Harvester termites and mole crickets on your lawn are common after winter. Harvester termites can be treated with Termite Stop, a convenient, ready-to-use granular bait, and if you spot a mole crickets, you can treat the lawn with Imidor systemic insecticide. Continue to treat your conifers against the dreaded Italian cypress aphid, by seasonally applying Imidor systemic insecticide as a soil drench.