We are in full summer, and your gardens are rich in greens and bright seasonal colour; so enjoy this time of the year. There are however some tasks in the garden necessary to keep each area of the landscape in tip top condition.
The colourful annuals that brighten the beds and containers can be made to extend their bounty by ‘dead-heading’. This is done by removing all the old flowers from the plants; creating more light for the newer buds to open and stopping the annuals in expending extra energy in going to seed. Water regularly if the rains do not continue and feed with a 6.3.4 or 3.1.5 fertilizer every 6 weeks.
Roses will also give you more flushes of flower at this time of the year. Cut back on old blooms, thin unproductive stems and old wood. More light will get to the buds and soon new flowering shoots will emerge. As with your annuals, keep watering regularly and feed using a 3.1.5 or 5.1.5 fertilizer.
The summer heat and humidity are good conditions for the hatching of red spider mite, and one of their favourite breeding grounds is on the rose leaves. Keep a look out for fine webbing and a dusty look to the back of the rose leaves and spray as soon as you see any signs. Catch the pests early to stop an infestation.
The dreaded Amaryllis worm is also active this time of year. Hunt through any bulbous plants such as Clivia, amaryllis, and agapanthus as these crawlies will feed where the food is. Use Knox worm or Koinor as a control spray. On the subject of bulbs, now is a good time to lift and split irises if you have any in the beds.
As for the other garden shrubs, keep these watered regularly and add mulch to the soil to protect shallow roots from the summer heat and to keep moisture where it is best needed; in the root zone. Some shrubs will need some ‘tidy up’ pruning due to vigorous summer growth. This is a good idea as the shrubs then remain compact going into the autumn season.
Keep mowing your lawns on a regular basis. Leaving the grass to get too long at this time of the year leaves the lawns open to several problems. A thick matt of turf protected by a tall covering of green leaves is the perfect, moist and humid environment for the development of the lawn fungus called ‘dollar spot’; a round yellowing patch. A regular cut will open the root area to let this dry out.
Just as harmful, is the intense heat of the sun on exposed grass roots that have been in the shade, under long leaves for many days. A sprinkle of lawn fertilizer on an eight-to-ten-week interval will not go amiss for your lawns.
The vegetable and herb garden is never a disregarded area. The harvest of crops should be in abundance from the work earlier in the season. Leafy varieties such as lettuce, spinach, basil, rocket and celery can still be sown as they will have enough time to grow and yield a harvest before the season turns.
The later ripening stone fruit; peaches, plums and nectarines will need a little more help from you with the pests looking for their share of your harvest. Keep the traps up and maintained. Raspberries and blackberries are still giving some fruit at this time. Any older harvested canes can be cut back to ground level allowing light to penetrate the plant, and with a good feeding of 3.1.5 new canes will be generated.
A new year has begun and the traditional resolutions have been made. Hopefully somewhere in the mix was a resolution to spend more time at home in the garden. This is one resolution you should hold onto. With a few weekly tasks maintenance will be minimal; the garden will remain in excellent condition and those relaxing hours at home, in nature will go a long way in keeping the stresses of the year at bay.