A hot and handsome February

The heat is on this Feb and that means three things for the summer gardener:

  1. Mulch-up to the max
  2. Smart water-wise gardening 
  3. Exciting heat-loving plants to grow 

Life is a Garden has all you need to help you beat the heat and ensure your beloved plant children not only survive, but thrive in our African summer sun. Take care of your lawn, feed and spray, sow and grow, and keep your containers hydrated. 

What’s so magical about mulch? Leaves bark chips, macadamia shells, compost, and pebbles are all considered mulch. The magic of mulch is that it keeps the soil and plants’ roots cool, thereby decreasing evaporation and increasing water retention. That’s less water consumption for the Earth and less time spent on watering for you! #winwin

 

Sexy veggies 

To sow: Spinach, globe artichokes, parsley, carrots, radish, cauliflower, celery, cabbage, oriental vegetables, sweet basil, coriander, nasturtium, and flat-leaf parsley. 

To plant: Bush beans, onions, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beetroot, and Swiss chard.

To tend to: Remove summer vegetables that are coming to the end of their productive cycle to make space for the next seasonal harvest. Add compost to veggie beds and make sure your soil is nice and loose, and reloaded with nutrition. 

To prep:  It’s time to prepare beds for winter and spring crops. Plant your first crop of seed potatoes for an early winter harvest.

To remember: Don’t forget about companion planting as your secret pest and pollination weapon. Increase your crop yield and utilise the bad-bug-repelling power of flowers. Learn more here.

Radish
Flirtatious flowers

Primetime babes: Bougainvilleas, hemerocallis (daylilies), variegated and green foliage plants are showing off their charm this month. Yours may need some TLC if they’re not popping by now.  

Sweetheart sowing: Amazingly fragrant and fuss-free sweet peas are ready to be sown from seed packets available for your nursery.  Try bush varieties sown in pots and hanging baskets for extra specialness around the stoep and patio. Soak sweet pea seeds in water overnight before sowing for better germination. 

A pretty tip: Although petunias are a firm favourite, they should not be planted twice in the same spot to prevent soil-borne diseases.

The hottest of the lot: Orange hermannia (Hermannia pinnata), marigolds, wild rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus), and Honeybells (Freylinia lanceolata) are heat-lovin’ plants that will thrive in Feb.

Sassy seedling trays: Sow cinerarias, gazanias, Iceland poppies, primulas, violas, pansies, larkspurs, Canterbury bells, columbines, sweet Williams and aquilegias now.

 

Water-wise tips for the lawn
  • Raise the height of your mower blades to about 5cm. Longer grass helps to shade the soil and keep the roots cool. 
  • Water in the evening so that your lawn can benefit from all the water without competing with evaporation, UV rays or wind. 
  • Water deeply (about 15 minutes per sprinkler setting) twice a week rather than watering for frequent  shorter periods. Deep watering encourages the development of strong, healthy roots.

Top water-wise tip: Check the weather report gardeners! You can very easily save time and water by planning your weekly watering in accordance with your areas natural rainfall. 

Be the BEST: Remember to get the buckets and collection containers out during the rain. All the water we have is already on Earth! Conserving as much as we can is essential in playing our part as conscious gardeners. Use your collected rain water instead of the hose pipe to give your pots and beds a drink during this scorcher of a month.  

 

Smart spraying and feeding 
  • Check for red spiders on roses, usually found on the underside of the leaf. Your nursery attendant will be able to recommend the right product for the job. Remember to take photos of pests to assist in the correct identification and control solution. 
  • Feed containers and hanging baskets fortnightly with a lekker liquid fertiliser available from your GCA Garden Centre. 

 

Blazing terracotta pots

Before planting, soak your terracotta pot overnight to saturate the clay and prevent it from stealing moisture from new plants. Place a paper coffee filter inside to avoid losing soil during watering. Heavier pots with thicker walls will last longer and handle frost better too.

 

 

Eco-warrior: The brave Braconid Wasp

Did you know? Wasps are pollinators too, although not as efficient as our fuzzy-legged bees that are able to collect more of the good stuff. However, one particular miniature wasp, the braconid, is the tomato gardener’s best friend. This bad boy loves feasting on the tomato hornworm, a well-known destructive pest.

The braconid wasp very cleverly lays its eggs in a living host, such as the hornworm, thereby ensuring a lifecycle of nutrition. The braconid will entirely consume its host as it progresses through the pupa, cocoon, and adult phases of its life.

Let them breed: If you see a hornworm covered in eggs or pupae, leave it alone. This nursery is producing an army of eco-warriors!

 

Enjoy your handsome February garden and never let the weather be too hot for your plants to handle. Remember to mulch up to the max and get water-wise savvy. Life is a Garden, and meant to be enjoyed in the summer!

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