A hot and handsome February February Checklist

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. 

Eco-warrior lacewing

Eco-warrior wall of fame: Lacewings

Dynamite comes in a small package with these extraordinary helpers. They are excellent additions to the garden for pest control and prevention. Adults feed on pollen, nectar, and honeydew, while the larvae are active predators of soft-bodied pests such as aphids, thrips, whitefly, leafhoppers, spider mites and larvae, caterpillars, nymphs, mealybugs and more! After feasting for 2-3 weeks, lacewing larvae spin a cocoon and emerge as adults 10-14 days later. After such a carnivorous upbringing, adults lacewings are converted to veganism, enjoying nectar and helping us by pollinating crops.

Wow-worthy facts

  • Known also as aphid lions or wolves, lacewings can gobble up to 100 nasty aphids in a day.
  • Grey lacewing larvae are super smart oaks! They camouflage by carrying devoured prey carcasses on their backs.
  • Adult lacewings have ears at the base of their wings, allowing them to hear bats’ echolocation signals. They avoid being eaten by closing their wings and appearing smaller.
  • Lacewing larvae kill their prey by injecting lethal digestive juices into their meal, dissolving their insides, and then providing our hero with a nutritious, sappige smoothie – lekker!

 

Welcome lacewings by  
  • Planting indigenous.
  • Offering a variety of pollen and nectar-rich flowers to choose from (suggestions below).
  • Learn how to identify them to avoid accidental harm to these heroes.
  • Providing a safe hibernation home during the winter, such as log piles and dense hedges (check out our Hedge-tech article here for inspiration that’s shearously worth it).
Green Lacewing
Brown Lacewing
Plants for critters that guard the garden

Lacewings, butterflies, birds, bees, and ladybugs will all come to work when adding these sweet additions to the garden now:

  • Wild dagga
  • September bush
  • Pentas lanceolata
  • Star jasmine
  • Flowering hibiscus
  • Nasturtiums are highly recommended to make your garden come alive.
September Bush
Pentas lanceolata
Star Jasmine
Nasturtiums

Eco-Warriors: Love them Lizards Love them Lizards

Eco warrior
Eco-warrior, lizards

Have no fear! Lizards are friends to the garden bringing gifts of goodwill with them. Welcome these eco-warriors into your eco-system and enjoy less pests, more life, and a healthier environment.

Lizards are lovely because…
  • They eat other goggas we don’t really like such as slugs, mozzies and ants.
  • These guys are completely harmless to humans and will not attack you or become a man-eating reptile (incase your nerves are a little fried from watching Godzilla).
  • Some do occasionally munch on leaves, but very small amounts that go unnoticed.
  • They are also food for larger predators such as owls (who we also love, bonus!).
  • Lizards serve as living barometers and are excellent indicators of your garden’s health. Their presence indicates low levels of pollutants, pesticides, and heavy metals in the garden – isn’t that grand!
Eco warrior
Lizard Eco warrior
Attract lizards by…
  • Avoiding chemical pesticides and weed killers – these affect not only lizards, but impact the entire food chain (serious stuff, gardeners).
  • Mulching up your beds to give them an insulated, snug spot to spoon at night.
  • Providing hiding places like big rocks, small rocks, piles of rocks, broken rocks – pretty much rocks in all forms, and bushes too.
  • Speaking of rocks, larger rocks make for the perfect sunbathing beds, as well as any brick or concrete platform.
  • Providing a freshwater source, which they can access, such as a pond or water feature. Better yet, make your own lizard watering hole by placing a bowl near their favourite hot spot (don’t forget to give them a way in and out).

 

Warm up to these reptiles and they’ll reward your garden, gracefully! They are mostly out of sight, busy minding their own business. And lucky for us, their business is bugs.

#LoveThemLizards

Eco warrior
Eco warrior