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New beginnings

Spring is here, the sun is getting warmer and gardens are showing new signs of life

By Amy Saunders | September 10, 2020 | Gardens

Picture: Unsplash

Spring is the perfect time to look at your garden with fresh eyes, make some changes and plan for the summer months ahead. Here Life is a Garden shares how to make the best of your garden.

Rose Care

From the middle of September, you should pinch prune your Hybrid Tea roses. This encourages new basal growth, green leaves and root development. It spreads out the flowering cycle so that there is an almost continual supply of roses instead of one or two main flushes. Pinch –prune about a third of the shoots. Increase watering to at least twice a week and fertilise fortnightly.

Watch out for aphids, thrips, bollworm and powdery mildew.

To be effective, the spraying of roses for the control of pests and diseases needs to be carried out properly and with the correct understanding of both the pest and the applicable pesticides. One does get a canola oil, based pesticide combined with a systemic action fungicide which is a certified organic option. Visit your local Garden Centre GCA for advice on the best products to use to meet your needs.

Edibles in your Garden

There is something very satisfying about being able to go into your garden and pick something homegrown to use as ingredients in your cooking. The tomato is an almost indispensable part of meal preparation in many South African homes, and it even has its own week…YUP, the 24th to the 30th of September is tomato week.

Low in calories and rich in vitamins A and C, potassium and iron, it deserves to be celebrated.

Don’t worry if you have limited space, as many types of tomato will grow happily in window boxes and containers. Soil preparation is the key – include generous amounts of compost and, because tomatoes flourish in conditions with low nitrogen, high phosphorous and moderate potassium, incorporate a complete fertiliser. It takes about six to eight weeks for a fertilised flower to develop into mature fruit. Depending on the type, the ripe tomato could be yellow, orange or any one of many shades of red. The flavour and nutrient content of tomatoes are best if they are allowed to ripen on the plant.

Blooming Babes

Spring is in the air, and with it, many of our favourite plants are blooming. No South African garden should be without the beautiful blazing orange of a blooming Clivia. Clivia minniata is one of our more famous plants in South Africa and it has managed to find its way into gardens around the globe. Not only do Clivias produce amazing flowers during spring, but they also continuously multiply over time. What’s more, being indigenous, they are used to our extreme South African weather.

Clivias prefer to be planted under evergreen trees or shady areas. They also work great in containers, which enables one to move them around. They dislike the hot afternoon sun which can burn their leaves and should also be sheltered from heavy frosts. A soil with adequate drainage and loads of organic matter topped off with a layer of mulch is preferable. To get the best out of your Clivias feed them before and after flowering with a fertiliser for flowering plants such as 3:1:5.

Potted Gardens

Colourful flowers in pots are an ideal way to brighten up any area in your garden, patio or balcony. September’s potted garden top picks are: Roses, Marigolds, Impatiens and Begonias. All you need is the right location and enough room for a large container, and you will be able to transform your area into a fragrant retreat glowing with colour.

Get Weeding

Weed regularly before it gets out of hand. Treat weeds on paving, pathways and in gravelled areas with a non-selective herbicide.

Get Pruning

Now is an excellent time to prune your Hibiscus, Poinsettia and other winter-flowering shrubs. Pruning your Hibiscus will help stimulate budding on new shoots. It also rejuvenates the plant after their long winter nap while encouraging them to maintain an attractive appearance and healthy, vigorous growth. The flowers of the Poinsettia have actually modified leaf structures called bracts. Once these have wilted and begun to die off, the Poinsettia requires a thorough pruning. Poinsettias may also require some trimming throughout the growing season to remain full and healthy.

Plan new beginnings for your garden this summer. For more gardening tips and information, visit www.lifeisagarden.co.za or join the conversation on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lifeisagardensa .