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Ready - Steady - Garden!

The work done in the garden over the next few weeks will ensure a lush garden that revives sooner than the rest and you will reap the rewards through the summer of having done all the preparation. The spring cleanout in the garden also allows for more light and sun to get to the soil which will warm up and so to wake up the beneficial Earthworms and get them to do the work nature intended aerating and turning the soil.

Hedgehogs in flower

Spring flowering dwarf Aloe'sThe spring flowering Aloe Hedgehog is a great addition to a Water Wise garden. Well suited as a ground cover, when planted on mass or as a focus plant in containers. The leaves make a small clump only about 20cm high which looks like a back of a Hedgehog, which is how it gets its name. The orange flower spikes stand about 60cm high and are from bud to in flower on the plant for well over a month or two.

When planting an aloe in containers always add a layer of River Sand at the bottom of the container to help with drainage. This acts as a filter so that you only get water running out and not mud, which will cause the soil level to drop and stain your paving or patio. For a soil mix for aloes use one part River Sand and two parts potting soil. Water well once planted and then allow them to dry out totally between watering. Feed once a season with BounceBack or Multifeed Classic.

What’s up in the Food Garden

Late winter is the best time for lettuceLate winter into spring is one of the best times of the year for lettuce. Lettuce does not like too much water on the leaves which is why they grow so well this time of the year as there is no extra rain to spoil the leaves. The sunny days and cold weather makes them grow slower and more compact which enhances the flavour.

Grow a patch of mixed lettuce from young seedlings and they will provide fresh leaves for the table for a few months, depending on the rain. Lettuce likes a well prepared soil that drains well with plenty of compost and BounceBack as an organic fertiliser. Once established harvest leaves from the sides as perpetual lettuce instead of cutting them down to extend your crop.

Growing lettuce on a patio or balcony in containers is also very rewarding. Plant them with a bit of space around them to allow them to establish and feed them with Nitrosol every three weeks.

Azaleas

Azaleas flower in clusters on older growthRhododendron known more popularly as Evergreen Azaleas are a must in any garden because of their abundance of flowers!  Very few shrubs flower so profusely that one can hardly see the leaves. In modern gardens they are extremely versatile and suit any style of garden. Plants should preferably not be in full sun.

The best position is morning sun afternoon shade or dappled all day. Deep shade is not recommended as it stretches the leaves and will result in few flowers. Plant in a generous hole and include a handful of 2:3:4 Planting Fertiliser and compost.

Azaleas prefer a slightly acid soil which is achieved by planting with Acid Compost and again applying the acid compost as mulch to help retain moisture will help you grow the best azaleas. Read more on growing Azaleas.

Cape Daisies

Plant some promise with bulbsOsteospurmum are certainly one of the best sellers in SA and with good reason. The indigenous Cape Daisies, Osteospurmum, herald the new season with masses of flowers in a range of colours from white, through shades of pink to deep purple. The Yellow introduced a few years back continues to be popular as will the nearly red that we have seen for the first time this year.

Plant them in full sun in well-drained soil with not too much feeding and keep them slightly on the dry side for the best results. Have a look at some of the different colours that we photographed at Eckards.

Shade garden camellias

Keep flowering plants well wateredThe Camellias are one of my favourite shrubs. Besides the fact that they flower at a time of the year when few other shrubs are in flower they are extremely versatile. Camellias grow in semi-shade to morning sun perfect in small cluster or townhouse gardens and have evergreen glossy leaves.

Use them as a screen or as a solid background shrub. Camellias can also be clipped to shape and give an evergreen structure to the garden or in containers. Camellias have different shaped flowers from single to rosette and even in size they range from small and compact to large opulently flowers. Plant and Mulch them with acid compost and feed them with Colourburst acid plant food.

The tip to grow the best is to keep them well watered when they are in bud and flower. If they dry out during this crucial time the buds turn brown and fall off.

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