March is nearly upon us and can you believe that we are in the tail end of summer? Fortunately we have water in Gauteng and our gardens have had good rain these past few months. As summer ends there are a few things that need to get sorted now to keep your garden in shape. Here are 5 odd jobs to get sorted to get your garden on.
Look after the bees
As we move into autumn the bees battle to find food. Plant and plan to plant flowers that attract them to your garden. We planted a patch of Cosmos from seed and they have had a field day on that over the past few weeks. For autumn colour plant a spot with Zinnias or let some of your veggies go to seed. As the veggies bolt and flower they attract loads of pollinators. Sow some seeds to help the bees! Sweet peas can be sown now as well as some Primulas and Forget Me Not’s to attract them and other pollinators to your garden for spring. TIP: If you do use insecticides never spray flowers or buds as this destroys them and they are of no use to the pollinators.
The worms are munching the Clivia’s
If you have a bed of Clivia in the shade then chances are that there is some Clivia worm burrowing through them and about to decimate the mother plant. The larvae of a yellow and black butterfly they traditionally were called Amaryllis worm because that’s what they fed on. As the indigenous Clivia are in more abundant supply they are the new target. Before you know it they get inside the leaves and then eat their way down.
What to do – Sometimes it helps to cut out as much of the worm invaded leaf as possible. We recommend a systemic insecticide as a drench to protect the plant from the inside. Use Efekto Plant Protector and drench at least a litre or two per plant of the diluted mixture. You can use the contact insecticide Kemprin but that only works on worms that are not inside the leaf yet. Once protected feed your Clivias with BioOcean to get them back on track.
Deadhead the roses
By deadheading the roses you’ll encourage a full autumn flush. Nip out old and faded blooms now and at the same time give the bushes a bit of a tidy up. Without cutting back to much sort out the shape and clean off any yellow leaves. If you have black spot on the leaves its also a perfect time to spray with some Funginex to clean that up too. Feed with BioFlower for that last boost and final flush.
Add some Mulch
The rain we have had was great for the garden but it also washes away or speeds up the disappearance of compost in the beds. This is certainly the case in my garden. By adding a layer of mulch now you not only help improve the long term organic content of your soil it also helps to encourage earthworms to aerate the soil.
Bagged mulch is an easy way to fill in full beds to go between plants and create the layer. Bagged Mulch is a rough compost which takes a bit longer to break down that regular compost. One can mulch with either compost or bagged mulch especially if you want it to break down and move into the soil.
Bark chips or pebbles are a longer lasting layer of mulch and add a decorative touch to the garden or around your container plants. Living in a water scarce country we should all embrace the culture of mulching our gardens. It retains moisture. Limits run off and improves the soil all round.
A good garden may have some weeds
Late summer sees a spike in the weeds in the garden. By the end of February the effectiveness of herbicides (weed killers) will go down considerably as they work best when weeds are growing fast. With that in mind now is the time for a quick spray to bring them under control. The weeds in the paving which just seem to come from nowhere must go to help tidy the garden. If you have a weed problem on the lawn this is the time of year that they seed so get a head start on next summer by spraying now.
On lawns Hormoban is the only effective option especially for the hardy clover weed that just seems to dominate in our local area. The effectiveness is best if there is at least 5 hours of sun and no rain or watering after application. Depending on what weed you are spraying a second or third application may be required especially if you are trying to rid the lawn of clover.
For paving the most organic way of ridding weeds in paving is by hand or with a kettle of boiling water scorching the leaves. Sometimes one needs a different option but it is personal choice and we sell non-selective weed killers that will kill everything growing in the paving.