The summer garden is in full production. Fruiting vegetables, like pregnant women, need good nutrition and water. But in the rest of the garden, it’s not the time for new plantings- wait until autumn when the cooler, damper weather helps them establish roots.
Using drinking quality water on lawns is somewhat insane. Let the grass grow a bit longer over summer, rather than scalping it, as it helps shade the roots and keeps the lawn greener. Don’t fret if lawns do brown off, they will bounce back once the rain returns. And have you ever noticed how grass stays greener in the shade? Think about planting deciduous trees around your lawn for summer shade – they’re lovely to sit under too.
Water on Fridays: This sounds daft, but you can help keep your rates down by watering the garden on a Friday. It’s those peak, weekend spikes in water usage that trigger summer water restrictions. So, if at all possible, water the garden on Fridays and spend the weekend doing something else.
Notice which plants are doing well: Fill your garden with drought-resistant plants and you’ll never need to worry about them. Good candidates include Mediterranean herbs like lavender or rosemary, Australians such as grevillea and bottlebrush, or African aloes and proteas. Take stock of your garden, noting any changes you want to make in autumn.
January in the garden:
- Summer prune: Take the tips out of fig trees, and cut grape vines back to just a leaf or two beyond the last bunch of fruit. Cut back excessive leafy growth on fruit trees. Stonefruit can get a heavier prune straight after fruiting
- Berries and fruitsmay need protection from birds. Use netting, or try hanging up old CDs (or Christmas decorations).
- Lettuce, coriander and salad greens need shade at this time of year, if they’re not to dry out and bolt.
- Pile up grass and weeds for compost. Water, and cover to keep damp. Even if you never get around to turning it, you’ll have some ready for next spring.
- Add liquid feed to your watering can for great crops, especially for plants that are fruiting.
- Keep filling gaps with basil, lettuce and bush beans, or leeks and fennel for winter. If growing from seed, start sowing winter vegetables like broccolli.
- Late plantings of beans, basil and zucchini.
- If growing from seed, start sowing winter vegetables like broccolli.
- Get leeks in the ground as soon as possible if you want a good crop over winter.
- Tomato care: Weekly, on a dry breezy day,tie in new shoots and pinch out unwanted shoots. Lower leaves can be removed once they start to turn yellow, allowing more light on to the fruit. Find out more about tomatoes here
- Pest patrol: Shield bugs are hatching as the weather warms; juveniles look like tiny ladybirds, black with white spots, much easier to see than the mature green form. Hunt them with a pot of water. Shake or poke the plant and they will drop into the water held below. White butterflies are also out and about so keep brassica seedlings under netting.
Plant out: Zucchini, beans, corn, lettuce, silver beet, beetroot, pumpkin, squash, red onions, leeks (for winter), basil and other herbs.
Sow seeds: Brassicas and fennel for planting out in March, salad greens, carrots, beetroot, radish, beans, silver beet, phacelia, zinnia, sunflowers.