Whether you’re staying at home or going away, it’s time to prepare your garden for the festive season!
Seed: Sow seed of biennials like Delphinium, Columbine, Foxgloves, etc, for flowering in early summer of the following year. Sow successive planting of warm-weather and Salad Vegetables. Sow early Cauliflowers. These quick-growing summer-flowering annuals can be sown now: Alyssum, Dahlia (bedding), Dwarf marigold, Eschscholtzia californica (Californian poppy), Iberis umbellata, (candytuft), Portulaca, Tagetes, Nasturtium.
Plants: Pinch back Chrysanthemums. Divide overcrowded Irises and replant in well prepared beds in another position if possible. Lift spring-flowering bulbs when foliage has ripened, dry and store. Transplant evergreen shrubs during rainy weather. Summer flowering bulbs should be watered at least once a week. Never let them dry out. Amaryllis make perfect pot-plants too. Keep the soil around Liliums well-mulched to keep the roots cool and feed once a month with a liquid fertilizer. Tie the growing stems to firm stakes. Cannas should be fed once a month. Scatter one tablespoon of 2:3:2 around each clump. Water deeply once a week. Feed Dahlias once a month with a liquid fertilizer. Stake the plants as they grow. Acid-loving hydrangeas, gardenias and fuchsias are at their best now. If not, feed the plants with an acidic foliar feed and mulch around the base with bark chips.
Lawns: Feed your lawn every 4 to 6 weeks with 3:2:1(28)(SR), a slow-release fertilizer that wont burn the lawn. Mow at least once a week. Twice is better! Change the direction in which you mow often to prevent ridges and uneven growth. Water in the early morning so that it can dry out by the evening. Also check that your irrigation system is working perfectly and covering all of your beds.
Vegetables: Water regularly and feed once a month with a liquid fertilizer. Plant new batches once a month for a continuous supply. Many vegetables can be sown now. Ask your nursery for advise, or read the seed packets when you visit the nursary.
Watering: Water garden thoroughly if good rains do not fall after five days. Water annuals and perennials two or three times a week.
Pests and Disease: Continue to spray susceptible plants with fungicides. If you have Amaryllis planted in the garden, watch out for the amaryllis caterpillar (lily borer). Use Karbaspray or similar, but only spray the affected plants. Continue spray programmes for special pests. Hose down Dahlia foliage to discourage red spider. Spray fruit trees when the fruit is still small and green to prevent damage by fruit flies.Mulch your garden! Mulching also has the added benefit of reducing water loss from the soil. Mulching maintains soil temperatures and reduces weed growth as well. A definite win all around!