By the time October comes, the much-loved South African summer is well underway, and while it is getting warmer, there is a lot to do in the garden to get it looking its best for the season that lies ahead. Here is a list of things you can look at doing in the garden during October:
Look at spreading a generous layer of compost throughout the garden as well as areas where new planting will be done. Compost acts as a soil conditioner as well as mulch, ensuring a nourishing, moist, weed-free environment to grow happy, healthy plants.
The Days are (slowly) heating up and the rain should start soon. Good for the plants, yes, but equally good for weeds. Weed your garden regularly before the weeds have a chance to take over or go into seed. Mulch as much as possible; it not only keeps the soil moist and cool, but also keeps those pesky weeds at bay.
Keep a lookout for slugs and snails. Spread and organic snail bait or put out snail traps around and under plants in the early evening.
Looking after your lawn:
If you have laid down lawn dressing during the early spring months, your lawn should be looking green and lush by the time October arrives.
To cater for the warmer weather, let your lawn grow a little longer, as the length will help shade the roots and this will reduce the amount of water it will require. If the new growth has a yellow tinge, then fertilise it with some 5:1:5 and water well after fertilising.
If you need a new lawn, look at doing it with instant lawn sods, but do not take short cuts with soil preparation. Dig the area over to remove all weeds and stones. Add copious amounts of compost and bone meal and rake until smooth and level. Water the soil lightly before laying the sods tightly together, filling any cracks with fine compost or commercial lawn dressing.
Adding a bit of colour:
To ensure that your summer garden is full of flowers and bursts of colour – now is the time to sow seeds and plant seedlings. Easy flowers to grow from seeds include alyssum, asters, celosia, cosmos, lobelia marigolds, nasturtiums, zinnias and sunflowers.
Summer seedlings to plant now include impatiens, begonias, bedding dahlias, dianthus, gazanias, petunias, salvias and verbena. Also, to keep your summer-flowering shrubs such as hydrangeas, hibiscus and fuchsias in good form, it is a good time to fertilise them now with 3:1:5 or 5:1:5 fertiliser. Be sure to prune back any spring-flowering shrubs that have faded, and you can also fertilise these, such as camellias and azaleas, with 5:1:5 to keep them looking at their best.
You can also look at buying tall annuals like aquilegia, campanula, and delphinium in colour pots to fill up bare spots in mixed beds. Border your flower beds spectacularly with Carex ‘Evergold’ a clump-forming ornamental grass with narrow yellow and white, green-edged leaves.
Petunias are insanely popular as a summer bedding plants, but can it be planted in the same place every season? The answer is no! It is better to rotate certain annuals to prevent the build up of dominating pests or soil pathogens.
Delicious summer vegies:
Look at trying out different chilli varieties they are always fun to grow! Plant all the mints for cooling summer cordials. As mints can be invasive, rather plant them in pots. You can sink them pot and all, into the soil as the mint will not mind being kept prisoner.
This is the perfect time to sow seeds of summer vegetables into prepared beds, such as carrots, beetroots, beans, pumpkin, marrows, cucumbers, rocket and radishes for example.
For tomatoes, eggplant, chillies, green peppers and lettuce – it is easier to sow the seeds into seed trays and wait until they germinate before you plant them into the beddings, or even simpler, buy already grown seedlings from your local Tuingenoot nursery. Putting a thin layer of straw over the sown seeds will help prevent the beds from drying out in the warm weather.
Herbs for the whole family: This is a good time to plant annual herbs such as mint, sweet basil, coriander, dill and oregano. You can also look at planting herbs that your pets will love, such as pet grass, catnip and borage. To keep the herbs growing well, pick them regularly and feed them twice a month with a liquid fertiliser at half the recommended strength.
Rose-coloured glasses: It is during October when your roses should be putting on a marvellous display! It is wonderful to decorate your home with roses that we have picked from our own gardens, however, remember as long as they go straight into a vase of cold water, and also remember not to pick more than 50% of the flowers off any particular rose plant as this will seriously set the plant back, and can cause root shock.
For those that don’t mind watching and having nature take care of itself, No major fuss needs to be put over the aphids that are on your roses in the beginning – they are not harmful to your roses and provide great food for ladybirds and birds alike. Water your roses at least twice a week in the warm weather.