Gardens are a never-ending source of delight, and it’s one of life’s genuine pleasures to watch a garden grow and respond to the changing seasons, from buds to leaves to fruit to fall, and then the whole cycle beginning again. Not to mention the birds and butterflies that a well-tended garden attracts.
Summer time, and the gardening is easy! Well, it can be if you follow the tips in our latest blog. You’ll find loads of information on preparing for a spectacular display of blooms, controlling insects without harming the environment, and most importantly, how to be a waterwise gardener.
Pretty as a picture
If your winter garden is a little low on flower power, pansies could just be the answer. You’ll find a great selection of these winter-flowering bedding plants in stock at the Keith Kirsten Garden Centre at Waterfall Wilds – all you have to do is choose which colour (or colours) you’d like to brighten up your pots and beds.
The popularity of pansies is easy to explain – they’re laid-back enough to do well just about anywhere, including hanging baskets (just don’t bump your head) and still work hard to make us smile with flowers in every hue from pink to blue.
Just like most gardeners, pansies enjoy as much winter sunlight as possible – and the same goes for compost. A good tip is to plant your pansies to the same depth as they were in the trays when you bought them.
Be careful not to overwater your pansies, as their roots can rot in waterlogged soil. Most of all, make time to wrap up warm and get outside to enjoy the colour and cheerfulness they bring on even the bleakest of midwinter days. Trust us, there’s nothing on TV that’s nearly as uplifting as seeing a bed of pansies bursting with glorious colour. Especially as there are relatively few other flowers to enjoy right now.
No, we’re not advocating your kids bunking off school! Rather, we wanted to give you some advice on pruning in June. At first glance, winter may seem an odd time to prune, but there are some good reasons why you should. Just don’t forget to wear gloves!
If you have plants that produced dense growth during summer, this could be working to their disadvantage now. Really thick growth means that light and water won’t be able to penetrate to all parts of your plants. Judicious pruning lets the light in, and also allows air to circulate around the plant. That’s important because reduced airflow can lead to fungal infections.
You’ll soon get the hang of identifying what to snip. If your shrubs have long, spindly branches, then they might prevent them growing new shoots in the spring. Cut off these old branches, however and you’re basically guaranteeing that your shrub will produce new, stronger branches and shoots in the spring. This won’t happen however on shrubs that are still devoting energy to old branches.
It goes without saying that dead or diseased branches should be pruned – this will give you healthier plants, and also ensure your garden looks neat and tidy, and that your favourite views aren’t blocked off by dead growth.
There are many reasons to love winter in Gauteng: those crisp mornings and being up before the sun to enjoy watching it rise and light up the world; incredible night-time displays of stars and perhaps best of all, the stunning blue skies.
Yes, you’ve guessed it – we’re encouraging you to get out there and enjoy your garden, even if it is winter. Don’t be a fair-weather gardener; be a man (or woman) for all seasons, and enjoy this sadly underrated gift of a season. If you need some motivation to leave the warmth of the fire and head outside, we’ve put together a short ‘to-do’ list of winter garden tasks. Once you’ve done them, you can go inside and put your feet up knowing that you’ve done the best you can to help your plants make it through winter. And you’ll have received a welcome dose of vitamin D from the rays of the winter sun!
While growth rates may be slower in winter, it’s very much the right time to plant cool season bedding plants like alyssum, calendula, dianthus, lobelia, nemesia and pansies (as well as their smaller cousins, violas).
You can also sow broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and ornamental kale in your winter veggie patch – more on that just now. If you have lemon trees (and why wouldn’t you?!) they’ll appreciate being fed during winter, as will your bulbs and spring-flowering seedlings. They’ll thanking you by making your garden beautiful in a few months’ time.
Few things are better at warming your bones than a mug of homemade vegetable soup with a chunk of warm bread, fresh from the oven. And the effect is doubled with this important added ingredient: the satisfaction of knowing the vegetables in your broth were grown organically in your own garden.
To improve the yield of your veggie garden – and the flavour of your soup – there are a few basic tips to follow if you want a bumper winter crop. Veggies need light, and that’s in shorter supply during shorter days, so the best place for your veggie plot is in a sunny, north-facing spot. If you can, create a raised bed for your veggies as this will help raise soil temperatures and keep their roots snug.
Compost and mulch are crucial to improve the soil and protect your veggies against frost. Mulch also helps retain moisture, making your vegetable patch more waterwise. Avoid soil exhaustion by rotating what you plant, and avoiding overcrowding.
If you plant every few weeks, you can expect a steady supply of winter veggies so you can experiment with a new soup flavour every week.
Last but not least, you need to keep the cold out while letting the light in. This takes some planning in terms of where you plant taller and shorter plants in relation to each other, and how to create protection – but overcoming these challenges will make that mug of soup taste even better. Trust us!