This is usually the hottest month of the year and gardens will demand constant watering. Some gardens will be at their peak with wonderful displays of annuals and perennials. Attention to the plants this month is important to have the garden looking good.
- Sow late crops of Bok choy, dwarf beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbages, carrots (main crop), cauliflowers, kohl rabi, lettuce, silverbeet, spinach, turnips, parsley.
- Plant succession crops of cabbage and cauliflower.
- Plant out a crop of leeks.
- Water regularly and evenly.
- Clear crops from the area and prepare soil for the next crop. Practice crop rotation. Sow a green manure cover crop if the ground is not going to be used – either mustard, blue lupin, barley or oats.
- Watch for white fly, cabbage white butterfly, earwigs and aphids and spray.
- Harvest mid season potatoes, early carrots and parsnips, corn, early pumpkins, squash and beetroot (for bottling). Pick beans (for freezing and as a fresh vegetable), zuchinis, peppers as they are ready to ensure continued supply.
- Onions and Garlic bulbs should be lifted and dried for curing and should then be stored in a dry well ventilated place.
- The flower garden for summer will be at its peak this month. Enjoy it. Take time out to note the successful plant combinations, plants that need to be shifted, divided and re planted, or removed altogether. Now it is a great time to plan next summer’s garden.
- Prune and deadhead perennials. Cut finished flower spikes back to green foliage to prevent them setting seeds and this encourages the plant to produce nutrients to build up a good rootstock for the next year.
- Now is a good time to take cuttings of most shrubs and perennials in the garden.
- Sow next seasons annuals. Alyssum, Iceland poppies, cornflower, wallflowers, myosotis, calendulas, primula, nemesia, schizanthus, viola.
- Plant – Bulbs especially narcissus, crocus, hyacinths, ranunculus, anemone, freesias, grape hyacinths, irises, fritillarias. As a general rule plant bulbs two times the diameter of the bulb.
- Water outdoor tub plants thoroughly and regularly.
- Provide some shade for the containers on patios etc so they do not heat up and destroy the plant roots.
- Save seed of special plants.
- Some early planted annuals maybe finishing now, eg lobelia and ageratum. Remove these and replace with a new selection of annuals.
- Keep up a regular watering programme.
- Remove some of the bottom leaves from tomatoes.
- Ensure good ventilation and humidity levels.
- Harvest tomatoes for use or turn them into pulp and freeze for winter use.
- Harvest peppers and cucumber for use.
- Harvest main fruit crops as soon as they are ready. Be prepared to eat them fresh or preserve them in jars or in the freezer.
- With early stone fruits undertake summer pruning as soon as the crop is harvested.
- Check fruit trees and fruit bushes for mites. The symptoms are silvering of the upper surface of the leaves. Spray with a miticide or regularly spray the undersides of the leaves with water as mites do not like humid conditions.
- Grapes. Shorten back the strong and excessive growths to allow better management of the vines plus letting more light into the fruit to encourage ripening. Cover with bird netting.
- Citrus. Keep up regular watering and keep well mulched with compost. Pick fruit by cutting back a small part of the branch.
- If contemplating a new lawn spray the old one out with Roundup or similar and prepare the surface for sowing in late March. Do not rotary hoe to deep as you will need to compact all the soil to ensure an even surface.