After a busy year, there is nothing better than relaxing with friends and family during the holidays. Allow guests to appreciate your garden this summer, whilst you bask in the sun and enjoy the braai.

What to Sow

Carrots are a great idea for the month of December. They flourish in deep, sandy loam or soils with a loose structure.

Take note of these tips when planting your carrots:

  • Sow the seeds directly in the beds
  • Make small furrows, about one 1cm deep and about 20cm apart
  • Sow the seeds about 2cm apart in the furrows
  • Water the beds well after sowing
  • During hot, dry periods cover the rows with a thin layer of grass clippings until the seeds emerge after seven to 14 days
  • Remove the grass and spread thinly between the rows

What to Plant

Barberton Daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) are indigenous to South Africa. They are characterised by their bright colour, including shades of fuscia, orange and white. They are best grown outside, favouring direct sunlight and sandy soil. They grow well in both pots and garden beds and should be fertilised monthly with Bio Ocean from September until March. They serve as excellent patio plants and work well as an indoor plant to brighten up your living space.

Eggplant (Solanum melongena), also known to many as aubergine or brinjal, come in various sizes, shapes and colours. The most common type is the Black Beauty. Other varieties include, The White Star Eggplant, which produces shiny, white fruit that are ideal for use in Italian meals. The Mini Thai Moon Eggplant produces fruit that are white in colour, with a few green strips. They are the ideal complement to Thai and Asian recipes. Eggplants flourish when exposed to full sun and in well-drained, fertile soil.

What to Feed

Lawn fertilisation is essential during the warm December months. Use a nitrogen-rich fertiliser such as Bio Ganic Lawns to support leaf development and remember to water your lawn thoroughly after fertilising.

What to Spray

  • Protect your strawberries from snails and slugs by regularly harvesting the fruit.
  • Spray a non-selective weed killer on all weeds in your paving. Non-selective weed killers have no residual action in the ground and will work through the chlorophyll of the leaves.

What to Pick

You can now enjoy the watermelons and sweet melons that were sowed in August. A large watermelon will feel slightly bumpy once it has ripened.

When sweet melons are ripe, a small crack will appear at the point where the fruit attaches to the vine.

Rose Care

Watering: Continue to water 3 times a week. During dry, hot spells daily watering may be required.

Fertilising: If you are going away during December, you should only fertilise with Flower & Fruit upon your return.

Pest and disease control:   Continue to spray every two weeks to keep black spot, mildew, aphids, beetles and bollworm at bay. Keep a look out for brown chafer beetles which chew away on leaves.

Other tasks: Remove spent flowers and disbud hybrid teas by removing the side buds. This will allow the main bloom to develop into a good quality flower. When picking roses for your home, remove only 50 percent of the blooms. This creates a good balance of leaves on the bush and does not add pressure on the roots.

Blooming Babes

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is also known as the Mexican flame leaf or Christmas star. It is abundant in nurseries and homes in South Africa during the Christmas time period. This common garden plant actually flowers during winter, so don’t be surprised if your poinsettia plant doesn’t flower over Christmas. Potted varieties are specifically grown for the festive season and are available in a range of vibrant colours. Their red foliage is commonly mistaken for a flower but they are actually coloured bracts. The flower is the yellow part in the centre of the bracts. These plants grow well in bright light, which ensures that they maintain the lovely red colour. Ensure that this plant is not exposed to cold winds, droughts or afternoon sun. A covered area or place on a patio will serve as the perfect spot for the poinsettia.

Bedding Besties

Gazanias (Gazania species) produce cheerful blooms with bursts of colour, which are complimented by their dark green foliage. There are also gazanias with silvery foliage, which offer a nice contrast in the garden. They grow easily and flourish in hot, dry weather. They reach a height of about 25cm, and work well in rockeries, containers and in hanging baskets. They require full sun and soil that offers good drainage.

Marigolds (Tagetes) are a treasured annual that bring bursts of yellow to your garden. Another benefit of this low maintenance plant, is that it is typically surrounded by a flight of valuable insects. Marigolds are usually accompanied by butterflies, bees and ladybugs wherever they bloom. They grow abundantly in full sun and well-drained soil. Marigold seeds germinate within the span of a few days, and bloom after 8 weeks. This quick sense of satisfaction makes them a great first-time gardening project for kids or garden newbies. Marigolds are a great addition to your vegetable garden, as they can protect your veggies from predators and pests.

Plants that deter Mosquitos

One tell-tale sign that summer is in full swing is the arrival of Mosquitos. These annoying little guys transmit diseases, buzz around your ear and even suck your blood. A good form of natural mosquito control is to grow certain plants with strong natural fragrances. Grow or place these plants in your entertainment and living areas.

Lavender

Lavender has a distinct, soothing fragrance which hinders a mosquito’s ability to smell. It endures many climates and grows beautifully in South African soil.

Citronella Grass

You’ve probably heard of or even used citronella candles before, but little did you know…it’s actually a plant! It produces a strong aroma which masks surrounding scents, preventing mosquitos to be attracted to things close by. You can either plant it in pots or in a garden bed. You can even crush the plant and put it on your skin to fend away the mosquitos.

Lemon Balm

A member of the mint family which has a strong lemon scent when leaves are crushed. Use the crushed leaves on your skin to repel mosquitos.            It can also be used in teas, sauces, and desserts.

Basil

Not only used in yummy, fresh food dishes but it makes a great and easy insect repellent. Crushed or not, it gives off an aroma that mosquitos cannot bear. Keep multiple pots outside.

Marigolds

Marigolds contain Pyrethrum (natural insecticide) which is found in many insect repellents due to its distinctive aroma. Mosquitos and other bugs and insects find it to be repulsive.

Inland Gardening

(Gauteng, Free State, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo)

  • Check and treat your pool for algae growth and clean up the paved surrounds. Check for any loose paving and repair.
  • To avoid blight on tomatoes and mildew on cucumbers, squash and pumpkins, water them early in the morning to allow the leaves time to dry off before nightfall.
  • Give citrus trees their mid-season feed with Bio Ocean.
  • Planting seed potatoes in December and January will produce a harvest in April and May for storing and eating during winter.

Coastal Gardening

(Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal)

  • Weed the garden – after weeding, place a layer of organic mulch over every last inch of soil. Mulching not only saves water and time when you’re busy entertaining family over the festive season, but will also provide a professional and well-cared-for look and will display existing plants to their best advantage.
  • Refresh your garden furniture by giving them a fresh coat of paint. While your paint brush is out, give your garden shed, picket fences and pots a fresh coat too. Make new slipcovers for scatter cushions or treat yourself to some new soft furnishings for your garden.

Summer pests are prevalent now, so keep a watch out and treat with the correct formula.

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