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Get your garden holiday ready

The end of the year is upon us, and with that comes family time and catching up with friends. Whether you are going away for the holidays or staying at home and entertaining – we suggest you get your garden holiday-ready during November.

For those of you going away that will include ensuring your watering systems are working correctly - and for those planning on staying home, some tidying up and adding of colourful plants, hanging baskets and other décor elements is a great way to make your garden and entertainment area appealing. Visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre for some inspiration and supplies.

What to Sow

To reap the rewards of a bountiful vegetable garden, you need healthy plants. The health of your vegetables at harvest depends largely on the early stages of their life cycle. Planting vegetables at the optimum time will increase yields. Life is a Garden suggest you sow these during November:

  • Radish 
  • Beetroot
  • Peppers

What to Plant

Sun Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides cvs), has brilliant leaves that brighten garden beds, especially when combined with begonias, salvia, and other plants for contrast. These easy-to-grow annuals are available in a wide range of colour, with leaves of many sizes and shapes and do well in full sun to partial shade.

Vinca (Catharanthus roseus) have clear, crisp flowers and glossy green leaves. Annual vinca, occasionally called periwinkle, is drought tolerant and requires almost no maintenance to keep it looking terrific. Use it in mass in beds and borders or tuck it into mixed containers with other annual flowers. They will grow in a range of light conditions, from full sun to shade and come in pink, purple, red, white, magenta, and bi-colours. The flowers are also attractive to butterflies.

What to Feed

Feed winter-flowering hellebores, winter iris (Iris unguicularis), begonias and indigenous daisies like osteospermum; divide and replant those that have outgrown their space. Feed summer bulbs, like cannas, agapanthus, day and Inca lilies and dahlias regularly with Atlantic Bio Ocean.

What to Spray

Mole Crickets usually are very prevalent in your lawn in November. A contact /systemic insecticide drench should be directed toward young nymphs. 

Also Keep an eye out for caterpillars on clivias, which can be treated with a systemic insecticide.

Chat to a specialist at your nearest GCA Garden Centre for advice on the various products available and what would work best for your needs.

What to Prune

Fynbos like buchus, leucospermums, ericas, and proteas can be pruned after flowering. Train your plants from the start to create and maintain a better shape and prevent them from becoming too large and leggy. To do so, nip out the growing tip of young, single-stemmed plants to encourage them to produce side shoots. When these side shoots are 150–200mm long, trim them back again.

For well-formed, bushy plants just cut off flowers for the vase (or after these have faded), leaving four or five leaf nodes on each stem, which should be about 100–150mm long.

Neaten your plants just after the flowers have faded and before they start putting out new growth. Never cut back into old wood or where there are no healthy green leaves.

Rose Care

Watering: Continue to water three times a week or more. Temperatures are rising and if there’s no regular rainfall, make sure your roses receive enough water. Under-watering is one of the main reasons why roses don’t perform well. Fertilising: By mid-November apply Flower & Fruit evenly to pre-soaked soil around the drip line of the plant or tree and water again, well. Keep fertiliser at least 20cm away from the base and avoid contact with foliage or flowers.

Pest and disease control: Spray fortnightly against black spot, mildew, aphids, beetles and bollworm. Keep a lookout for red spider mite on the underside of the lower leaves. At the first indication of speckled leaves, increase watering and spray with the correct insecticide.

Other tasks: Continue deadheading.

Potted Garden

Nothing solves a problem like a pot. If you have no space, the wrong kind of soil in your garden beds or dogs that dig – the solution to all these problems is to have a potted garden. 

Herbs grow incredibly well in pots and having fresh herbs on hand, especially when entertaining is always a win. Imagine how handy it would be when you are serving homemade pizzas, whipping up a salad or offering a refreshing gin to your guests – to be able to wonder over to your potted herb garden and have all the fresh ingredients right there. 

Great herbs to include in your potted garden are basil, sage, rocket, oregano, thyme, chives, mint and coriander. Container herbs should get at least five hours of sun per day. The more sun they get, the better their flavour, health and resistance to pests and disease. Potted herbs should be watered more frequently than garden herbs because containers can lose moisture quickly, especially in the summer heat.

Blooming Babes 

Agapanthus (Agapanthus africanus), also sometimes referred to as African lily are one of South Africa's best-known garden plants. Their strap-like leaves and striking blue or white flowers make them favourites in plant borders as well as in containers. Agapanthus is a very undemanding, low-maintenance plant and will survive the elements thanks to its water-storing root system.

Plant them in full sun in composted, well-draining soil and water once a week.

Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) is a sure favourite in South Africa with its abundance of huge ball-shaped and lace-capped flowers, blooming from November to late summer. They come in a stunning variety of colours from intense red to pink to blue to white and often bicoloured depending on the soil pH. They are shade-loving plants, (they like the morning/ late afternoon sun) and do best in well-drained fertilised soil. Keep them well watered and to intensify their colour, feed them regularly. Chat to the experts at your local GCA garden centre for the best hydrangea food.

Bedding Besties

Begonias (Begonia) - If you feel like your garden isn’t summer ready just yet and it needs that little something extra…. what you need are begonias. There are over 1,800 species of the Begoniaceae family, and this small plant will add colour to your shady garden and add that little something extra with its bright blooms in no time. Commonly used as a house or patio plant, they do best in moisture-retaining, fertilised soil. Fertilise with Bio Ocean for optimal results.

Polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) – this unusual little plant from Madagascar is grown for its speckled leaves and is available in light pink, white and red. It is beautifully planted as a filler plant, between other pot plants. It requires medium to bright light and does best in rich, well-drained potting soil. Water it regularly in hot weather and prune it down if it grows too lanky.

Water Wise

With the sun beating down, mulching is now of utmost importance to keep plants moist. 

Include drought-resistant plants like zinnias and portulaca in your summer garden.

Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) is one of the easiest annuals to grow, Zinnia flowers bring an explosion of colour wherever they go. Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to the cheery flowers that bloom in nearly every bright colour imaginable. They grow quickly and reliably, making them a great addition to your garden.

Portulaca (Portulaca grandiflora) are popular bedding plants with succulent leaves and colourful flowers. Many varieties have semi-double to fully double flowers that resemble miniature roses. Flowers come in hot colours, like yellow, orange, red, and bright pink. White, cream, and variegated flower colours are also available. The low water requirement of portulaca makes it a natural choice for the container or water-wise garden.

Inland Gardening 

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

  • If there is a lot of rainwater runoff could cause erosion in your garden. Breakwater flow speed with barriers, mulches and terracing 
  • Ensure plants are securely supported to withstand summer storms and prevent any damage
  • If your lawn isn’t dark emerald green by now, fertilise it with Bio Ganic Lawns and water and mow regularly. The holidays are coming, and you are going to be spending lots of time lying on your lawn, either watching the clouds go by or gazing at the stars, and you deserve to be comfortable!
  • ‘Recycle’ water by harvesting rainwater and reusing household water – it can be as easy as just connecting your gutter pipe to a water tank, or showering with a bucket or two next to your feet

Coastal Gardening

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

  • Make snail traps - did you know that snails don’t like parsley? That is why it is a good reason to plant miles of parsley between, or as a border around lettuces, green beans or swiss chard to protect them
  • Support tall perennials to prevent from strong wind damage and collapsing
  • Keep newly planted summer bulbs moist
  • Check your irrigation system to ensure no dry spots

Source: Life is a garden