Preparing Garden Beds

Preparing your Garden in January

Start off the new year with some preparation in the garden. Our friends at Life is A Garden have helped us out with some tips.

Flex your gardening muscles
Giving yourself a good workout in the privacy of your own garden is much nicer than going to a gym and you get the benefit of fresh air!
While you are getting fitter and trimmer with pruning, weeding, composting, raking, digging, planting and mowing, your garden will reward your time and spent perspiration with lush growth and great harvests of flowers and edibles.

Woman Stretching in the Garden

You are also spending time outside in the sunshine, and fresh air has a positive influence on your psychological health as well – it relieves stress and helps with  depression. Regular hours spent in  the garden will work out the muscles  in your legs, back, stomach and will  also give you a healthy cardiovascular buzz while the calories slowly melt away.

Be sure to stretch out before you start your garden work out, this will loosen your muscles and prevent stiffness and pain later on. You can also use this time to plan your "workout" and decide on the best place to start.

Vary your garden workout with different actions like  pruning, raking, mowing, digging and weeding, and spend about 15 minutes on each activity to work out different muscles. Do some stretching and releasing exercises before moving on to the next action. 

A resolution to keep to:
If we pledge our minds and hearts to using modern technology and good old common sense to save water, we will get the maximum value out of what we have committed to the soil with a clear conscience – not only in large gardens, but also in small spaces, and even in pots on a patio or balcony. You can still water your plants while being waterwise - instead of putting on sprinklers, use a watering can to water the roots directly - your plants will get all the benefits of watering without wasting water.

On hot days:

Mist Spray indoor plants
  • Mist-spray houseplants like ferns and orchids to provide extra humidity.
  • Keep ponds and bird baths topped up.
  • Punch holes in the bottom of plastic milk, water, or soft drink bottles, place them on or in the soil around plants, and fill them with water from your hose or watering can as needed.
  • Use a soaker hose rather than a sprinkler. Less water is required because the water is concentrated on the soil nearer the roots, and there is less evaporation.

Mulching is priority!
Mulch around all plants and veggies using a light 5-10cm mulch (dried leaves, straw, bark, coarse compost and other commercial mulches available at your local nurseries), which allow water to penetrate the soil easily. Mulching can also reduce watering requirements by 50% and discourage weeds from growing.

Bug watch

Red Spider Mite
  • Remove old flower stalks and dead material around the base of perennials to curb mildew, rust and red spider mite.
  • Spray roses against black spot, mildew and aphids
  • Watch out for hawk moth caterpillars feeding at night on impatiens, arum lilies and fuchsias – remove them by hand.
  • Put Snail bait out to keep them from feasting on your plants
  • Control lawn caterpillar infestations.

    Remedies for all the above pest and disease problems are available at your nearest garden centre.

    You need to feed
    Lawns will need slow releasing nitrogen to maintain their lush green colour. Garden containers, young seedlings, and indoor plants should be fed every two weeks with liquid fertiliser. Azaleas and Camellias will need an acid fertiliser to help them set buds for winter.

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

    • Don’t allow evergreen hedges and topiaries to grow out of shape. Keep them lightly trimmed and neat.
    • Sow Beans, Beetroot, Carrots, Leeks, Sweet corn, Radish, Spinach, and Cape Gooseberries, and plant seedlings of Tomatoes, Chilies and Peppers (capsicums), Basil, Lettuce, Celery, Parsley, and Brinjal (Egg Fruit).
    • Plant seedlings of Celosia, annual Salvias, Petunias, Impatiens, Vincas, Begonias and Marigolds.
    • Feed fruit trees like Mangoes, Avocados, Lemons and Granadilla vines. Apply the specialised fertilisers for roots, foliage, and future fruit production – use slow releasing fertilisers at this time of the year. These are typically in the form of pellets and not liquid.
    • Remove fallen fruit to discourage pests breeding in them.
    • Sow quick-maturing Lobularias (Alyssum), dwarf Marigolds, Portulacas and Zinnias.
    • Problems with scale and aphids? Spray against these critters. Visit your local garden centre for the best spray.
    • Ensure there is no stagnant water in the cup-area of bromeliads – this will prevent mosquito larvae from hatching there.
    • Nip out the growing tips of chrysanthemums and poinsettias to encourage bushy growth.

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

    • Prune low branches of trees to allow in more sunlight.
    • Tame overgrown shrubs, except those which will flower and produce Berries in winter and spring.
    • Rotate indoor and shady patio plants, as well as hanging baskets, regularly towards the light to ensure even leaf growth.
    • Pull out the old flowering stems of Inca lilies with a firm tug.
    • Cut long Lavender stalks, tie into bunches and hang upside down to dry. Place them in your linen cupboard.
    • Plant more Chives, Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Sage, Coriander and remember to plant your first crop of seed Potatoes for an early winter harvest.
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