The South African summer is fast approaching and there is much to do to get Mzansi’s edible gardens in tip-top shape. Fortunately it’s easy to get stuck into prepping that veggie patch with spring nights heating up and seedlings beginning to sprout.
If you want to continue seeing new life blossom in your garden, it might be a good idea to get a few pollinators in your veggie patch, Cape Town gardener Stephanie Mullins advises.
“Make sure you have plants to attract your pollinators and your beneficial insects so that you don’t have to use pesticides in your garden and that the ecosystem that you are creating is providing all the needs and wants for it to flourish.”
How to keep plants healthy
Keep it simple: The key lies in the fertility of your soil, says Mullins. “Look at what you have in your garden and how you could turn that into food or nutrients for the soil so that the plants can benefit from it.”
Regular watering: Water well. Mulch will help with moisture retention.
Pruning and harvesting: “The way you harvest and prune dictates the way your plant grow,” Mullins says. Be gentle but firm.
Fertilise: Feed leafy veg and herbs with an organic fertiliser every six weeks. If you are weeding your garden, Mullins suggests making a weed tea. All you do is add water to weeds and let the brew ferment for two weeks. “That water is like a free fertiliser for your plants,” she says.
Chores for veggie patch gardeners across the nation
For North West gardeners:
Pollen-rich flowers filled with nectar invites insects and birds to the garden. It is not all sunshine and roses though. Do look out for pests like aphids and whitefly. Try an insecticide, but if the infestation is not that intense a blast of water from your hose will do.
For KwaZulu-Natal gardeners:
Sow root veggies like carrots and turnips, then follow up with more beans, maize and pumpkin. In October you can stake runner bean plants too.
For Gauteng gardeners:
Spread a generous layer of compost throughout the garden as well as in areas where new planting will be done. Compost acts as a soil conditioner as well as mulch, ensuring a nourishing, moist, weed-free environment in which to grow happy, healthy plants.
For Western Cape gardeners:
It is a good idea to plant out your last crops of lettuce and coriander before the harsh South African summer hits.
For Free State gardeners:
Plant more potatoes, but also don’t neglect those you have already started growing. Stake climbing beans and sow sweetcorn, all the pumpkin types and squashes, cucumbers, melon and bush beans. Buy and plant the seedlings of tomatoes, eggplant and chilies.
For Northern Cape gardeners:
Prune flowering peaches, almonds and quinces as soon as they have finished flowering. Sow herbs like sweet basil and coriander and plant asparagus.
For Mpumalanga gardeners:
Weeds are starting to root; you are advised to keep them pulled out while they are young. Mulching saves water.
For Limpopo gardeners:
For your kids’ sake, sow watermelon and spanspek. It will be worth it when they flash those beaming faces and sticky fingers!