By Life is a Garden – www.lifeisagarden.co.za
As the last month of Summer comes to an end, it’s time to start preparing the garden for Autumn and Winter growing. March presents ideal conditions for sowing seeds as the day temperatures are still warm enough, while night temperatures begin dropping gradually.
Flowers and foliage
The Autumn climate is well-suited for planting as new roots get a chance to establish themselves before Spring. Try sowing these lovelies now for a brilliant flush of colour and fragrance:
- African daisy (Dimorphoteca) to beautify beds, borders, and containers;
- Livingstone daisy, known also as Bokbaai vygie (Mesembryanthemum), are colourful customers;
- Virginian stocks (Malcolmia maritima) as an enthusiastic and cheerful bloom;
- Pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) to keep pests at bay in the veggie patch; and
- Blue Felicia bush (Felicia amelloides) for fast-growing, striking, sky-blue flowers.
Before sowing sweet peas, prepare their new home by digging deep trenches and working in some nutritious compost. Bonemeal (if you don’t have dogs) and super-phosphate are excellent choices to assist in creating your sweet pea sanctuary. Remember to soak the seeds overnight in lukewarm water before sowing directly into the ground.
Roses are a simply spectacular sight in Autumn! To ensure quality blooms into Winter, continue with regular preventative treatments/spraying for black spot, beetles, and bollworm. As the days get shorter, the roses start to go dormant and withdraw food from their leaves. To compensate for this and to provide enough food for new growth and flowers, fertilise them with rose food. Regular watering is very important if there is insufficient rainfall.
Tree tip: Plant new fruit trees from mid-March onwards in temperate regions to ensure a good Spring and Summer harvest.
Veggies and herbs
Winter veggies are ready to be planted for delicious soups and stews to enjoy during the chilly nights. Sow/plant these cool-season sensations now for an Autumn/Winter harvest:
- Cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower;
- Broad beans, Brussel sprouts, and onions;
- Spinach, leeks, celery, and peas;
- Gooseberries, beetroot, and garlic; and
- Oriental veggie varieties available at your GCA Garden Centre.
For an on-demand, homegrown supply of fresh herbs during Winter, start harvesting and preserving your greens now. Chop mint, parsley, basil and lemon balm, place them in an ice tray, fill with water, and pop them in the freezer. Aromatic herbs such as oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage, bay leaf, and rosemary, are better air-dried.
Must love maintenance
March is a month of maintenance, for which you’ll be gloriously rewarded as we move into Winter. Start these maintenance jobs now:
- Work in about 30cm of compost into beds with a handful of bonemeal or super-phosphate to ensure plants have all the nutrition they need for Winter;
- Trim ground covers like sutera (bacopa) that may have taken strain during the hot summer months. They’ll produce fresh new growth and will thicken up nicely;
- Give fynbos plants, like confetti bush, a light trim to shape them up before their Winter flowering;
- Protect grapes this time of year and prune back excessive leaves to allow more sunlight into the crop;
- Once nectarines, peaches and plums have finished fruiting, prune to shape and remove any dead or diseased branches; and lastly,
- remember to reduce the amount of water given to houseplants.