Garden Like A Granny
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Why does your Granny seem to have the best garden on the block? We spill her secrets here.
Planting the right thing for the season can have your garden blooming even before your neighbours start their spring cleaning.
For many of us, winter means hibernation. Short days, frosty mornings, long naps, warm drinks…nothing about winter really invites you into the garden, does it?
For me, winter garden maintenance ends with pulling up the last dead tomato stalks and maybe giving my roses a good prune just after the April holidays. My lawn lies dormant under unraked leaves, my veggie garden is mostly empty and my planning for spring remains undone until July. Yes. I know that’s too late.
Now think about your neighbourhood – that one house that just seems to be ahead of the game each year. You know the one I’m talking about. With the beautiful spring flowers on display in the front garden and the lawn that just seems to go from brown to emerald in the blink of an eye, on the first of September
We are here to tell you that no – the owner of that home doesn’t get help from the fairies. They have simply mastered the art of the “head start”.
The key to a vibrant spring garden is putting in the work three months before. Simple as that.
Garden Like A Granny
My granny has a lovely garden year-round, but each spring it seems like she has added that special bit of magic to it. The flowers are brighter, the lawn greener, the blossoms more abundant. She claims it’s all down to the work she puts in before the winter really hits. (I can attest to the “work” part – she spends multiple hours a day in her garden.)
So, this year, why not follow the granny garden route and see if this gives your garden the necessary head start, come spring?
According to the “Keith Kirsten’s Complete Garden Manual for South Africa”, my granny’s favourite book, there is a lot of work that can (and should) be done in a garden over the winter months:
- May is the month in which you should be planting your lilies and treated tulip bulbs. It is also your last chance to plant irises to give them enough time to become established before the winter sets in.
- Once you have planted these bulbs and they start growing, water them once a month and provide ample multipurpose plant food.
- If you have dahlias in your garden, now is the time to prune them back and dig up the tubers. Store them in a cool dry place until September, when they go back in the ground.
- Bind up and support your sweet peas and give them ample water. These lovely little plants are some of the first to give you flowers in September.
If you have a veggie garden, prepare the ground by removing any dead growth, work in good quality compost and get planting.
Onions, peas, garlic, spring onions and spinach all make good winter veggie garden companions and won’t leave your beds looking sad and fallow.
Granny’s Luxury Lawn Lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lawn can be done even during winter when lawn growth is dormant. Feeding and keeping your lawn happy will result in it being ready for the new season, come spring. If you don’t live in a winter rainfall area, you should look into watering your lawn once every two weeks and ensure that you keep it free from debris. This allows your lawn to get maximum exposure to sunlight and fresh air.
As most warm-area lawns go dormant in winter, they need less nitrogen in their fertilizer. But keeping your lawn well fed with a 2:3:2 solution, which contains much less nitrogen and ample phosphorous is a good idea.
Winter Gardens Don’t Need To Be Dreary.
Many plants still flower in winter and can add a lovely splash of colour to your garden. Azaleas, camellias, gladiolus, roses and snapdragons all bloom in winter.
Even strelitzias, primulas and tulips can give you lovely winter growth.
Let’s choose head start over hibernate this winter and see what we can achieve if we meticulously and fastidiously garden like a granny this May. Maybe when spring comes around, we’ll have the Irises and Sweet Peas to show for our labours and be ready to take on the new growing season head-on. Because remember, the dahlias should be back in the ground before the end of October!