December has arrived and with it has brought the official beginning of Summer. We all know what that means. Long sunny days, lounging at the pool or beach, holidays and our favourite festivities. However, this does not mean our gardens hit the pause button while we are gallivanting around town. There are still tasks we need to do to keep them in tip-top shape. Let’s dive into December gardening.
Neat and Tidy
If you’re managing to get away on holiday for a couple of weeks this December there are a few things to keep in mind. The top of the list is keeping up with garden maintenance if you can because let’s face it, crime is at an all-time high this time of year when we let our hair down for a change and when your garden looks like a scene out of ‘Jurassic Park’, it is a dead giveaway that you’re not around. So, if your garden maintenance contractor is working through December and you have a very accommodating neighbour or family member to let them in, then this is a good idea to keep things neat and tidy and the appearance that your home is not abandoned whilst you are vacationing.
Another thing to keep in mind is watering your garden so that you don’t return to a barren wasteland when you get back either. Set your automatic irrigation system to water 2 – 3 times a week for at least 10 – 15 minutes for deep water penetration, either at night or very early morning, so your plants manage our very hot summer days. If you have a rain sensor that is a great bonus so that you don’t waste water and money when you don’t need to. If you don’t have an automatic system, them applying a healthy layer of compost and/or mulch will help mitigate water loss by keeping the soil cooler and moist for longer periods after rain. This is a good idea whether you have an irrigation system or not and your garden will love you for it.
If you’re staying home or working through December then this is a great time to be around and enjoy your garden. Besides the obvious reasons of being able to enjoy the outdoors, having a braai and socialising, rather, we are entering the height of the growing season and you must take advantage of it. Fill in gaps in your garden with new plants or even some summer annuals and perennials like New Guinea Sun Patiens, Cosmos, Ageratum, Achillea, Echinacea, Erigeron, Felicia, Salvias, Scabiosa, Limonium perezii and Gauras for the sunny spots. For spots with a little bit of shade use Foxgloves, Pansies, Salvia coccinea, Plectranthus species and varieties, Aquilegia, Arum lilies and Alchemilla. These are just a few, so run down to your nurseries and speak to someone knowledgeable to help you fill those empty areas.
Crop it Up
You’ll also have the opportunity to get your crops in your vegetable and herb garden going if you’re home because there is nothing like serving a dish with ingredients that come from right outside the kitchen door. Since it is early summer consider growing tomatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, eggplants (aubergine), cucumbers, berries, chives, parsley, coriander, rocket, dill, peppers, melons, corn, basil, thyme, origanum, mint and summer squash to name but a few of the most common.
And there you have it! A few of the things you can do during December to keep your home garden looking great whether you are spending it at home or away.