Summer 2023 - the garden checklist
Here’s a garden checklist for a great summer season.
Keeping plants alive
Heading away? Check all climbing fruit, vegetables and ornamentals are well staked up, so they don’t collapse into a heavy heap that needs untangling on your return.
While you’re away: move pots into shade if possible, to conserve their need for watering. Otherwise deeply water and place a thick layer of mulch on the pots.
Houseplants should be moved to a cool area such as the laundry or placed in a sink with some water in it. Don’t expect your red poinsettia to go the distance though – something has to go in the compost heap in 2023!
At home? Be waterwise by keeping buckets in the shower. Empty them into potted plants –more moisture is lost by plants in containers than those planted in the garden.
The fruit and vegetable garden
Leek planting time: plant leeks with Garden Mix into 10mm deep holes - using a pencil works well. The soil will gradually close around the leek. Keep watered.
Stake tall sunflower plants to ensure the bees find the flowers easily. Sunflowers are great for adding fun and height to the kitchen garden.
Plant new lettuce seedlings to keep the salad garden going – but they don’t enjoy summer heat – morning sun is just fine.
Regularly harvesting zucchinis is an absolute must – they grow to marrow size very quickly and there only so many times you can serve stuffed marrow in a summer season!
Use an organic pesticide such as Bugtrol to control whitefly and aphids on ripening vegetables. Spray very early before bees are active.
Place shade-cloth over tomato plants to prevent sun scorch on ripening fruit.
Harvest garlic once the leaves begin to yellow. Ideally place the garlic on top of the soil to dry in the sun or place in a dry area.
Thought you’d missed the basil season? Planting or sowing basil seed now is just fine.
The ornamental garden
Plants that can tolerate long dry periods include succulents, hebes, lavender and NZ astelias (the spiky silvery ones)
Weeding is good – it lets desirable plants grow on in the summer heat. But don’t trim hedges and other evergreens and expose them to the sun – the exposed foliage will burn.
Planning a late summer party? Trim back roses, lavenders, and daisies to encourage a new flush of blooms in March.
Mulching in summer has benefits – just weed and water the soil first. Plants love moist soil – plus the earthworms will stay around too!
Fancy some flowers? Several reliable perennial plants will offer months of blooms including Peruvian lilies (alstroemerias), salvias, daisies, phlox, petunias and dahlias.
Tropical themed plants look great around pools and patios. Palms and NZ pukas offer height and bulk, and canna lilies, bird of paradise plants and bromeliads all make great underplanting stories
Keep the water topped up in birdbaths and bowls in the garden as it gets hotter – dehydration doesn’t just affect humans.
Softwood cuttings (camellias, fuchsias eriostemons and lavenders) can be struck now. There’s nothing more satisfying than free plants. Youtube offers great ‘how to’s’ on propagation by cuttings.
Summer fragrance isn’t just from perfumed roses. Planting gardenias, hoyas, frangipani and philadelphus adds flowers with wonderful aromas to waft around the garden.
Two NZ plants, the cabbage tree and the kowhai, suffer damage from caterpillars munching on fresh foliage in summer. A fortnightly spray with natural Bugtrol will deal to the problem.
Mow before you go. And mow when you get back from holiday, but do not scalp it because it’ll be vulnerable to scorch on hot days. Keep the blades at the highest setting.
Hand weeding a lawn is seen as time consuming but hey it’s holiday time – relax with a daisy grubber and the grass between the toes….