As social plans grow and the weather heats up, it’s important to take care of the garden you spent time nurturing during winter.
From perfectly timed vegetables to beautiful blooms, find out how to get the most out of your garden this summer from Swinburne Horticulture teacher Kate O’Grady.
Get your summer veggies in now
Because the weather hasn’t warmed up as quickly this year, it’s not too late to plant vegetables (particularly tomatoes and basil) in the garden if you want them in time for your summer salads and BBQs.
‘We have a general rule in the Horticulture department: when the water running out of your tap becomes tepid (lukewarm), this indicates it’s the right time to plant vegetables for the summer.’
Ms O’Grady recommends planting seedlings at this stage of the season as it’s a bit late to propagate your veggies from seed. Some spring and summer veggies are particularly sensitive to temperature though, such as basil.
‘Basil is very sensitive to temperature. If you got your basil in at the start of spring and it has died or turned yellow, it’s not you, it’s the weather!’
Ensuring your garden is regularly and thoroughly watered is more important than ever as the weather heats up. Remember to give you garden a deep water at the root zone (soil) of the plants rather than watering the foliage and do so during the morning if you can.
‘Watering later in the day can create humidity around the plants overnight as the water may not have evaporated. This can become the perfect environment for fungal diseases like powdery mildew and black spot.’
Remember to keep your plants hydrated as the temperature increases
Ms O’Grady says now is a good time to use mulch and recommends using a bush mulch for the general areas within your garden and pea straw on vegetable patches.
‘Mulch acts as a weed suppressant, provides organic matter to the soil, regulates soil temperature and helps the soil retain moisture, so it’s great to mulch your garden at any point during the year, but particularly import during the hot months.’
Pick your days to garden
Plants can become stressed during hot days. If you are deciding what days to garden, it’s best to look at the weather forecast and pick a day that is cooler to complete any gardening tasks.
‘Any planting should especially be avoided on hot days, so get up early, water the garden then spend the days at the beach,’ she says.
‘While we can do our best to take care of our garden, there will always be plants that will develop problems or even die. Don’t be disheartened and see it as an opportunity to grow something new!’
The Horticulture Department will be having a plant sale on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 December. The sale will be held at the Wantirna campus in the nursery. There will be plenty of plants available including the Christmas favourite Poinsettia as well as Ms O’Grady and her team providing gardening advice.