December in the Garden

After a year of “busyness” and hard work, there is nothing better than relaxing with friends and family over the holidays. Let your guests appreciate your garden with you as you soak up the sun and enjoy a braai or two.  Many of your seeds that you sowed in August will be ready to harvest, including watermelon which is fantastic to incorporate in your festive entertainment menu.  Get creative with the flowers that are blooming in your garden by making your own table arrangements – make an extra one to give your guest as a gift to take home.  Visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre for some great ideas and supplies.

What to Sow:

Carrots are a great option to sow during December.  They are fairly easy to grow and do best in deep sandy loam or loamy soils with a loose structure.

  • Sow the seeds directly in the beds
  • Make small furrows one fingernail (1cm) deep and about two or three hand widths (20cm to 30cm) apart
  • Sow the seeds about 2cm apart in the furrows
  • Water the beds well after sowing
  • In hot, dry weather, cover the rows with a thin layer of grass clippings until the seeds emerge after seven to 14 days
  • Remove the grass and spread thinly between the rows

What to Plant

Barberton Daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) originate in South Africa and are found in many different bright colours from hot pink to orange to white.

  • They are best grown outside, favouring direct sunlight and sandy soil.
  • They grow well in both pots and garden beds and should be fertilised monthly from September until March.
  • They make excellent patio plants and also work well as an indoor plant to brighten up your living space.

Eggplant (Solanum melongena), also known as aubergine or brinjal, come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours.

  • The most common of these edible fruit used in our homes is the Black Beauty.  Some other varieties are the White Star Eggplant – which produces shiny, white fruit that are ideal for use in Italian meals, and Mini Thai Moon Eggplant – which produces fruit similar in size to a tomato and are white in colour with a few green strips.
  • They are the ideal accompaniment to Thai and Asian recipes. Eggplants are best grown in full sun, in fertile and well-drained soil.

What to Feed:

Lawn fertilisation is essential in December due to it being a very hot month. Use a nitrogen-rich fertiliser which will encourage leaf development. Remember to water your lawn fairly after fertilising.

What to Spray:

  • Protect strawberries from snails and slugs. Harvest the fruit regularly.
  • Spray a non-selective weed killer on all weeds in your paving. Non-selective weed killers have no residual action in the ground and work through the chlorophyll of the leaves

What to Pick:

You can now enjoy the watermelons and sweet melons that you sowed in August. A large watermelon is ripe if it feels a little bumpy when you stroke it. When sweet melons are ripe, a small crack appears at the point where the fruit attaches to the vine.

Bedding Besties

Gazanias (Gazania species) are fantastic for low maintenance gardens. They produce cheerful blooms with bursts of colour which are complimented by their dark green glossy foliage. There are also gazanias with silvery foliage, which is always a nice contrast to have in the garden.

  • They grow easily and neatly and do their best in hot, dry weather.
  • They are low growers (they reach a height of between 20 cm to 25 cm and work well as edgings for beds, in rockeries, in containers and in hanging baskets that are in hot, sunny positions.
  • They need full sun and can tolerate most types of garden soil if there is good drainage.

Marigolds (Tagetes) are a favourite, no-fuss annual that can bring the colour of sunshine to your garden, as well as butterflies, bees, ladybugs, and other beneficial insects.

  • They love full sun and well-draining soil and will produce abundant blooms.
  • Marigold seeds germinate quickly, within just a few days, and bloom in about 8 weeks. This quick sense of satisfaction makes them a great first-time gardening project for kids and garden newbies.
  • Marigolds are a great companion in your vegetable garden and can help protect your veggies from predators and pests. If you don’t want to plant seeds and would rather have instant colour

Pop into your nearest Garden Centre GCA and pick up some marigold seedlings.

Rose Care

Watering: Continue to water 3 times a week, or more depending on rain fall.  During dry, hot spells daily watering may be required.

Fertilising: If you are going away – only fertilise on your return.

Pest and disease control:   Continue with fortnightly spraying for black spot, mildew, aphids, beetles and bollworm. Keep a look out for brown, night-active chafer beetles which chew away on leaves. Ask your local Garden Centre GCA for the correct insecticide to use.

Other tasks:  Remove spent flowers and disbud hybrid teas by removing the side buds so the main bloom develops into a good quality flower. When picking roses for your home, only remove 50 percent of the blooms; this ensures a good balance of leaves on the bush and does not put too much pressure on the roots.

Inland Gardening

(Gauteng, Free State, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo)

  • Check and treat your pool for algae growth and clean up the paved surrounds. Check for any loose paving and repair.
  • To avoid blight on tomatoes and mildew on cucumbers, squash and pumpkins, water them early in the morning to allow the leaves time to dry off before nightfall.
  • Give citrus trees their mid-season feed of granular fertiliser.
  • Planting seed potatoes in December and January will produce a harvest in April and May for storing and eating during winter.

Coastal Gardening

(Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal)

  • Weed the garden – after weeding, place a layer of organic mulch over every last inch of soil. Mulching not only saves water and time when you’re busy entertaining family over the festive season, but will also provide a professional and well-cared-for look and will display existing plants to their best advantage.
  • Refresh your garden furniture by giving them a fresh coat of paint. While your paint brush is out, give your garden shed, picket fences and pots a fresh coat too. Make new slipcovers for scatter cushions or treat yourself to some new soft furnishings for your garden.
  • Summer pests are prevalent now, so keep a watch out and treat quickly with the correct formula suggested by your local Garden Centre GCA

Life is a Garden wish you a very happy holiday. Enjoy your garden and share it with family and friends this holiday season.

For more gardening tips and information, visit Gardening trends or join the conversation on our Facebook page.