We've been blessed with good summer rains in large parts of the country. If you've been away for the holidays you will either be amazed at how green and rampant your garden is looking, or you will be a bit disappointed at how neglected it is looking. Irrespective of its current condition, follow the checklist below to get it back into full production.
There is an old Chinese saying that it is the footsteps of the farmer that makes the crops grow. Grab your food gardening diary/journal and spend a few minutes in your food garden observing what needs to be done. First note the general appearance of your crops, and then start looking at detail. Note any pests and tasks such as watering, thinning and weeding that needs to be done.
- Water if needed. Thereafter re-establish your watering routine.
- Clean up the food garden and remove all weeds, dead plants and plants that are past their prime. Start with weeds that are in flower, don't allow them to seed. And don't compost any seed bearing weeds.
- Rogue out all disease bearing plants, especially cucurbits that show signs of mildew infestation. Do the same with plants, like beans and cabbages that have very high aphid populations. Don't compost diseased material, and don't use it as a mulch. Rather throw them (secretly) in the neighbour's yard. Just kidding.
- There's still some very hot weather up ahead. If at all possible use the weeds and crops you remove as a mulch around the remaining crops. Or use the lawn clippings as a mulch. Especially in the pathways.
- The rain might have leached out the more water soluble nutrients such as nitrogen. If this is the case some crops may show light green or even yellow leaves. Fertilize them with a good quality, water soluble, organic fertilizer. Follow the manufacturer's recommendation.
- Stake and tie up plants such as tomatoes and runner beans. Check your chilli peppers and sweet peppers as well, especially those heavy with fruit.
- Harvest crops for storing such as potatoes and sweet potatoes. The best days for this according to the moon calendar are Tuesday to Friday.
- Prune herbs to tidy them up and get them back into shape.
- Repot any herbs that are getting too big for their containers.
- Sow successions of flowering, fruiting and root crops. Saturday and Sunday are the best days for this.
- Last chance to sow artichokes on Monday, Saturday or Sunday.
- Remember to keep your weekly food gardening diary up to date.