What a beautiful time of the year it is. We have received good soaking rain which is filling up the water table, dams and washing the rivers clean from the stale and dirty water. By just taking a walk around your garden you will notice how much your plants appreciate the good rainfall. With the rain brings the most beautiful fungi (toadstools and mushrooms), moss and lichen. I found a really useful website that helps identify which mushrooms are edible and which are poisonous in South Africa.
While walking around take a note pad with you, especially after a very wet spell look out for the damp forming on retaining walls, leaks on your roof areas where water does not drain so freely. Check that your gutters are cleaned out frequently as a build-up of leaf matter will eventually cause rust on galvanised gutters. As you walk, take notes on specific areas that will require attention in the dry winter months. Don’t wait for next summer to get things done – plan ahead and get those menial tasks done sooner rather than later.
We had builders working on our home this summer and oh how I wish they had come in winter as there would have been less destruction on all my beautiful herb gardens and flowerbeds.
I have noticed after these two weeks of heavy rain, areas within my garden that remain wet with about 3cm deep water after a two- to three-day period of dry weather, could be caused by rubble or a clay content soil. I may have to install a French drain. Look out for areas that have remained completely dry even after the rain, and don’t forget to water these areas.
I have documented a lot more weeds this season which have sown themselves into my garden; I have also noticed many Christmas beetles which have taken a real liking to my vegetable garden. Now I am not one for poisons – so my wife and I go out with our head torches and catch the beetles in a bucket and the next day we feed them to our chickens and they produce the most beautiful eggs in return.
If you have pot plants, it is best to check that they are not waterlogged. I am amazed at how many pot suppliers do not put holes in the bottom of pots. If you have pots and you notice that your plants within the pots have gone limp or are starting to go yellow all of a sudden this is generally a sign of them being waterlogged.
A tool to help you keep to water restrictions
Unfortunately, even though we have experienced this beautiful rain, we are not yet out of the grip of the drought and water crisis. I have noticed many households with irrigation running while it is raining. Many of our automated irrigation systems now come with an option of installing a rain sensor which checks the humidity in the air and will stop your irrigation from watering over a very wet spell. These are easy to install and Rainbird has a nifty device which you can attach to your irrigation computer.
Now when it comes to garden maintenance try not to cut your lawn on very wet days as this damages your lawn even more. When it is wet, the blades usually grip and rip the leaves instead of cutting cleanly. If you really have to cut your lawn I would recommend cutting it on a higher setting as this would ensure less damage to your lawn. If you are expecting rain over the next few weeks, now is the time to buy organic fertilisers and spread them over your lawns and into your flowerbeds so that when the rains come the nutrients will soak deep within the soil.
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Who is Nicholas Spargo?
Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants, has been in the landscape trade for 12 years as well as being a lecturer at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre for the past year. He was awarded a Gold for a design at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre Design Show in 2008, is an Invasive Species Consultant and is affiliated with the South African Green Industries Council.
Landscaping and education are very close to his heart.