It’s now November, the “Cup’s” been run and won and we’re just about to have the Pageant (sort of anyway) which signals the start of the run into Christmas as well as the approach of summer. This generally means higher temperatures although so far we’ve been lucky and had a fairly mild and dampish spring.
Watering of the garden, in particular pots and hanging baskets, is something to keep an eye on as temperatures regularly creep above 25 degrees, we’ve just had one day well above 30 degrees, so before we get a sustained run of hotter weather it’s the perfect time to get out and check your irrigation system. If you have a mains controller with a battery backup you should change the battery. Just like your smoke alarms replace the battery at the start and end of daylight saving to ensure that your program will be saved if something happens to the power supply. Check that your system is set to run either early in the morning or in the evening/night after the sun is off your plants. You will lose a lot less water to evaporation by doing this. Run your system on manual to make sure that it’s working properly, flush filters, fix any leaks and replace drippers or sprayers that are not working. If you don’t have a watering system now is also the perfect time to install one, even simply getting a manually operated tap timer or two, it saves water and time and means that you can go away for extended periods and know that your garden is being looked after. While you’re at it, check hoses, fittings and especially the O rings on hose fittings too, they break down in our hot sun and may need to be replaced. If you do all of this now you should not have any nasty surprises when the weather does indeed get hotter.
Having done the above, the next thing to consider is mulch, do you just need to top up existing mulch around your plants or do you need to start from scratch? Mulch comes in many different forms:- Pea Straw, Sugar Cane, Pine Bark, Coloured Barks, Forest Mulch, Pebbles and more. It really doesn’t make any difference which one you use; choose one to compliment your garden style; the important thing is to actually use one. You can significantly reduce the evaporation of water from the soil around your plants, a saving in time watering let alone the cost of the water. Mulch if put on thick enough also helps to suppress weeds which compete with your plants for that water and look unsightly. If you want to fertilise your plants do this at the same time, scrape the mulch back to expose the soil, apply the fertiliser and replace the mulch. Putting the fertiliser directly under the mulch means that it will get into the soil quicker and go straight to work, not have to work through the mulch first.
Treating your garden with “Wetting Agent” and Seaweed extracts are very beneficial now too. Wetting agents come in both granular and liquid form and can be applied to the whole garden including pots and hanging baskets. They will help to hold moisture in the soil for longer periods cutting down on water usage. Seaweed extracts when used either as a foliar spray or as a soil application will also help make your plants more resilient and able to ride out stressful circumstances much more effectively.
When you are out and about in the garden even if it’s not particularly “hot” remember to be sun safe. Use sunscreen, wear a hat and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The main message though is to enjoy your garden, it’s a great time of year with abundance of colour, and by doing some or all of the above it will stay looking lovely up to and well beyond Christmas!