Mulching your garden
February is usually the hottest month of the year. Be prepared and protect your plants by mulching your garden beds. Mulching retains water in the soil for a longer period of time, making it more accessible to plant roots. At the same time mulching is also a great way of keeping pests like snails out, and can also help to lower weed seed germination in an area. Some common mulching mediums are bark, peach and apricot pips, woodchips and coarse compost.
Remember that your plants (in particular shrubs), need regular light pruning to keep them healthy. Pruning harshly once in a while can be very detrimental to plants. Fertilizing after pruning is always a great idea.
Bugs attacking your garden
One of your most common hot weather harmful bugs is red spider mite. These are small arachnoids which are most common during hot summer months and dry conditions. If you have a severe infestation you will notice webbing over parts of the plant. If untreated, defoliation will take place, and even lead to the eventual death of the plant. Tips to prevent red spider mite:
* Keep your plants well-watered (using harvested rain water).
* Poor air circulation leads to increased populations so make sure you space your plants out properly when planting.
* Mulching will also help as it keeps water in the soil.
I would avoid using heavy chemicals as these will kill off natural predators as well. Ask your local nursery for an organic insecticide to treat affected plants.
Keep your lawn water-wise
Encourage deep roots and therefore a higher drought tolerance by cutting your grass at a higher level. Longer leaf blades also shade the roots, keeping them cooler as well as keeping water in the soil for a longer period. The normal recommendation is to increase the height of your lawn mower by 50% during dry periods, to avoid stressing the lawn out with short cuts.
Your veggie garden
This is the last recommended month until spring, in which you can sow bush and runner beans, squashes, pumpkins and artichokes. Also plant your batch of seed potatoes for an early winter harvest.
* Some tips for growing beans: Do not overwater during their growing period as this can result in the plant focusing on leafy growth, rather than flowering and setting pods. Also, wet feet can lead to root rot, and plants becoming lazy, which means you will experience bad crops.
Adding colour to your garden
Add seedling trays of annual/biannual salvia, celosia, marigolds and perennial portulacas for some colour during this hot month. Also purchase and plant Salvia greggii, hemerocallis (daylilies) and angelonias for some heat-tolerant perennial colour. An interesting fact is that daylily flowers are edible, but please make sure not to feast on any that have been sprayed with poisons.