Peas & posies

We dig sugar snap peas, dazzling magenta geraniums and a very special lavender to help August spring towards summer.

Veggie of the month

Heirloom sugar snap pea Cascadia is a cool season vegetable for sowing this month. It produces unusually sweet, crunchy, edible pods which are perfect for eating straight off the bush or adding fresh to salads, but equally delicious steamed, sautéed, or stir-fried. It’s an easy-to-grow vegetable for beginners, is a compact vine type, and has extra disease tolerance to powdery mildew and mosaic virus. The 7cm to 9cm long, dark green pods are a produced in abundance, almost smothering the plant. Be sure to plant it in a position that receives full sun and has well-composted soil. For good germination, soak the seeds overnight before sowing. Space the plants about 20cm apart, and keep the soil moist during germination. Pods should be ready for harvest 60 days from germination. Depending on the garden’s micro-climate, Cascadia can be germinated indoors in seed trays, or sown direct into the soil. Order online from gropak.co.za

This month we’re planting …

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Geranium Marcada in hanging baskets and containers. If, like us, you’re longing for sunshine and summer, Marcada’s dazzling magenta flowers are just the tonic you need. This is a strong-growing, semi-trailing geranium that spreads up to 45cm, spilling flowers prettily over the edges of pots and baskets. It grows and flowers well in cool, as well as hot, conditions and is drought tolerant, needing to be kept drier than other geraniums. Being self-cleaning, the dead flowers drop off easily, so there’s no need to trim. Details: ballstraathof.co.za

Garden tasks for August

Fertilize spring flowering annuals with a liquid fertilizer for flowers.
Increase watering as the temperature rises.
Wait until the last frost has passed before sowing summer annuals and perennials like marigolds, alyssum, cosmos, Californian poppy, gaillardia, sunflowers and zinnias.
Fork compost round summer flowering perennials, fertilize and water well.
Prune winter flowering shrubs and neaten evergreen shrubs with a trim.
Clean and weed pathways, driveways and treat and fix wooden furniture and garden benches.
Sow spring vegetables like lettuce, peas, cabbage, spinach and Swiss chard into trays or small pots and keep them in a warm, sheltered area that’s protected from frost.
Prevent snail and slug damage by using organic snail bait like Ferramol and eradicate aphids with an organic insecticide.

Whether you have a large garden or a tiny apartment, you can (and should) grow herbs. They’re easy to cultivate and it’s hugely rewarding to be able to pick a few fresh leaves to use when you’re cooking.
Jane’s Delicious A-Z of Herbs is a beautifully illustrated, hands-on guide to growing and using herbs. There’s info on more than 80 of them … planting and growing, medicinal and culinary uses, as well as healing properties. Sunbird Publishers, R292 from Exclusive Books.

Our indoor plant for August …

While it’s still nippy outdoors, enjoy the spring fragrance of Lavandula Stoechas indoors. Besides being very pretty, the scent is also a natural stress reliever … so whenever you walk past the plant, rub its leaves to release the delightful fragrance. Stoechas flowers are unlike other lavenders. The bracts on top of each bloom resemble bunny ears, or the open wings of a butterfly. Grown indoors, Stoechas lavender needs bright light and can take some morning sun. Let the soil dry out moderately between watering and snip off dead flowers to encourage more. In warm, bright conditions, such as a patio or living area, it may flower for up to three months. After flowering, you can lightly trim it, then plant in the garden – choose a spot that receives full sun and has soil that drains well. Details: plantimex.co.za

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