It sounds just like the story of Goldilocks when I say “It is Not too Hot and Not to Cold, JUST RIGHT”, so that is what I really enjoy about Autumn Gardening!
After the tremendous drought and heat waves we experienced in Gauteng this summer (42.5 degrees recorded in Pretoria will wither the spirit of the most passionate gardener), the thought of magical temperate days in the Autumn garden are enough to inspire us to action.
Any new design or developments are best done in Autumn as the newly planted garden will establish most successfully between the scorching heat of summer and be strong and robust by the time the winter chill arrives. Roots have time to regrow and take up the nutrients and water needed to feed and cool the plant optimally in the first few weeks. This minimizes planting stress which in hot weather often results in a loss of plants and a dejected gardener!
I noticed that the colours of flowering shrubs, like the Just Joey roses popped from a pale yellow orange in the hot season to a deep peachy hue, and the scents of flowers and shrubs just magnify with the reduced intensity of the sun’s rays in the cool seasons.
So let’s get planting, feeding, and collecting Autumn leaves to make mulch and compost in this time of plenty to be ready for a wonderful winter season.
FERTILIZER FACTS FOR COOL SEASON GARDENS
1. Q: CAN I FERTILIZE MY GARDEN IN WINTER?
A: The old fashioned gardener was taught that you cannot fertilize your garden with fast-release, chemical fertilizer in the cooler months. But this is old technology so VITA organic fertilizers can be applied any time of the year. The scientific explanation made simple is that water-soluble, fast release chemical fertilizer is salt based so nutrient uptake is by osmosis which requires a capillary action to move the high concentration of nutrients from the water in the soil through the roots to all parts of the plant. Cool weather reduces the transpiration from the leaf surface which reduces the circulation of plant sap so plant tissue can be scarred or damaged as a result. VITA organic fertilizer do not contain salts so nutrients are mostly released by microbial soil life, which naturally adjusts release in cool soils when plant growth slows.
2. Q: HOW CAN I PROTECT PLANTS IN FROSTY CONDITIONS?
A: Although Kikuyu lawns might get a heavy frosting around May or June which could cause a dormancy in cold areas, many of our favourites plants only flourish in cooler seasons. So just like we need to eat (sometimes too much in the cold) so plants who are living creatures also need to continue feeding. Potassium is important to ensure strong and hardy cells before the winter season as well as promote lots of flowers so apply VITA FRUIT & FLOWER 3:1:5 in March or April for cool bloomers!
3. Q: WILL MY LEAFY VEGGIES NOT BURN WHEN I APPLY NITROGEN IN AUTUMN OR WINTER?
A: The Nitrogen in VITA Organic Fertilizer is formulated for a sustained release over about 4 months. The Nitrogen sticks to soil particles which acts as a buffet so when the plant needs to take up Nitrogen it can access this nitrogen on demand. Nitrogen in VITA Fertilizers should never burn if applied as per Directions. Go ahead and feed leafy greens and herbs with Vita Veg 6:3:4 with planting or with Vita Green 5:1:5 as a topdressing after 4 months when required.
4. HOW CAN I GET THE BEST BLOOM FOR MY BUCKS WHEN PLANTING COLOR SEEDLINGS?
The ECO-GREEN Seedling Food is an All-in-One compost and fertilizer ideal for planting winter colour beds, containers or hanging baskets. The 1kg pink packet covers an area of 5m2 and ensures that the blooms continue throughout the winter. Apply more Seedling Food as a topdressing after 3 months to maintain the blooms.