Many gardeners dread the summer months. But rather than moan about the heat, use it as an incentive to get up early and enjoy the best part of the day in your garden.

Summer is much more than keeping plants alive through the heatwaves. Tender plants can be covered with shadecloth, vegie beds will need a shade canopy of 20 per cent shadecloth to prevent them from bolting to seed and pots may need watering twice a day once temperatures rise above 38C. Top all birdbaths up with water every day; they will need to bathe and drink regularly.

There are loads of summer fruits that will be ripe for the picking, some light pruning to be done, mulching and planting up pots with vibrant annuals and pest watch. Figs, pomegranates, apples, nectarines, peaches, apricots, elderberries, mangos, avocados, bananas, lychees, mulberries, star fruit, pawpaws, macadamias and custard apples are harvested during the hot months and fill our fruit bowls with the best of the season. All these trees will need deep watering to give the best fruit.

Harvest as fruit ripens, as the sugars develop in the latter stages. This doesn’t apply to fruit that doesn’t ripen on the tree, such as avocado — it’s a case of pick some, leave them indoors for a few days and see how they ripen. You won’t be able to keep up with the mulberries but rake the fallen ones off the ground every day and bin them in plastic bags.

Watering should be done early in the morning; check to make sure the soil is damp to a depth of at least 10cm. If not, apply a wetting agent and water it in really well; the evaporation rate in summer is high. Check to see that your mulch is allowing the water to go through to the ground, not soaking water up or preventing penetration.

Summer is actually a great time to take tip cuttings from your favourite plants. Propagate herbs such as rosemary, lavender, mint, thyme and basil and pot them up. Many natives, such as grevillea, kunzia, correa, alyogyne, callistemon, hibbertia, melaleuca, olearia and pimelea can be propagated now by tip cuttings. Use a free-draining propagation mix and keep them damp but not too wet.

Plant now: Cucumber, watermelon, zucchini, chilli, eggplant and ginger. 


© The West Australian

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