December in South Africa is our full blown summer month with long hot days, heavy summer rains in the summer rainfall areas, and no rain at all in the winter rainfall regions. It can be quite a challenging month in the garden as garden pests have had an opportunity to proliferate, sweltering conditions can cause plants to wither or bolt, and water is a scarce resource in many parts of the country. However, the summer months present a great opportunity to catch up on your garden maintenance- Fix the broken hinge on the shed, paint your greenhouse, repair your cold frame and straighten up your pathways and bed borders. It’s also a good time to plan ahead. Spend time outside reading up on what to plant in the coming months.
It can be a slow time for planting out due to the heat, but as the months move on you can start thinking about planning your autumn crops. That said, your summer garden can be very productive if planted right, watered well, and offered protection from too much sun. Erect a simple shade netting over your garden to protect heat sensitive plants from the heat of the day. Mulch your garden well to conserve moisture and water in the very early mornings or late afternoons to reduce evaporation loses. It’s also a good time to propagate cuttings, feed your garden, pruning dead branches and removing spent plants.
You can harvest tomatoes daily as they ripen, as well as cucumbers, courgettes and potatoes. Transplant cabbage, cauliflower, beets and spinach into the ground and sow beetroots, broccoli, carrots, onions and lettuces directly into the soil.