Summer brings it's challenges to all gardeners across Australia. Mr Fothergill's provides expert garden advice to help you manage your plants through the Aussie Summer.

December

strawberry harvest

The first month of Summer is the perfect time to harvest your Summer vegetables and strawberries. By harvesting regularly you’ll end up stimulating ongoing crops throughout the Summer season. To ensure an abundant crop development make sure you keep your vegetables well hydrated and fed. For example, leaf crops such as lettuce, require extra attention as it can lead to a bitter taste if allowed to stress and dry out.

zinnia

If you're looking to inject splashes of colour during Summer then sowing classic cottage flowers are the way to go. These varieties include Asters, Cosmos, Foxglove, Hollyhock, Poppies and Zinnias. If you sow these favourites in the early new year, you’ll be sure to see them bloom in the late Summer to early Autumn period.

tomatoes

For Summer vegetables stick to Sweet Corns, Tomatoes, Beans and Squash. This combination copes well with heat as long as they are watered regularly and planted in well-prepared soil with thick mulch. What mulching will do is keep the plant’s root system cool while adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil as it rots.

January

watering can

January can be very hot and humid in many parts of Australia, so be clever about what you do and when you do it. Garden in the morning when it’s a bit cooler, and water your plants in preparation for the day’s heat. Watering in the morning will allow the leaves and stems to dry out during the day, minimising the risk of diseases harbouring in the moisture.

lavender

January is also the time to trim your Summer flowering Lavender, Sage, Thyme and Rosemary. You’ll also need to cut back perennials such as Daisies and Salvias for more blooms in the Autumn.

marigold flower

Amaranthus, Gazania, Marigold, Portulaca, Zinnia and Australian Wildflowers. These are your top picks for planting in January. You can pot up seedlings into 100mm pots prior to planting out or use our Jiffy peat pots to limit transplant shock. The bigger root systems that develop will enable the plants to cope better with the heat. You can also think ahead and plant Autumn flowering bulbs such as Belladonna, Autumn Crocus and Nerines.

You’ll be able to plant late Summer crops of Carrot, Beetroot, Radish, Beans, Sweet corn, Silverbeet, Asian Greens, Capsicums and Tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are a good choice as these ripen faster and will be ready to harvest before the cold weather sets in. For a constant supply of fresh salad through the Summer and Autumn seasons, keep planting leafy greens every couple of weeks.

basil

Herbs such as Basil, Mint, Oregano and Thyme require regular picking, as this will keep plants healthy, bushy and productive. If you have a harvest glut, join a swap group, share with friends and neighbours or donate to a local food bank or soup kitchen – don’t let the food go to waste.

February

watering can

February is a month of enjoying the rewards of Spring planted vegetables and flowers. Regularly apply liquid fertiliser to leafy vegetables and flowering annuals to replace nutrients washed away by rain and consumed during this high production period. Keep your annuals and perennials well watered during the hot spells that can really test the resilience of many tender plants. February is also the month to keep on top of any pest and disease infestations that also flourish during the hot and humid Summer months.

prop

While February is typically one of the hottest months of the year, it’s a good time to start your Autumn sowings in seed trays or greenhouses. Make sure you avoid placing these in direct sun during the hottest parts of the day. Sowing now will result in early season blooms and crops!

calendula

Flowers to sow now are Alyssum, Aquilegia, Calendula, Candytuft, Carnation, Delphinium, Larkspur, Pansy, Iceland Poppy, Snapdragon, Stock, Virginian Stock and Viola.

Vegetables to sow now are: Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Celeriac, Leek, Lettuce, Onions, Silverbeet and Spinach.

bulbs

Last but not least for the final month of Summer are your Spring Flowering Bulbs. February is a good time to start your bulb planting so look out for Daffodils, Dutch Irises, Crocus, Hyacinths, Rananculi and Freesias. If you're a Tulip lover then wait till March or April when the soil has cooled down.