There is plenty to do in the garden on a beautiful summers evening!

Summer’s weather extremes persist right through February, which may be just hot, or hot and humid with storms, or hot and dry with bushfire threat.

Whatever the weather, the garden is the place to stay cool sitting on a lush lawn or relaxing under a shady tree. The long days and cool evenings encourage outdoor eating and allow extra time to enjoy working in the garden. If you’ve had a hard day, unwind with a spot of end-of-the-day watering, harvesting or deadheading. Keep on providing regular water, fertiliser and maintenance to encourage plants to keep blooming and fruiting over the months ahead.

What to do in your garden in February 2023

Hot weather plant protection

For many areas, summer started off mild, but now summer heat has hit. If a late burst of hot weather is forecast, it’s important to protect vulnerable plants from heat damage.  Tick off a few of our tips to keep your plants cool.

  1. Cover new or tender plantings with shadecloth if there’s hot weather coming.
  2. Water the garden well the day before the heat arrives and again in the cool hours of the morning if time permits.
  3. Take down hanging baskets and group pot plants together in a cool, shaded spot. Indoors, move plants away from windows, or draw window coverings.
  4. Water everything well. Regular weekly applications of Seasol help boost plant resilience and can also help plants recover after heat damage.

Safe summer refuge for wildlife

On hot days, our gardens are not only refuges for people; they are also important places for wildlife to rest and rehydrate. With areas of natural bushland under threat from urban growth as well as natural disasters, green corridors offered by gardens are important not only to provide food, water and shelter to wildlife but also to help when extreme weather hits.

Shady trees and green surfaces, whether shrubs, lawn or other groundcover plants, reduce the extremes of summer temperatures, soak up excess water from deluges and give shelter from winds. Keep an accessible birdbath filled with clean water and positioned so birds can feel safe when they visit for a wash or a drink. Put a bowl of water under the protection of a tree or shrub so that lizards and insects have a place to rest, drink and recover from summer heat.

What to do in your garden in February 2023
What to do in your garden in February 2023

Vegetables to start this month.

As some vegetables wind down after a long, productive summer, it’s time to get the garden ready for autumn and winter crops including brassicas.

Remove spent plants and weedy growth then rejuvenate tired soils with compost and manure and/or Seasol Super Compost, which can be dug into the soil. Where digging is difficult use a liquid no-dig option such as Seasol Liquid Compost. Replenish mulches.

Allow the prepared soil to rest while you sow seeds in punnets or seed trays ready to plant out in autumn. Top choices for sowing now include broccoli, brussels sprouts, beetroot, cabbage, kale and turnips.

When sowing seeds get them off to a flying start with a premium seed raising mix such as Seasol Seed Raising & Cutting Potting Mix. Remember to water them in with Seasol for improved seed germination. Ensure the soil stays moist by checking it daily and watering whenever necessary.

Tricking fruit fly

Fruit fly are pest insects that are abundant in late summer in many parts of Australia. Their population peaks in late summer just as tomatoes, capsicum and stone fruit begin to ripen. Protect fruit with fruit fly splash baits that attract female fruit flies away from ripening fruit. Other traps (Dak.pots) attract male fruit flies.

Tomatoes are particularly vulnerable to fruit fly. They can be protected if they are picked as they begin to ripen before the skin softens enough for the female fruit fly to sting and lay eggs. Pick tomatoes when they are large and beginning to change colour from green to pink cutting the fruit from the plant with a little bit of green stem attached. Set the fruit on the kitchen bench or in a fruit bowl and watch your tomatoes ripen indoors without any pests.

Check out our fruit fly guide for more information.

Five important jobs for late summer

  1. Pick vegetables daily. Hunt among foliage for vegetables that are concealed by leafy growth. Cucumbers, zucchini, squash and beans become large and seedy if not picked while they are small and succulent. Liquid feed weekly with PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables to keep vegie plants producing and the soil healthy.
  2. Continue deadheading summer-flowering plants, particularly roses, dahlias, agapanthus and petunias. This prevents seeding and encourages longer flowering for repeat-flowering plants.
  3. Keep up water. If plants are wilting, don’t wait for sunset before watering. Head out with the hose, watering can or a jug of water to revive very heat-stressed plants.
  4. When watering, check that the water is going down into the soil. If it has dried out due to summer heat, water may be running off or pooling on top of it. This is known as hydrophobic soil (repelling water). A soil wetter such as Seasol Super Soil Wetter & Conditioner will help to overcome this.
  5. Clean up the mess. Long weedy areas, piles of material that’s supposed to go to the tip, timber and other material can be a hazard in the backyard. Not just a fire hazard but also a haven for snakes and spiders and a conduit for termites to enter your house or outbuildings. Keep weedy areas mown or ‘whipper-snippered’ and sort out what needs to be kept and stored (in a shed) and what can be headed to the tip or recycler. Don’t store wood or mulch near buildings.
What to do in your garden in February 2023

Liliums – a stunning summer flower

Liliums are star plants in summer gardens due to their tall stems, large trumpet flowers and perfume. White and light pink varieties glow on warm moonlit nights adding another dimension to the summer garden.

Plant liliums in clumps as vertical floral accents in late winter through spring for displays in the summer garden. They do especially well in deep rich soil in a sunny spot that’s protected from strong winds. The large bulbs are available for planting in spring but look for potted plants in flower now at garden centres to get instant flowers.

Tall varieties reach 1.5m-2m high and in subsequent years get taller as the bulbs become better established. Plants can tower above head height. Where space is tight, liliums can also be grown in containers. Select small-growing varieties for pots or choose a deep, heavy pot (such as a terracotta pot) for stability if growing tall varieties. After flowering, cut back the stem as it dies down.

To keep your liliums looking good through the summer months, apply PowerFeed PRO SERIES Roses & Flowers regularly every fortnight. Continue to apply after flowering has finished to promote flowering for the following season.

Figs – tasty summer fruits.

Figs are dripping with fruit and their sweet soft flesh is a favourite of many. There is nothing more rewarding than eating a juicy fig straight from a tree. They are the ideal fruit tree for a Mediterranean climate as they relish the long hot dry summers experienced in southern and inland Australia. In cold areas where crops are slow to ripen, grow figs against a warm, north-facing wall to maximise warmth and improve ripening. Although figs grow best in a Mediterranean climate they also flourish in humid climates.

Where space is restricted, figs can be espaliered against a sunny wall for example in a courtyard. Compact and dwarf trees are now available that suit small spaces and are perfect for pots. Remember to keep the water up in summer, to keep the tree producing especially if in a pot.

Check out our guide for growing figs for more tips.

What to do in your garden in February 2023