Tis the season for craziness as we edge closer to the end of the year. Deadlines loom, Christmas celebrations begin and by the 30th of December, we crumple into an exhausted heap. Before you plan to spend your summer break lazing about on a daybed in between dips in the pool, flag some of these summer gardening jobs. Good preparation will help your garden survive the harsh summer weather and allow you more time to relax into the new year.

Summer gardening jobs

Mulch your soil

If your time is limited and you want to keep your summer gardening job list short, prioritise mulching your soil. It’s the easiest ways you can protect your plants from the summer heat. Mulching helps keep the soil cool, conserves water and limits any fertiliser from being washed away by the summer rains. To maximise the potential of your mulch, make sure your soil is moist and light by giving it a good turn with a fork. This will help create air and insulate your plant roots.

Prune the spring growth

As the spring growth of your hedges and shrubs slows, it’s a good time to give your plants a light prune to tidy them up. This will mean you won’t have to cut them back again until autumn when they have their next burst of new growth. While you have your secateurs in hand, de-head any flowers that are looking a little tired to promote continued flowering throughout the season.

Keep your potted plants cool

Another important one for your summer gardening list is to soak your potted plants. Pot plants are vulnerable to overheating as they can quickly dry out. Smaller pots can be placed in a bucket of water and left to soak for a few hours. A light mulch will also help keep your plants cool as well as moving them out of the direction of the hot sun.

Nourish your plants

Feeding your plants to correct any mineral deficiencies can be beneficial especially if you’re not able to water regularly.  A quality fertiliser and seaweed can do wonders for your plant health and encourage strong growth. If you have some worm castings, this will also help nourish your plants and soil.

Keep your lawns long

Avoid mowing your lawns too short this summer. This will help keep your lawns looking green rather than brown and bare. It will also help suppress unsightly weed growth. Set your mower as high as possible and once a month, consider applying a seaweed solution. If you’re hosting an outdoor Christmas party, do this now to avoid that subtle odour of seaweed.

Water early

To avoid mildew and the plants stewing, water early in the day when it’s cool. This will also help reduce the risks of fungi attacking the foliage. Depending on the weather, you may also need to give your plants a light spray in the early evening too.

What to plant in December

If your vegetable patch is looking a little bare, there are plenty of herbs and vegetables you can put into your garden in December. Here are just a few to get you started:

Warm temperate zones – sow summer crops such as tomatoes, lettuce, capsicums, zucchini, basil, or amaranth.

Cool temperate zones – tomatoes, chilli, capsicum, climbing beans, pumpkin, cucumber and herbs like thyme, rosemary and dill can all be planted now.

Semi-arid zones – steer clear of leafy vegetables and opt for more hardy varieties such as eggplant, pumpkin, chilli and watermelon.

Subtropic zones – all of the summer varieties are suitable.

Topical zones – sow crops of sweet potato, snake beans, sweet corn and lemongrass.

If you are planting in the warmer weather, remember to protect your seedlings and leafy plants with shade cloth and turn on your irrigation.