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3rdWith a less than an average monsoon on the cards – if the weather pundits are correct – traditional summer sowing of thirsty winter annuals should be approached with a great deal of caution.

This year’s summer planting schedule should, if you are going to be water wise, include drought-tolerant perennials (put a wide variety of yuccas, succulents and cacti on the list) of all sizes depending, of course, on the available space.

Avoid adding imported ‘exotics’ – especially those originating from tropical countries such as Malaysia and Thailand; these need lots of water, often on a daily basis, if they are to thrive.

Most purely ornamental plants do perfectly well on a diet of recycled household water, providing that your use of chemicals is kept to the bare minimum. Leafy vegetables – arugula/rocket, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, leaf beet, spinach and Swiss chard – are happy with recycled water but root vegetables and fruit – including tomatoes and melons – which contain a high percentage of water, should only be given recycled water once in a while rather than on a regular basis as any impurities present in the water build up and remain in the roots and fruit.

Seeds for summer sowing can all go in now: keep the seed trays and pots in a partially shaded location, protected from heavy rain – if it does arrive. Vegetable and herb seeds to sow over the summer and into early autumn can include beetroot, broccoli, chives, celery, carrots, coriander, chillies, nasturtiums, radish and spring onions. On the flower front, the following can all be sown over the next few weeks: begonias, carnations, cineraria, dahlias, geraniums, hollyhocks, petunias, phlox, salvia, statice – and lots of antirrhinums!

Keep your eyes on your local seed suppliers for any new varieties of seed and do not be afraid to give them a try.

– B Khan

First published in the ADBUZZZZ Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on August 24, 2014.