In The Garden: February

21-Jan-2018

February - We are now in the midst of the hottest time of the year... which may be scary based on the few weekends we had in January!

Disease control

Each season seems to have certain plant diseases that are specific to it.

Summer and its combination of warm to hot days, dewy or rainy nights, fruit and vegetables reaching harvest stage and the main flush of flowering  - all sorts of things can happen.
Plants which are grown correctly are more resistant to disease.
Like us, they react to poor living conditions, overfeeding - especially with the wrong food - and other forms of mistreatment, by getting sick.

Many plant disease are spread by insect pests which often live among the weeds.
A garden where weeds are pretty much non existent or kept under control means less disease.

Some diseases are caused through neglect or inconsistency on our part.
Inconsistent watering causing fruit to split is a prime example.
To stop this and other disease related to inconsistent watering, water the plants deeply and mulch.
In the edible garden patch, mulch with a sugar cane mulch or similar.
This will stop the ground from drying out as quickly.

Another disease to keep an eye out for at this time of year is mildew - including powdery mildew and rust.
Some of the Plants that are more susceptible are: Cucumber, Melons, Marrows, Pumpkins, Roses, Gooseberries.
Growing conditions influence this disease - if the plants are overshadowed or the air too stagnant, then mildew can run riot.

Pruning and sprays are the main solutions.

It is important to do regular soil ph tests in your vege garden; especially now with recent rain as a lot of nutrients may have been leached out.
Plants do not grow well outside the range of 4.5 - 8.

Planning to plant - Planting

Ornamental

Annual and perennial blooming plants will respond well to regular doses of weak liquid fertilisers.

This will supply them with additional nourishment required to sustain them.
Remove all blooms as they start to fade - remember this will help keep the plant flowering for longer.

Chrysanthemums

  • should have leading shoots pinched out - results will be the plant branching out more below area pinched to.

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  • This should also result in the plant being more stable and wind resistant and hence produce more blooms when flowering.


Spring bulbs

  • Lift old, established clumps of bulbs which failed to flower for division and replanting.

  • Now is the time to plant bulbs to enjoy their blooms in late winter or spring.

  •  Remember most bulbs look better when mass planted -either in pots or in the ground.

If you like bulbs but think they are only suitable for cooler climates consider these:

Babiana, Dutch Iris, Freesia, Gladioli, Hippeastrum

Native and Exotic.

perfect for now...

  • Ageratum/Amaranthus, Alyssum, Anemone/Aquilegia(Buttercup Family - Columbines), Antirrhinum(Snapdragon and their family),

  • Arctotis(Aurora Daisy, African Daisy ), Aster(and the aster family) Carnation, Celosia(Woolflowers/ Cockscombs), Chrysanthemum,

  • Cineraria, Coleus, Cornflower, Cosmos, Dahlia, Delphinium, Dianthus, Freesia, Gazania, Gypsophila(Baby's breath), Hollyhock,

  • Impatiens, Lathyrus(Sweet Pea), Lilium, Lobelia,Lupin, Marigold (African & French), Myosotis( Forget Me Not), Nasturtium,

  • Pansy, Polyanthus, Penstemon, Petunia, Phlox, Poppy(Iceland ,Oriental), Stock, Verbena, Viola

Natives

If you have planted out natives in the last 6 months, you will notice most have been through a tremendous growth spurt.
Do not be tempted to try and stake them.  Most Australian plants should not be staked, as this treatment weakens them.
While it may be hard to follow through and action, the best way to keep fast growing natives stable, is to prune them back by approximately a third.
Remember if they were growing naturally in the bush / scrub the wildlife would be nibbling at them.

Edible

Apply liquid Fertiliser to tomatoes, capsicums, lettuce, brassica, sweetcorn, silver-beet, cucumbers

(e) this is the last month to plant out and achieve best results

(p) there will be another chance next month to get it in the ground.

          (b) this is the beginning of the season so in general we will have a bit of time.

(su) start undercover in seed trays before transplanting to garden

(t) transplant seedlings to beds
 

Timely planting this month can result in a great crop during winter and spring.

  • Beans (Pole, Runner & Scarlet as well as Dwarf, French & Bush), Beetroot, Broccoli, Cape Gooseberry, Capsicum, Carrots(b), Chilli(p), Chives,

  • Cucumber(p), Eggplant(p/e), Leeks, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Okra, Onion(su), Oregano, Parsley, Pumpkin(e),

  • Radish, Rosella(p), Shallots (Eschallots) Silver-beet (Swiss Chard), Squash(e), Sunflower, Swedes, Sweet Corn(p), Turnips, Zucchini(e)

Before planting out seedlings be sure to dig in a good organic fertiliser such as Organic Xtra.
Once seedlings are established be sure to keep nutrients up by using a liquid feed such as Searles Fish & Kelp. A good time frame for this would be each 2 weeks.
Mulch the vege bed with sugar cane mulch - this well help to retain moisture and keep your medium more consistent for the growth and return of your vege crop.

Other

Houseplants

Trim and tidy regularly removing weak or dead growth.
At this time of year they should be at their best and will respond brilliantly if you get into good feeding and watering practices.
Majority must be kept out of direct sunshine to avoid the possibility of sunburn, exceptions are:

  • Cacti and Succulents, Pelagoniums, Hippeastrum and Kalanchoe as all of these love full sun.

Houseplants love humidity.
While we may think there is adequate around, if your plants are not looking their best,  you may need to spray them or remember the option to place on trays / saucers of wet pebbles to create humid air around them.
This will help leaves to bathe, letting them thrive.

Roses

To avoid black spot, use drip irrigation rather than sprinklers or other methods which wet the Rose leaves

Lawns

Mow lawns as regularly as possible - this in itself will help keep weeds to a minimum and lawn growth steady.
Remember not to cut too low, give roots a chance to go deep and lawns a better chance of survival if we have a dry patch.
Remove no more than a third in any mow unless you are going for a dethatch and then go with the advice given for that.

Citrus / Fruit

Water fruit trees consistently to prevent possibility of fruit splitting.
With Citrus, feed after watering - use a blood and bone or aged manure.
Make sure Stone fruit are fully ripe before harvesting as unlike apples and pears they will not sweeten up after being picked - so unless you are going to bottle  - leave them until they are ripe.


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