In the Garden: January

26-Dec-2018

If you started heavy watering and mulching in the Garden in December - continue with that practice through January.
If not - consider starting now - the sooner the garden has heavy watering and is mulched the better - it will reduce time and worry later.

Until Easter we have a long hot period to get our plants through, this means in most parts of the garden, excellent growing conditions.

Plants most at risk in the garden - especially if going away at this time of year include:

  • Azaleas, Boronias, Camellias, Citrus, Conifers(small or miniature) Daphnes,Rhododendrons and recently planted trees or shrubs.

All mentioned have either shallow roots or not yet formed root-system.

Deep, heavy watering will keep them going for up to 10 days - no more.

Going away for 3 weeks or more?   

 Solution: Lots of water, thick mulch and more water to saturate fresh mulch.

Pests and Diseases

Warm temperatures and heavy rain can favour powdery mildew in plants like cucumbers and zucchinis.

As soon as the leaves start to go dull and grey remove them from the affected plant and dispose of. Then use a derris dust to help prevent it reoccurring.

Grasshoppers and caterpillars are about, so either try and catch and dispose of them in the early mornings when they are not so active or use  a spray such as David Greys Carbaryl or Yates Dipel.

Cycads are beginning to have new leaf growth; which needs to be sprayed with Carbaryl to stop the moths and grubs from eating the new leaves.

Pruning

Prune roses to remove spent blooms.

Snap off withered flower trusses from rhododendron and lilac plants, in fact, deadhead all flowering plants as soon as the bloom is spent.

Pinch out the growing tips of chrysanthemums and remove seed pods of any plant that you will not require the seed from for later sowing.
These actions will ensure the blooms keep coming for as long as possible.

Prune plants such as gardenia and azaleas after flowering then feed with liquid fertilizers.
Other shrubs just need tip pruning.

For large trees or shrubs only prune dead or diseased branches as the hot weather and humidity can encourage fungal infections to take hold.
Major pruning should be done in the cooler months; however, trees and shrubs that have become a problem because of size can be pruned, if you choose to please be aware of the following.
Summer pruning or lopping prevents the plant storing reserves of food prior to winter - meaning the eruption of new growth that happens in spring, after a winter pruning, will not happen to the same extent.

Raspberry, currant, bramble and gooseberry bushes would benefit from a prune now which will be more valuable to the plant than waiting until winter.
Cut  canes that bore fruit to the ground.
Retie new ones in loose bundle and secure to wire or trellis.
Remove all pruned pieces and either burn or take to the tip.

Once complete mulch with a straw or sugar cane mulch mixed with animal manure and deeply water.

This will assist with an excellent crop next season.

Planning to plant - Planting

Clear trash from Beans and Peas to prepare soil for winter brassicas.

Mulch Tomatoes and Sweet corn.

Young trees can be seriously stunted by competitive weeds and long grass.
With each rainfall or watering, grassweeds snap up water first, a slashing back of surrounding weeds /grass left to lie does help.
If, however, a thick layer of mulch such as sugar cane, lucerne or straw is spread on top of weeds(even without cutting them down)
this will not only smother them but as they die they will add nutrients to the mulch and soil.

Ornamental

With bulbs - remember it is safe to start lifting them as the foliage goes yellow. If you have daffodils and Jonquils you do not need to lift unless they are overcrowded.

Native and Exotic.
  • Acrolinium( Strawflower / Paper Daisy), Alyssum, Amaranthus, Antirrhinum(Snapdragon and their family), Aquilegia (Buttercup Family - Columbines), Arctotis(Aurora Daisy, African Daisy ),Aster (and the aster family )

  •  Balsam, English Daisy( Bellis Perennis), 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, Oriental Poppy, Portulaca,

  • Rudbeckia(Black Eyed Susan),Salvia, Statice, Stock, Verbena, Vinca, Violet, Viola, Zinnia

Edible

 

  • (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.

Apply liquid manure, blood and bone or soil improver to all parts of the vegetable garden and water in well.

  • Basil, Beetroot, Cape Gooseberry, Capsicum, Chilli, Chives, Climbing Beans(Pole/Runner), Cucumber

  • Dwarf(French/Bush) Beans, Eggplant, French Tarragon, Kohlrabi, Lemongrass, Lettuce(including loose leaf varieties)

  • Marrow, Mustard Greens, Okra, Oregano, Pumpkin(p), Radish, Rockmelon(e), Rosella, Silverbeet(Swiss Chard)

  • Squash(p), Sunflower, Swedes(b), Sweet Corn, Tomato, Turnips,  Warrigal greens (or even try Ceylon spinach), Watermelon(e), Zucchini(p)

As the warmer weather begins a lot of gardening activities need to be done early in the morning or late afternoon.

You need to keep the vegetable patch well watered (as restrictions allow) at regular intervals and mulched with Sugar cane or Lucerne to help prevent the beds drying out too quickly.

If they do dry out too much plants can "bolt" (run to seed) or produce small and bitter fruit.

Everything is growing fast at this time of the year and regular feeding is needed to keep them in perfect health.
A liquid fertilizer such as Searle's Fish and Kelp or Seaweed Solution will help promote growth.
Organic manures can also be used such as Searle's 5 in 1.

Tomatoes

If your tomatoes are getting grubs in the fruit, dust regularly with products like Yates tomato dusts to stop this.

Other
Outdoor potted plants

Outdoor plants in containers, including hanging plants, except cacti and succulents, will need to be watered twice daily during the warm weather of this season.
Be mindful not to be be complacent with big tubs in the open as even heavy rain will not be enough to sustain them - such small amounts of rain actually fall in the containers that you will still need to maintain watering routines.

Houseplants

Bring vulnerable foliage plants in from sunny windows.
Mist leaves, more so ferns, several times per day.
For plants that like humid conditions (African Violets, Palms and others), remember the option to place on trays/ saucers of wet pebbles.

If going away for any length of time during this season take some precautions before leaving to help your beloved houseplants survive.
Besides moving away from windows, water well, allow to drain and place in a group in a shaded room.
If you have watered them well they should remain moist for nearly a week.

If going away longer than a week then the bathroom would be the ideal storage place.
Pop the most vulnerable in the bathtub, lined with wads of saturated newspaper. Group the plants close togeher on top of this.
To get the newspaper nicely wet; once having lined the tub and grouping the pots, run the water into the plugged bath until reaches approximately halfway up the smallest pot.
Leave for half an hour, remove plug and allow to drain fully.
Do not under any circumstances be tempted to leave water or plug in bath while away - if there is even the slightest leak/drip you may come home to find more of a disaster than a few wilted or dead plants.

Afterwards the used newsprint can be used outside - either in the vegetable garden or mixed in with the lawn clippings to break down.

Roses

Prune to remove spent flower heads as well as any leaves showing black spot.
Spray roses now to help prevent black spot. Use your preferred treatment method to keep under control.
If unsure refer to our article Roses- treating Black Spot

Lawns

A well fed, bright green lawn makes any garden look good.
This is a crucial time when it comes to lawn care, the first flush of spring growth is starting to slow down and food in the soil is being depleted.
The effect of this will not show for some time and when it does it is then a game of catch up to regain the lush look.
When fertilising remember it must be applied to moist lawn - if it is applied to dry lawn serious damage will occur causing the grass to burn.
If possible water the grass thoroughly the day before fertilising.
Slow acting fertilisers are best as the will give results over many weeks. They gradually sink down deep into the soil and encourage the roots to follow.
Resulting with the ability to resist drying effects of sun and wind more effectively.
Once applied you must water again to wash residue from the leaves and settle towards roots.

Raise mower blades.

The grass is growing quite fast at this time of year, if possible try and cut each week to between 25mm - 40mm.
If you go lower than this you can scalp the lawn which then leaves a bare patch for weeds to establish.

The depth grass roots can achieve is dictated by quantity of grass leaf exposed to sun.
Short grass - shallow roots.

Longer grass may still look short as has been evenly cut - however - it will definitely have a deeper root system allowing it to remain greener for longer.

If weeds do occur we have a wide range of weedkillers for all types of lawn including buffalo.
To keep the lawn green and lush use a fertilizer such as Eco 88.
If you do have bare patches we can provide turf for quick results or lawn seed in various pack sizes.

Watering lawn

From January onwards this must be done vigilantly as once soil becomes dry it is hard for water to penetrate causing run off from the surface.
This is particularly noticeable if you have any form of slope. Once you see your watering having this effect you must turn off the taps so as not to waste water.
Short bursts of watering will then be needed to allow water to get down below roots and soak into the subsoil - subsequent watering will then penetrate.
Even with water restrictions do be mindful to try not to let lawn dry out no matter how green it may appear.

Citrus / Fruit

Lemons and other citrus require care at  this time of year.
Newly planted?  
Citrus should not be allowed to bear fruit for first two - three years.
Be strong and remove blooms or fruit as they form.
This will ensure that the tree is prepared and strong to handle good crops during its life.

The demand for moisture and nutrients needs to be met, otherwise the health will suffer and disease strike.
Improved fruit yield is a bonus if the right care is given now.

Most important is plenty of consistent water - the roots will be taking in more moisture as the leaves release vapour in an effort to cope with our long hot days.

Love your citrus - or the crop it gives you? - Give it the gift of a long, deep soaking around the roots.

Repeat at weekly intervals for better results.

Feed - using a slow acting fertiliser - in the area of the drip line - ensuring to water to help soak in.

Prune any dead or weak, twiggy growth.

Keep an eye out for scale or citrus aphids and treat accordingly.


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