In the Garden: May18-Apr-2015
Chrysanthemums and other perennials which are still developing blooms - Keep water up to them.
A weak liquid fertiliser after watering, around those about to bloom, will make a big difference to quality and size of flowers.
Best way to make gardening easier is to mulch the surface of the soil between and around plants.
Most common mulching materials are shredded bark, wood chips, old straw- hay, seaweed, leaves, sugar cane mulch and sawdust.
Mulch should always be left to decay on the surface - never dug in. Most of the bacteria which break organic matter down work best closer to surface level.
If they are dug in they can seriously unbalance soil causing nitrogen deficiency.
Mulch can be spread over weeds without digging them out first, even if they are beginning to go to seed.
The warm, moist conditions within and below the mulch can prevent seeds from ripening. If they do germinate they are rarely able to penetrate 10cm thickness of mulch.
If any do poke their heads through it is a simple matter of sliding a garden fork below, gently lifting the matted mass high enough to clear the weeds and replacing the mulch on top of the weed.
After 2-3 "lifts" like this the weeds become too weak to try again and are smothered and break down into the mulch.
Hydrangeas - As soon as the blooms look a bit weathered, simply remove all thick, old branches to the ground.
Most plants that have flowered recently are fine to be pruned now.
Do be mindful to use correct / appropriate tools when pruning. While it surprising how tough plants can be in recovering from a poor pruning job you don't want to run an increased risk in losing them.
Protective clothing, especially for us, is very important, as if you injure your hands it will restrict even the simplest of jobs.
Flexible glove are best - those that allow you to use fingers easily - thick heavy gloves are more likely to be a hindrance and you are more likely to take them off.
Carpenters saws are not designed the same way as a pruning saw and they are likely to become clogged with sap if you do try to use them.
Planning to plant
Lime beds as required:
Soils that are cleared for spring planting and left fallow through winter can become sour and, if in a slow draining area, difficult to cultivate.
This can result in essential soil bacteria being reduced or non existent meaning a poor start to the growing season.
To help soil achieve its full growing potential, now is the perfect time to do something about it - easy and cheap with brilliant results.
Calcium in the form of lime, limestone or dolomite should applied to the surface of the soil in most parts of the garden now.
Only areas where certain plants dislike lime should be left and NOT limed.
Ornamental such as:
Azaleas, Camellias, Ericas, Rhododendrons
MOST Australian Natives.
Most important area/s for applying lime is the Vegetable Garden and an annual application for Fruit trees, especially stone fruit.
Lime is not a fertiliser, but rather a means, by which certain essential elements can be made accessible to be absorbed into the plants.
In conjunction with fertilisers, Lime allows soil to break down organic matter more efficiently and plants to reach a better growth rate.
Depending on the form you use will determine how much to apply.
Dolomite is a form of limestone that contains magnesium as well as calcium and is the most valuable way to reduce acidity.
It is available to the plants slower than straight lime / limestone and is therefore safe to use with fertilisers as well as remaining in the soil longer.
Application rates will be found on product of choice.
Alyssum, Anemone/Aquilegia(Buttercup Family - Columbines), Arctotis(Aurora Daisy, African Daisy, Shasta)
Carnation, Cineraria, Cornflower,Delphinium, Dianthus,Freesia,Gypsophila(Baby's breath), Hollyhock,Lobelia,Lupin,
Myosotis( Forget Me Not), Nasturtium,Pansy, Penstemon, Polyanthus, Poppy(Iceland ,Oriental), Ranunculus, Stock,Sweet William, Spring Bulb
Native and Exotic.
Natives prefer a soil that is slightly acid, so refrain from using lime in beds where you plan to put your natives. Keep in mind too in a new house that mortar and cement mixed during construction can also impact soil pH.
Many native plants, especially Banksia, Eucalypts, Grevilleas, Wattles develop an extensive root sytem at a young age - anywhere up to a metre.
These roots are brittle and do not renew easily, explaining why attempts to transplant them to a new location in the home garden are quite often doomed to failure.
It is quite often much better to begin again with a new plant rather than wait for a damaged plant to renew after a transplanting.
Resist the temptation when planting to tie to a stake as they will grow with enormous speed and become top heavy and then on a windy day will snap their stakes and end up badly damaged.
You can by all means drive a stake into the ground near them to help make their presence more visable and avoid accidental damage like being trampled or mowed.
When they grow naturally and are unsupported the result is a sturdier plant.
Also, when grown in the wild the animals will quite often nibble the tender growing tips, if you do not have wildlife visiting you must be prepared, regardless of whether in the ground or in a pot, to give your natives similar treatment.
This will help maintain the plants ability to renew itself.
Harvest Pumpkin before frost strikes: If harvested correctly will keep for a very long time.
The main point to remember is to allow them to remain on the vine as long as possible and be careful about avoiding damage from frosts.
This can be as simple as covering them each night with an old bag or a forkful of sugar cane mulch or straw.
Should you forget to cover each pumpkin and frost strikes they will only last for a few weeks.
(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) 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
Beetroot, Broad beans(p) (Fava Beans), Broccoli(e)(t), Cabbage(p)(t) (including Chinese),Carrot, Cauliflower (p)(t),
Celeriac(p)(t), Celery(p)(t), Chicory/Witlof(p), Chives,Collards(p)(t), Coriander(e), Fennel(e), Garlic(b), Kale(p)(t),
Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mizuna(e), Mustard Greens, Onion, Oregano(e),
Pak Choy(e), Parsley(e)(Flat, Italian or curly), Peas,Radish, Rocket,
Shallots(Eschalots),Silverbeet, Spring Onion, Snow Peas(b),
Strawberries(from seed)(su), Strawerry Plants(e)(p), Swede(p)(Rutabagas), Turnip(e)
Reduce watering. Spray scale pests with white oil solution.
Clear old leaves and other debris from surface of potting soil.
Use weak liquid Fertilisers for flowering plants.
Houseplants can often show signs of nitrogen deficiency - leaves small and pale, general lack of vigour and few new shoots - they can be gently rejuvenated with weak liquid fertilisers or slow release granules
Winter planting is more reliable, prepare the ground now if you are ordering or plan to purchase roses - the bed should be prepared a few months before planning to plant.
Bed should be in a sunny spot and have good drainage. The more sunshine the better but around 4 hours full sunshine a day will help keep them healthy and happy.
Dig well, break clods, remove weeds. Prepare soil using something like Soil Improver or Searles 5 in 1Plus.
Roses prefer soil pH to be 6.5 - 7.5 - if you find your soil acid around pH 5.0 add Dolomite (see above re Lime). Do not apply fertiliser at planting time.
Continue sowing lawns.
Lawns may have been stimulated into another burst of growth as a result of moist, cooler conditions, however it will soon settle into a state of semi dormancy for winter.
This month is actually very good for your first winter feed - allowing the grass to take in ample nutrients to strengthen itself before winter arrives.
The second will be in July allowing it to prepare to be strong and healthy and ready for spring.
Mowing is still of value as it will pick up the leaves, which if left to decay will cause unsightly dead patches.
If you have not done any lawn "renovation" for a period of time, now is a good time to. Before mowing, with a stiff tined grass rake, scratch the surface to bring up matted dead grass.
Then when mowing it will collect most of the loosened matter.
The most common explanation for the appearance of moss is poor drainage.
Excessive moisture close to the surface, which remains for weeks or months, creates ideal conditions for the growth of spongy mosses, usually in the company of daisies.
Drainage is generally the solution, however moss can establish itself in places that are fairly well drained. Most often seen where the soil has become undernourished or impoverished, for example near large trees.
The soil has reached a stage where it is unable to support the growth of grass, so moss fills the gap.
To remove, apply blood and bone over the infested area, topdress with enriched soil and re-sow a more aggressive grass.
A large percentage of moss in lawns is as a result of incorrect grass cutting methods and feeding with highly nitrogenous chemical fertilisers creating an acid soil.
If grass is cut too short moss will eventually make its presence felt - raise mower blades at least 3 centimetres.
Apply lime to sweeten soil and make unattractive to moss.
Certain areas can look good with moss - being other acid loving plants such as Azaleas and Camellias or even deep shade areas around ferns.
However if you do not wish moss, it can be smothered by adding a good thick layer of sugar cane mulch or hay and then, in spring sprinkled with blood and bone.
It will become a valuable feeding mulch and benefit the plants enormously.
Citrus / Fruit
All berry plants seem to thrive if a thick layer of sugar cane, straw or hay, mixed with manure is laid around them to gradually rot and break down during winter.