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General Gardening Tips and Techniques

Jobs to do in Spring

Fed your bulbs with a high potassium (potash) fertiliser, to encourage them to set flowers for next spring.

Don’t cut their foliage off until it is brown and dead. If you do, then you won’t have flowers next year.

Start incorporating compost and animal manure into your soil to improve its water holding capacity.

Core you lawn to increase the oxygen content in it. This will also improve water penetration. You can buy hand corers from your local hardware store.

Spring is also the time to fed your ornamental plants especially your roses, herbaceous perennials and annuals

Once your plants have flowered, this includes native plants, it is time to cut them back. If you are unsure how much to take off, then only remove 1/3 of the plant and your plant will be okay.

spring gardening

Winter – Coping with Frost

Watch the weather forecast

Water the garden the night before. Wet soil is warmer than dry soil

Bring delicate plants inside the house if you can

Place light materials over your plants. It is better if you can take the weight off the plants by using stakes. Don’t use plastic.

Water your plants before the sun rises, this slows down the thrawing process. Rapid thrawing is what causes damage to the internal cell walls.

Jobs to do in Winter

If you are inundated with leaves, get some chicken wire and stakes, make a circle and secure it with the stakes and put the leaves in. Add some blood and bone and water and in 4 months time you will have lovely compost. Turning everynow and again will also help.

Prune your roses and then spray the soil and stems with lime sulphur to try and kill fungual spores such as black spot. Make sure you don’t spray lime sulphur in spring, it will damage the new leaves.

Clean and sharpen your tools. A job that everyone forgets about! Sharp tools make your job much easier in the garden.

If you didn’t prune your hydrangers in autumn, now is the time to cut them back. You won’t get flowers until the next year, so leave all the unflowered stalks (have candle stick points) as they are this years flowers.

Winter is still a good time to move plants.

At the end of winter, the dreaded job of checking that the watering system is a must. It can get blocked up with soil and insects.

Jobs to do in Autumn

Early autumn put your large bulbs like daffodills, hyacinths and tulips into the vegetable crisper of the fridge to get a cold period. They can stay there for upto 6 weeks. Don’t put them in the freezer, you will ruin them
Soak small bulbs like ranunculars and anemones in a bucket with a dash of liquid fertiliser and leave for 24 hours. They will swell up and germinate quicker. It gives them a good start in life.

Early autumn say March before the soil temperature has cooled down is a good time to give you plants their last feed of blood and bone or any other solid organic fertiliser before winter sets in.

This time of year is also excellent for repairing, renovating or replacing your lawn. And autumn is the last time you have to fertilise it before winter arrives.

Autumn is also a great time to move small trees and shrubs if you have too. The remaining warmth in the soil helps stimulate new root growth.

Autumn is also a great time to plant your winter/spring annuals such as primulas or pansies. Again, it helps them get over transplant shock if you soak them in some liquid fertiliser for a couple of hours. It really works!

Coping with Summer

How to Manage your garden with Wet Summers

After a 13 years of drought, Australia is experiencing torrential down pours and in many parts of the country – floods. For years we have all been asking how to help our plants survive drought, now we are asking how do we save them from drowning.

Wet soils are many plants enemies, especially citrus. Clay soils are usually the problem because the have small pore space (gaps between the soil particles) and they fill up quickly with water, pushing out the oxygen. Plant roots need oxygen just like us to survive.

Signs of Water Stress

  • Black edges on the mature leaves
  • Leaves becoming pale yellow
  • Mature leaves falling off in massive amounts
  • General lack lusture appearance of the plants and
  • Sometimes at the tips of the leaves they go a pale yellow and very limp.

To improve drainage, I suggest the following:

Immediate Effect

Put down some agricultural pipe and drain the excess water to another part of the garden. If you have a pond or dam, drain it to there. It is a good ideat to put a layer of small stones down, then the agricultural pipe.

Long Term Effect

If your soil pH is over 5.5 add gypsum. It loosens up the clay soil particles and allows the moisture to drain away. It needs to be applied every 1 to 2 years.

Incorporate regularly, lots of compost and animal manure. Again, they loosen up the soil particles and improve drainage.

If you have very heavy clay, initially you may have to rip or rotary hoe it.

And the last trick is to choose local plants that have adapted to heavy wet soil conditions.

Tips to protect your plants on extremely hot days in summer

  • Take pot plants inside.
  • Put an old umbrella up over delicate plants like hydrangeas.
  • Put shade cloth over delicate plants like fucshia’s. Don’t forget to tie it down or it will blow away.
  • Old sheets and towels also can protect your plants.
  • Don’t forget to take them off after the heat has passed.
  • And only water early in the morning or at the end of the day.
  • Revive your burnt plants from the extreme heat
  • Do not prune any plants until the cooler weather of autumn arrives. The burnt foliage provide protection for the buds that are still alive.

To tell if buds are still alive – green buds yes, brown dried out looking no.

winter garden

Run your thumb along the stem and take off some of the bark. Green is alive, brown means the stem is dead. Do this all over the plant to find if any part is still alive.

Climbing Plants Hints

For those climbers on fences wind the lateral (side) stems hortizontally through the lattace holes or along the wire support. This will create lovely thick low coverage of foliage.

Wisteria needs an winter prune and summer prune. In summer prune off the long tendrils. To encourage next springs flowers (which occur on second year growth) identify the join where the last years growth finishes and this years growth start. Last years growth is grey in colour and this years is green. On the green section count up three buds and prune off the rest. This will become spurs for the next springs flowering.

Vegetable Hints

Think about what part of the vegetables you want to eat. eg: flowers, leaves roots etc.

1. Tomatoes – do not enrich the soil too much as they will only produce leaves. Add a good handful of potash when planting and water in well.

2. Sweet corn – needs to be planted into 2 rows, so that the wind can cross-fertilise it.

3. Pumpkins/zucchinis – need a lot of room to grow. The male flowers appear first, female occur at the end of the tendrils. You may need to pollinate the female flowers your self. Get a toothbrush. Pick the male flower and pull back the petals. Brush the toothbrush gently over the male stamen and then gently over the female. If the little fruits fall off, it could be because it was not fertilised or there has been an inconsistency with watering – to much/not enough. Only let one or two pumpkins etc develop on each plant by chopping off the tip.

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