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Judy Horton's Gardening

Posted by: 2UE | 20 April, 2011 - 9:16 AM
Gardening with Judy Horton on 2UE

Yates gardening expert Judy Horton provides gardening advice on what you should be doing in your garden.

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August 2014

Week 1: August gardening

Is that a hint of spring in the air?  Don’t be fooled, because we can still have some very cool and windy days in August.  But the days are getting longer and many plants are starting to stir.

Vegies to sow in August – Capsicums and chillis

These summer-loving fruiting plants take some time to get to picking stage so it’s best to get them started as early as possible.  This will often mean sowing seeds into pots of Yates Seed Raising Mix that can be kept indoors.  The plants will then be ready to go outside when the warm weather arrives.  Yates Habanero chilli is a hot favourite that’s good for pots.

Flowers to sow in August - Snapdragons

Snapdragons are a bit out of fashion but they deserve to be more widely grown.  Kids love putting their fingers into the flowers and running the risk of being ‘snapped’. Yates seed range has two popular varieties: Tetra Mixed is a tall (to 60cm) grower with ruffled flowers.  Tom Thumb is much shorter, hence more versatile in the garden. 

Feed in August

This is a good month to feed the garden with Yates top quality Blood & Bone.  It helps condition the soil and releases slowly so that the goodness becomes available just in time for the spring growth spurt. 

Prune in August

Finish rose pruning.  Cut back camellias as their flowering comes to an end.  Prune citrus (if required) after harvest and remove this season’s gall wasp lumps.  Prune poinsettias and other winter bloomers as flowers fade.  In late August prune summer bloomers such as gardenias and hibiscus. Trim ornamental grass clumps – they can be cut almost to ground level at this time of year.

August pest watch

Watch for aphids on new growth.  Keep in check by hosing off or removing by hand but, if numbers increase, protect ornamentals with Yates Rose Gun Advanced, and edibles with Nature’s Way Insect & Mite Killer Natrasoap.

Spray lawns with Weed ‘n’ Feed to control broadleaf weeds and feed the lawn.  Just be sure the product is suitable for your grass - BuffaloPro is the best choice for buffalo lawns.

August job file

This is a good time to repot indoor and outdoor plants.  Pot up into a larger size if necessary, or stick to the same pot but remove some of the potting mix and replace with fresh mix.  Don’t forget to check for - and trim off - any rotten roots.  Make sure drainage holes are free.  Get rid of any curl grubs – toss them out for the birds to eat. 

Plant of the month

Blossom trees are in full swing now.  These do best in cool climates but can grow happily where it’s warmer if well mulched and watered in dry times. 

Remove any fruit that develops and prune blossom trees once flowering is over.   


Week 2: Magnificent magnolias

August is the height of magnolia season.  While many of the deciduous varieties start blooming in July, magnolias reach their peak in August. 

Deciduous magnolias are garden aristocrats.  They’re relatively expensive to buy, slow growing and rather dull for much of the year.  In hot summer areas the leaves can develop unattractive burnt edges as the weather gets warmer and drier.  But then, when they bloom, all is forgiven.  Their endearing habit of flowering on bare stems shows them off at their very best.

Newer varieties of deciduous magnolias are being introduced all the time.  The Jury family in New Zealand has been responsible for developing fabulous varieties such as ‘Black Tulip’ and ‘Felix’.  ‘Star Wars’, another New Zealand introduction, is a cross between the lily-flowered magnolia and the large-flowered M. campbellii.  The blooms are a rich pink with long petals that gyrate in different directions.

Evergreen magnolias are increasing in popularity, especially the new types of Magnolia grandiflora.  This giant tree from North America is usually considered to be far too large for suburban gardens but, fortunately, in recent years a number of smaller versions have become available.  All have similar, perfumed, large white flowers over many months throughout the warmer weather.  The best known is ‘Little Gem’ which, though often described as a dwarf, will still grow into a substantial tree that’s between five and eight metres.  It can be pruned a couple of times a year to keep it under control but, remember, this will be an ongoing commitment.

Other slightly smaller forms of Magnolia grandiflora are ‘Kay Parris’ and ‘Teddy Bear’.  All three – ‘Little Gem’, ‘Kay Parris’ and ‘Teddy Bear’ – have coppery-brown, felted backs on their leaves.  This gives them an interesting two-toned appearance.  For an overall green look, seek out an evergreen magnolia called ‘Greenback’. 

The plants called michelias are now also classed as magnolias.  Into this group falls the well known port wine magnolia, Magnolia figo, which is commonly found under its old name of Michelia figo.  It makes a thick hedge with hidden flowers that have a pervasive perfume. 

‘Fairy’ magnolias are descendants of the port wine magnolia crossed with two other varieties.  They come in cream or pink versions and produce an abundance of small flowers over many weeks. 

Caring for magnolias

All magnolias enjoy deep, rich soil that doesn’t get too dry.  Prepare soil well before planting by digging in – to twice the width of the pot – plenty of organic aged manure or compost.

Keep plants watered during dry weather but don’t let too much water sit around their roots.  Mulch annually after flowering with a thick layer of organically rich material.  Evergreen magnolias can be trimmed but, if possible,  pruning should be avoided with most of the deciduous varieties.  Feed with Dynamic Lifter Plus Flower Food and watch out for snails chewing on new growth (use Blitzem or Baysol pellets).


Week 3: Growing edibles in small spaces

Even if you don’t have a garden, it’s not at all difficult to produce some of your own food at home. Sprouts, for example, will grow in something as simple as an empty glass jar. Yates Alfalfa Sprouts have all the details on how you can do this, with edible results in just a few days.  Sprouts can also be grown in a cloth bag, a plastic kitchen strainer, a terracotta saucer or specially designed sprouters.   The important thing is that you don’t need soil - water, air and time is all that’s required.  Follow instructions and remember to keep everything scrupulously clean.  Before you know it, you’ll be producing health-giving sprouts in your own kitchen.


Microgreens, the next step up from sprouts, are found on plates in many modern restaurants but they’re super easy to grow at home. 

Microgreens are small seedlings that are sown into a seed raising mix or some other suitable medium.  Unlike sprouts, they’ve had time to develop their root systems and start to photosynthesise.  Yates has four special microgreens seed packets in its range, and it’s fun to experiment with these seeds and others. 

Microgreens need to be kept moist throughout the germination period and while they’re growing.  The easiest way to do this is by mist spraying with a water atomiser.  In the second week of growth you can add a small amount of fertiliser to the water - Yates new Thrive Liquid All Purpose would be ideal.  Harvest microgreens with scissors when they’re big enough to use.  After harvesting they won’t regrow, so should be re-sown regularly.

Edibles in pots

As long as it gets some sun, even a small balcony or courtyard can be used to grow your own vegies and herbs.  Yates Tuscan Edge pots are ideal in this situation because they have a self-watering feature. Tuscan Edge troughs, which take up even less room, will hold a collection of small-growing herbs such as basil, chives, sage, oregano, marjoram, parsley or others.  Full-sized rosemary will require a larger pot but there are some dwarf rosemary varieties that will grow in a trough.  Bay, too, needs to be potted up into a good-sized tub so that, as it develops, it has adequate root room.

There are plenty of small growing vegetables that will suit a potted garden.  Examples are loose leaf lettuces, silverbeet, spinach, spring onions, Asian greens and baby versions of carrots, turnips and beetroot.  Zucchinis, baby squash and tomatoes will need at least a 40cm pot. 

Even the fruit grower with limited space is catered for these days.  Lots of fruit trees are grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks to make them better suited to pots.   Strawberries can be planted into hanging baskets and blueberries are often easier to grow in pots than garden beds because their special, acid-loving requirements can be catered for.

Edibles in garden beds

If you have the luxury of some spare garden space, it’s surprising what can be produced in a small area.  Square metre gardening is a successful technique that will help you to make the most of a tiny patch. Choose a spot with plenty of sun, enrich the soil between crops and always try to follow one type of crop with something unrelated (such as carrots after beans).


Week 4: Start your tomatoes early

Having homegrown tomatoes ready for Christmas has long been a traditional aim of keen tomato growers but, if you like growing your tomatoes from seed, you’ll need to get started as soon as possible. 

Tomatoes have tropical origins so prefer soil temperatures of at least 20°C for successful germination.  In many parts of the country it will still be too cold to sow outdoors but, because tomatoes transplant easily, they can be started inside and grown on to be ready for planting outdoors when conditions are warmer. 

Use seed raising mix

It’s worth investing in some Yates Seed Raising Mix for this exercise.  Seed raising mix has finer particles than potting mix, and maintains a good balance between holding adequate moisture and draining well.

Almost any container can be used to raise the seeds.  Clean, pre-loved seed punnets are ideal, as are small pots.   Plastic food containers work well, as long as they’re washed thoroughly before use.  Make sure, too, that the container has some drainage holes poked in the base. 

A warm window sill is a good place to start your tomatoes.  Be careful if it gets direct sunlight as, even in winter, the pots could get very hot. A bright spot out of the sun would be better.

Fill the pot with the mix, water and allow to drain.  Sow the seeds at the recommended depth, cover gently and water again when they need it.  Shallow containers can be watered by sitting them in an outer, water-filled container and allowing the moisture to seep up through the drainage holes.  Don’t leave the pot sitting in the water for too long or the seeds will drown.

There are lots of tomato varieties to choose from in the Yates seed range:

* ‘Improved Apollo’ is a good choice for early sowing as it has the ability to set fruit when temperatures are still relatively cool.

* ‘Grosse Lisse’ is Australia’s favourite tomato.  It produces heavy crops of large, round fruit right through the warm weather. 

* ‘Heirloom Favourites’ and ‘Mortgage Lifter’ are heritage tomatoes that have great flavour. 

* ‘Burke’s Backyard Italian’ is another older-style tomato with distinctively ribbed sides.

* ‘Summerstar’ has been bred specifically for warm areas where tomatoes are more likely to succumb to diseases.

* ‘Roma’ is the most popular tomato for cooking and making pastes.

* ‘Patio’ and ‘Tiny Tim’ are good choices for pots.  ‘Patio’ has medium growth and medium sized fruit, while ‘Tiny Tim’ is a true dwarf plant with cherry-sized tomatoes.

* ‘Sweetbite’ and ‘Small Fry’ are larger growing plants with masses of tiny fruit. 

* ‘Tommy Toe’ is golf-ball sized with a prize winning flavour.

 Move the tomatoes outside as soon as the weather is reliably warm.  They love good going so plant into well prepared soil that’s been enriched with Dynamic Lifter, and feed every couple of weeks with Yates Tomato & Vegie Food. 

Dust regularly with Yates Tomato & Vegetable Dust to keep pests and diseases at bay.

For more information contact Judy Horton judy.horton@yates.com.au www.yates.com.au


September Gardening

Week 1: September gardening

Hooray for spring, the season when it’s a joy to watch everything in the garden come back to life. 

Vegies to sow in September

September’s a good month for sowing silverbeet, a leafy vegetable that is one of the easiest for beginners.  Yates seed range has a choice of traditional Fordhook Giant Silverbeet, Compact Deep Green (which is a little smaller), the long-cropping Perpetual Green,  colourful Rainbow Chard or red-legged Ruby Chard (chard is the popular European term for silverbeet). 

Flowers to sow in September

Our number one flower pick for September sowing is always Yates Cosmos Bright Eyes.  Why? Because this sunny summer flower is easy to grow from seed but, most importantly, every packet sold raises funds for Retina Australia.  The total donated from packet sales over the years has now reached more than $112,000, all of which goes towards research into genetic eye diseases. 

Feed in September

It’s hard to know what to recommend feeding in the September garden because the answer’s just about everything.  Don’t forget to look for the new Yates Thrive Liquids with a range of special formulations to suit the most popular plant groups.  They’re easy to measure and mix, the labels won’t wash off and they go to work quickly to promote healthy spring growth. 

Prune in September

This is a busy month for cutting back anything that has finished flowering.  Tidy cold damaged parts of plants like mandevillas and hibiscus.  Thin out crowded sections of passionfruit, citrus and camellias to allow plenty of sun into the centre of the plant.  Tip prune fuchsias to thicken new growth.  

September pest watch

Snails and slugs just love tender shoots, so protect seedlings with Blitzem or Baysol pellets.  Use Yates Liquid Copper on green tips of apples to control black spot.  Many other fruits trees such as cherries, pears etc. need to be sprayed with Liquid Copper at bud swell or while shoots are still very small.   

September job file

This is the ideal month to create a herb patch.  Group dry climate herbs, such as oregano and sage, together and keep them away from the herbs (like parsley, basil and mint) that enjoy more moisture and fertiliser. 

Plant of the month – Wattle

Since 1992 September 1 has officially been Wattle Day.  You can mark this special day by wearing a sprig of wattle but it would be even better to plant a wattle in your garden.  With almost 1000 native species and, these days, many attractive cultivars, there’s one to suit every landscape. 



Week 2: Spring gardening tips 

Here are some timely seasonal tips to help you make the most of your spring garden:

Spring flowers

Roses are at their best in the spring garden.  Watch for pests like aphids – they breed at an alarming rate as conditions get warmer.  Spring rose leaves are usually fresh and green, without the unsightly fungal spots that spoil them later in the season.  Keep them that way with a regular spray program using Yates Rose Gun Advanced or, for larger gardens, Yates Rose Shield.

Plant out summer bloomers such as alstroemeria, calibrachoa (e.g. Million Bells), portulacas, dahlias and daylilies.  Sow seeds of sunflowers, salvias and marigolds. 

Spring lawns

The lawn comes back to life in spring.  Feed with an organic fertiliser such as Dynamic Lifter Lawn Food or the super concentrated DL for Lawns that has added nutrients.  There’s even a new, neighbour-friendly, reduced odour version.  Spring’s a good season, too, to rejuvenate the lawn by spiking with a fork to aerate the soil.  Topdress with a sandy mix to fill any hollows and, if the grass is very thin, thicken by oversowing with a fast-germinating seed mix such as Yates LawnSmart All Season.  If you had problems with insect pests damaging the lawn last year, treat with Yates Complete lawn Insect Control.  It comes in an easy hose-on formulation and will provide protection for months.  

Spring natives

Most native plants will appreciate a cut back but it can be difficult to know when to prune them   After flowering is the general advice, but this is tricky when many plants seem to be in flower all the time.  Take advantage of any slight lull in the blooming because, even if you have to sacrifice a few flowers, the end result will be worth it.   Try to avoid cutting back into hard, leafless wood.  After pruning, feed with a specific native plant fertiliser such as Garden Gold for Natives or Acticote for Natives, or Yates Blood & Bone. 

Spring vegies & herbs

Spring’s an important season for the home vegie patch.  It’s time for sowing or planting all the warm season vegies such as beans, tomatoes, sweet corn, capsicum and eggplants.  After the soil has lost its chill, sow seeds of members of the cucurbit family.  This group includes pumpkins, zucchinis, squash, cucumbers and melons.  

Basil is the major herb for spring sowing and planting but others such as dill, thyme and rocket will also take off in the spring weather.  And it’s a good time to plant coriander which is best started from seed as it doesn’t like being transplanted.  In early spring you can sow coriander into a full sun position but, as summer gets closer, it prefers to go into a semi-shaded spot.     

Spring pots

Check potted plants, especially if they haven’t been touched for a number of years.  Remove some old potting mix and replace with fresh mix.  Or, better still, pot into a larger container, using Yates Premium Potting Mix.  



Week 3: Flowers for summer colour 

September’s the month to prepare for summer colour in the garden and, fortunately, at this time of year, plenty of flowers can be grown from seed. 

Once the soil has lost its chill many flower seeds can be sown straight into a pre-prepared garden bed.  In colder areas, though, you’ll either have to wait till it’s warmer, or start seedlings in pots that can be kept in a warm spot.

Sunflowers are the blooms that we most associate with summer.  And they’re so easy to grow from seed they’ll make a great school holiday seed-sowing project for kids.  My favourite is the Yates mix called Bronze Shades, but most kids will be sure to vote for the extra tall Yellow Empress sunflower with its classic, sun-facing, large yellow heads.

Nasturtiums, like sunflowers, have seeds that are a satisfying size to handle.  Get onto nasturtium sowing quickly, though, because they don’t like germinating when soil conditions become too hot.  Not only do nasturtiums have bright and colourful summer flowers, every part of the plant is edible.  And, if you want to set kids a dexterity challenge, get them to roll beads of water around on the nasturtium leaf without allowing the drops fall over the edge.

Everlasting daisies are another group of summer flowers that children will enjoy growing.  They love the feel of the papery petals and appreciate their long-lasting qualities.  Did you know that the French call them immortelles because of their long life? 

Petunias are probably the most widely grown summer flowers.  Although they can be started from seed, petunia germination can be a little challenging.  The seeds must be exposed to some light but this, of course, makes them vulnerable to drying out.  Lightly press the tiny seeds into the surface of some Yates Seed Raising Mix.  Keep the pot in a shaded spot and cover with plastic wrap or a sheet of glass.  Avoid dislodging the tiny seeds by watering with a mister or by wetting from the base.  After germination, transplant to larger pots and then into a sunny spot in the garden.

Zinnias are cheery summer flowers that have made a fashion comeback in recent years.  Yates Gold Medal is a big grower that can reach up to 1.2 metres in height.  Lilliput is smaller – to 5ocm – with fully double, dome-shaped blooms.  Pinch out the first buds to encourage sideways branching.  Both varieties are ideal for picking, too.

Celosias produce bright tufts of feathery blooms in tropical colours of red, yellow, orange and pink.  Kewpie Mix celosia grows from Yates seeds and just loves the warmer months.  This variety only reaches a compact 20cm so looks fantastic crowded together in a pot. 

Keep flowering plants looking good by removing dead blooms, cutting back leggy plants and continually feeding with Yates Thrive Liquid for Roses & Flowers or the soluble Thrive Flower & Fruit.  Use a Yates Rose Gun Advanced to treat most of the common pests and diseases.  



Week 4: Grow sandwich fillings with Yates and Abbott’s Village Bakery 

This spring Yates and Abbott’s Village Bakery have joined together to encourage everyone to have a go at growing their own healthy sandwich fillings.  More than 500,000 packets of popular Yates seed varieties will be given away as part of this promotion.  It’s simply a matter of purchasing your Abbott’s Village Bakery loaf, going online to redeem your free packet of seeds and making a choice of tomato, lettuce, carrot, cucumber beetroot, capsicum, basil and rocket.   

Sun, plenty of water and fertiliser are the keys to success when growing vegies. Before you start growing, make sure you select a suitable position for your vegies.  Vegies will need at least a few hours of sun every day – more in cooler areas and less where it’s really hot in summer.  Growing vegies in pots can be a good option if you’re short of sunny spots because they can be moved to take advantage of whatever sun you have.  Use a top quality potting mix (like Yates Premium) in pots, and enrich the soil in garden beds by digging in plenty of old manure or compost. 

The new liquid Thrive Vegie & Herbs is the perfect, fast acting food to choose for the edible garden. 

Yates seed packets carry lots of helpful information and guidelines for achieving success, but here are some extra tips for growing your fresh and tasty vegies and herbs.

Tomato Grosse Lisse– Australia’s favourite tomato!  Start seeds in pots of Yates Seed Raising Mix and transplant the seedlings after they’ve germinated.  Dust regularly with Yates Tomato & Vegetable Dust to protect from common tomato problems. 

Capsicum Giant Bell – Capsicum is related to tomatoes so enjoys similar growing conditions – i.e. plenty of sun, regular feeding with Thrive liquid Tomato Food and protection from pests like fruit fly.  Yates website has all the tips.

Carrot Manchester – An oldtime variety with strong orange roots that can be picked when very young. Sow direct in rows and thin crowded seedlings.

?Beetroot Derwent Globe – So easy to grow and you can add both the leaves and the cooked roots to your sandwiches .

Cucumber Lebanese – These sweet little cucumbers don’t need peeling – just slice and eat.  Plant some flowers nearby to encourage pollinating bees to visit.

Lettuce Buttercrunch and Lettuce Green Mignonette – These small- growing lettuce varieties do well in pots.  Sow into good quality potting mix, keep in sun or light shade and feed weekly with high nitrogen Thrive Soluble All Purpose or the new Thrive Liquid All Purpose.

Rocket Large Leaf –Rocket lives up to its name – it’s just about the fastest growing and easiest plant in the edible garden. 

Sweet Basil – Add extra flavour to summer sandwiches with a few sprigs of sweet basil. 

For more information contact Judy Horton judy.horton@yates.com.au www.yates.com.au


Herbie's Saturday Curry

Herbie makes this tasty curry on Saturday to enjoy on Sunday.

Serves 2 -4 depending on appetite


2 tablespoons Herbie's Spices Curry Powder Medium Madras

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon Herbie's Spices Panch Phora

1 onion chopped

500g beef, lamb or chicken cut into 2cm cubes

2 teaspoons lemon juice

400g can whole peeled tomatoes & 400mL water

2 teaspoons Herbie's Spices Garam Masala

2 tablespoons tomato paste

8 Herbie's Spices Curry Leaves Whole

Salt or Herbie's Spices Chaat Masala to taste


1. Heat a heavy based pan, add curry powder and dry roast, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon for around 2 minutes, being careful not to burn.

2. Add oil and make into a paste, add panch phora and stir until seeds start popping.

3. Add onion and stir over a medium heat for 2 minutes, being careful not to overcook.

4. Add meat, about 6 pieces at a time, making sure each piece is browned and coated with spices.

If the meat and spices begin to stick to the base of the pan, add about a tablespoon of water and stir well.

5. When all the meat has been stirred in, add lemon juice, tomatoes and water, roughly chopping tomatoes while stirring. Sprinkle garam masala over the surface.

6. Add tomato paste, curry leaves and salt, stir and turn off heat. Place the lid on the pot and place in oven at 125ºC for 2 hours. Chicken will need less cooking time.

7. Allow to cool, store in fridge, then heat and serve next day.

Additional Tips

Like most curries, the leftovers are even better, if you can bear to leave any! If using chicken for this recipe, "lovely legs" or thighs with bone would work well.


Lavender Fields in France



Photos from Judy's European trip






For more information contact Judy Horton (02) 97949481 judy.horton@yates.com.au  


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Blog comments Your Say

  • I would like to introduce you to a beautiful open garden in the village of Sutton Forest in the Southern Highlands called Red Cow Farm. Open to the public from mid September to mid May every year it is recognised as one of the best gardens in Australia. Red Cow Farm is situated on 2.5 hectares featuring 22 garden rooms, a lake, nursery and gift shop.
    Entry is $8.00 for adults and $7.00 for seniors. www.redcowfarm.com.au

    Diana Cherry Monday 27 January, 2014 - 10:40 AM

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