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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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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. 


October 2014 

Week 1: October gardening 

October is mid spring, a time when things are really moving in the garden.

Vegies to sow in October - Beans

October’s the month to think beans.  In warm areas sow seeds into a well drained garden bed or, where it’s cooler, into pots or seed trays that can be kept in a protected position.  The latter can be transplanted when the soil has lost its chill.  Take care not to overwater beans through the germination period.

Yates Gourmet’s Delight is a favourite low growing bean.  Stringless Blue Lake is a climbing bean that continues cropping for many weeks.

Flowers to sow in October – Dianthus Blush Pink

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is why it’s such a good idea to sow Dianthus Blush Pink seeds this month.  You see, for every pack of seed that’s sold, Yates donates 40c to the support group, Breast Cancer Network Australia.  Not only does this seed packet raise valuable funds, the flowers, with their sweet perfume and varying shades of pink and white, are low growing (hence ideal for pots) and very attractive:

Feed in October - Lawns

It’s easiest to feed lawns with a slow release lawn food (like Yates Lawn Master) that will last for a few months but, if you’re having a special spring event, you can spruce up the lawn in a hurry with hose-on Lawn Master Rapid.  

Prune in October

Prune rambling roses after flowering.  Lightly trim lavenders and water some of the new Yates Liquid Dolomite Lime onto the plants.  Prune blossom trees once their spring show is over.  Deciduous shrubs that make a grand display in spring – weigela, mock orange (Philadelphus sp.), forsythia, spirea etc – can be cut back once their flowering’s finished.  When you’re pruning these shrubs, be sure to remove some of the oldest canes completely by cutting them off close to ground level.

October pest watch – Lawn pests

If you had problems with lawn pests last season, now’s the time to begin protecting the lawn with Yates easy hose on Complete Lawn Insect Control.  It will keep the lawn pest free for months by controlling both leaf-eaters like army worm and root-eaters such as grass grub.

October job file

Fork lightly over garden beds, taking care to avoid disturbing roots. Sprinkle Dynamic Lifter pellets and water well before spreading a layer of organic mulch.  Make sure mulch doesn’t come into direct contact with the base of plants – always leave a small air gap.

Plant of the month – Aquilegia

Also called columbines, aquilegias are much loved because of their quaintly shaped flowers, that come in pastel bicolours, and their soft ferny leaves.  If you don’t have any on show in your spring garden, think about sowing or planting them next autumn.


Week 2: Growing from seed

Growing from seed is one of the most fundamental – and, therefore, most satisfying - of gardening activities.  The fascination of starting a plant from the very beginning and watching life spring from something so small and lifeless-seeming is irreplaceable. And spring is one of the best seasons for sowing plants from seed.

To successfully germinate, a seed needs three basic things – water, oxygen and the right temperature.  Other seeds have more specific requirements. Hence it’s important to check the sowing times and information on the seed packet before you start.  Tomatoes, for example, won’t germinate if temperatures are too low.  

Sowing vegetables from seed

Many spring-planted vegetables grow easily from seed. This list includes beans, sweet corn, zucchinis, pumpkins and cucumbers.  All of these will get the best start if they’re sown right where they’re to grow. On the seed packet this is often termed ‘sowing direct’ and its great advantage is that the young plants don’t have to suffer the stress of being transplanted.  Most importantly, however, all of these seeds need warm soil for germination so, if you’re in a very cold climate, it’s best to either wait a bit longer or to start the seeds in pots of Yates Seed Raising Mix.  Keep the pots in a warm spot and carefully transplant the seedlings once the weather’s warmer.  

Some seeds are particularly prone to rotting away if they stay wet for too long.  This especially applies to larger seeds like beans and sweet corn that contain large quantities of starch. If these seeds are given too much water they’ll rot and simply disappear.  You’ll achieve best results with beans if the seeds are sown into damp, well-drained soil and not watered again for a few days – usually after the bean plants have emerged. Sweet corn packet directions often suggest maximizing chances of success by sowing two seeds together. Then, if both germinate, the weaker plant can be removed.   

Zucchinis, pumpkins and their relatives are planted into ‘hills’, small mounds of improved soil.  The mounds help to guarantee good drainage for both the seeds and plants. Like corn, with these plants it’s best to sow more seeds than you need.  Excess seedlings can be removed or carefully transplanted.

Sowing flowers from seed

Many flower seeds are difficult to germinate because they’re so small. In fact, some flower seeds are so tiny they’re like dust. Many of these tiny seeds have evolved to germinate on the soil surface where they are directly contacted by light. This means achieving the tricky balance between keeping the seeds moist, but not burying them. 

Examples of such tiny, light-sensitive seeds are petunias, begonias and impatiens.  Sprinkle these seeds onto the surface of some Yates Seed Raising Mix and moisten by immersing the bottom half of the pot in a container of water.  Remove from the container when the moisture glistens on the surface of the mix. 

As a general rule, the larger the seed, the more deeply it should be sown.  Some of the bigger flower seeds – such as sunflowers and nasturtiums – can be sown straight into a prepared garden bed.  Sunflowers like warm soil, nasturtiums prefer it slightly cooler. 


Week 3: Time to re-pot orchids

October’s a good month to think about orchid care.  Many orchids have finished flowering and are about to go into their major growth period.

Cymbidium care

Cymbidiums are the most popular orchids.  They’re the ones with the tall flower spikes and bulbous swellings at the base of the long strappy leaves.  This is the best time of year to tidy them up and get them ready for the new growing season. 

Start by taking a good look at the orchid to see if the clump is crowded enough to need dividing.  Sometimes this decision is easy: the bulbous bases are so crowded together that they’re almost bursting out of the pot.  Or there are a lot of dead bulbs in the pot.  With either of these situations, it’s worth re-potting.  But don’t rush into it – a plant can stay in the same pot for a number of years. And, remember, after orchids have been divided, it can take two or three years for them to reach flowering stage again.

How to re-pot a cymbidium orchid:

* Remove the plant from the pot.  Sometimes it’s even necessary to break the pot in order to free the orchid.

* Take a knife or another strong tool and use it to lever between the bulbs.  Separate the clump into at least two sections.

* Remove most of the leafless, dead-looking or squashy bulbs.  You can  leave a single row of these back bulbs next to the leafy shoots.

* Check the roots for damaged, rotted or tangled sections.  Remove these.

* Choose new pots.  Yates Tuscan pots are ideal because they have plenty of drainage holes.  Good drainage is critically important for orchids.

* Pack some orchid potting mix into the base of the pot.

* Sit the orchid in the pot and fill around it with the mix.  Make sure that each bulb is sitting above the mix.

* Water well and sprinkle some pellets of Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food on top of the pot.

* Begin feeding with Yates Orchid Food every two weeks.

* After Christmas, to encourage flowering, use Yates Thrive Flower& Fruit Soluble Plant Food fortnightly. 

Caring for other orchids

Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis spp) are becoming increasingly popular. These can be kept indoors permanently in a well lit position but will, once it’s reliably warm, appreciate a spell outdoors in a lightly shaded spot.  These plants really appreciate humidity, so keep them well watered in hot weather and mist over the leaves regularly.  Moth orchids can produce new shoots and buds from the stem that flowered last year, so only trim dead sections from flowering shoots.

Moth orchids can be re-potted into fine orchid bark every three years or so.  Feed during the warmer months with Yates Orchid Food or Thrive Flower & Fruit.   Watch for mealy bugs – a Yates Rose Gun Advanced will take care of most of the common pests and diseases, including mealy bug.

Slipper orchids, so-named because their flowers resemble a dainty piece of lady’s footwear, will appreciate similar care.  A break outdoors can be good for these plants, too, but, because they’re naturally understorey dwellers, they can tolerate more shade.   


Week 4: Understanding weedkillers

October is weed month and, with spring now well established, weeds are appearing all over the place.  The first and simplest way to deal with weeds is to dig them out.  Sometimes, though, the problem’s so bad you need to resort to a weedkiller or, to use the technical term, a herbicide.  Because different herbicides have different uses, it’s important to choose the right one for your purpose.

Selective weedkillers for lawns

Selective weedkillers remove one type of plant from another and are mostly used to get rid of weeds from a lawn.  These weedkillers work by targeting the botanical differences between broad leaf (non-grass) weeds and the lawn grasses.  Here are some examples:

* Yates Bindii & Clover Weeder is a concentrate that must be diluted with water and sprayed or watered over the lawn as instructed on the label.  The weeds gradually die over a few weeks.  Spring is a great time to apply this herbicide as the grasses grow quickly to fill the gaps.  If you don’t have a sprayer, or you’re weeding just a small area of lawn, you can use Yates Weedkiller for Lawns Spot Spray that comes in a trigger pack. Both these products are unsuitable for buffalo lawns

* Yates BuffaloPro is a similar selective weedkiller that can be used when treating weeds in buffalo lawns.  It’s available as a concentrate that must be diluted, or in a hose on bottle.  The great advantage of the hose on is that the water coming through the hose does all the work.  In spite of its name, BuffaloPro can be applied to all types of lawns, not just the popular buffalo. 

* Weed ‘n’ Feed products are also used to remove weeds from lawns but, in this case, they also feed the grass so that it recovers much more quickly.  With all these selective weedkillers, it’s important to follow the instructions. That includes applying the product over the designated area. Apply too much and you can damage the grass.  Too little won’t do the job.

Non-selective weedkillers

These are total weedkillers that kill every plant they contact.  Clearly, this means that they can’t be applied to lawns and must be used with extra care.

Yates Zero is a glyphosate-based, total weedkiller.  Zero’s available in a number of different sizes and can be purchased as a concentrate or a ready to use.  The concentrate is particularly economical because of its strength (490 grams per litre), which means it goes a lot further when it’s mixed.  Glyphosate works by disrupting the plant’s growth and travels through the plant’s system and down to the roots before killing the plant.  Depending on growing conditions, this can take some time so, for faster results, you can use the Zero Rapid version that comes in a trigger pack. 

Once the weeds have gone, the area can be re-planted. If you want to be sure of where you’ve sprayed, add some of the Yates EasySee Spray Dye to the mix.  This will leave a blue covering on the sprayed sections for a few days and makes it easy to check if you’ve missed any weeds. 

Yates Tree & Blackberry Killer is the product to choose for killing unwanted weedy trees, or bushy weeds like blackberry and lantana. 

Another type of total weedkiller in the Yates range is called Path Weeder.  Yates Once a Year Path Weeder leaves a residue in the soil that stops new plants from growing for up to twelve months.  So it’s obviously not the product that you use in garden beds or anywhere you want plants to grow, but it’s ideal for driveways, courtyards and areas like tennis courts.  

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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