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Judy Horton's Gardening
Yates gardening expert Judy Horton provides gardening advice on what you should be doing in your garden.
Open Garden 15-16 Feb - Farnborough in Moss Vale. 6530 Illawarra Highway. Historic cedar homestead. Old trees, permaculture vegetable patch.
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Week 1: March gardening
What a summer – we’re so glad to say goodbye to all that heat! Let’s hope the garden - like us - can now breathe a sigh of relief and settle into milder autumn conditions.
Vegies to sow in March - Kale
Kale is a cool season vegetable with curly leaves that are so attractive the plants can be used as ornamentals in the garden. Kale leaves have a mild flavour that blends with a wide range of winter dishes.
Flowers to sow in March – Nigella
Nigella has so many positives: pretty flowers, ferny leaves, edible seeds and easy-to-grow plants. The seed pods, too, are attractive and are used in dried arrangements. Grow nigella in semi shade in warm areas, or in full sun where it’s cooler.
Feed in March
Winter vegies – such as spinach, parsnips, turnips, broccoli, leeks and more – can all be planted out in the next few weeks. Prepare soil by digging in compost and some Dynamic Lifter pellets. Dynamic Lifter PLUS Vegie Food is a perfect blend that will get them off to a great start.
Prune in March
Keep removing dead flowers and unwanted seed pods. Cannas, for example, will look much better if the seed pods and flower remains are cut off regularly. Unless they’re required for propagation, most seed heads, which are just taking goodness out of the plant, can come off.
March pest watch
Caterpillars are at their damaging peak in March. Most can be squashed but there are some particularly damaging grubs that need firmer control. Be on the lookout for lily caterpillars attacking strappy-leafed plants, huge hawk moth larvae, cabbage moth and butterfly grubs, and vine moth caterpillars. Yates Success is the best control.
March job file – Buy bulbs
Spring bulbs are in the shops and catalogues. It’s probably a little early to plant but buy now to get the best choice. The fact that so much beauty comes out of those brown-skinned packages called bulbs is one of Mother Nature’s miracles.
Plant of the month - Plumbago
Plumbago is as tough as old boots and will survive just about anything except heavy frosts. It flowers for months - right through until the end of the warm weather - and the pretty sky blue or white-flowered versions are now joined by ‘Royal Cape’ with its electric-blue blooms. Plumbago makes a great, quick-growing hedge. Contain the spreading suckers and cut back hard in late winter.
Week 2: Autumn gardening
Autumn’s a favourite season in the garden when there’s a lot going on. Here are some suggestions for regular seasonal activities:
Autumn rose garden
* In early autumn feed with a rose-specific fertiliser such as Yates Dynamic Lifter PLUS Flower Food.
* Apply Yates Rose Gun Advanced or Rose Shield (for bigger gardens) to keep autumn pests and disease under control.
* Visit rose gardens and autumn rose displays for inspiration and ideas.
* Hand weed carefully around rose bushes. They’re particularly sensitive to herbicides.
* Watch for lawn grubs and other insect pests that attack grass leaves and roots. Use Yates Complete Lawn Insect Control – it will take care of all the common lawn pests.
* In humid periods fungal diseases can take hold in the lawn. Treat with Zaleton or Mancozeb Plus.
* Give lawns a long-term feed with Lawn Master Slow Release and use hose-on Lawn Master Rapid Greening for a quick pick up.
* Spread fast-germinating Yates Lawn Patch to mend holes and worn areas in the lawn.
* Finish pruning stone fruit.
* Spray PestOil or the new Success Ultra to control citrus leaf miner, the tiny grub that makes wiggly lines in the new leaves.
* Take care of fruit fly with Yates Nature’s Way Fruit Fly Control. Pick up and destroy fly-infested fruit by wrapping it in plastic and leaving it to ‘cook’ in the sun.
* After leaf fall spray bare peach and nectarine trees with Yates Liquid Copper to break the cycle of leaf curl disease.
* Sow broad beans and peas.
* Sow spinach. It does much better in winter than during the warmer months.
* Finish harvesting summer vegies. Remove, and dig in compost or manure before putting in a new, unrelated crop.
* Sow onions, and plant garlic and shallot bulbs.
* Other vegies for autumn planting include turnips, carrots, broccoli, winter lettuce, celery and leeks. Varieties will vary according to local conditions.
Week 3: Flowers for the winter/spring garden
Autumn’s an important season to prepare for garden colour in late winter and spring. It’s a good idea, though, to get flowers well established before winter because they’ll slow down in cold weather. Be aware, too, that day length affects plant growth. Even though daytime temperatures might still be quite mild, many plants will grow more slowly as the days get shorter.
Lots of favourite flowers can be sown economically from seed in early autumn. These will then be ready for planting out into the garden or larger containers before the arrival of winter. Here are some choice varieties you can grow from Yates seeds:
* Hollyhocks, because they grow up to two metres tall, need a wind-sheltered spot in full sun. In most places Hollyhock Double Elegance’s puffs of multi-petalled flowers will appear next spring but, where it’s very cold, they may not bloom until the second year. Regardless of this, these striking garden flowers are well worth having.
* Pansies and violas are closely related to each other. Both are best sown into pots or trays of Yates Seed Raising Mix and transplanted carefully once the seedlings are big enough. While there are many varieties, one of the most unusual is Yates Pansy Black Night
* Sweet pea is possibly the most popular flower seed for autumn sowing. Traditional favourite sweet peas are climbers that need support but there are others suited to pots. Sow direct into well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Make sure you have a Yates Rose Gun Advanced on hand to treat mildew as soon as it appears.
* Aquilegia’s name is a bit of a mouthful but, fortunately, this cottagey flower is also known by the friendlier ‘columbine’. The pretty blooms with backwards spurs come in a range of pastel bi-colours. These plants do best in cool climates but, where it’s warmer, will flourish in semi shade. If happy, aquilegias can last for a number of years.
* Calendulas are useful because their cheerful orange and yellow daisies add warmth to the winter garden. They’re also helpful for deterring insect pests like white fly so it’s a good idea to plant them all around the garden – even among the vegies! Calendula ‘Pacific Beauty’ flowers in a range of colour shades from soft salmon to deep orange.
* Cornflowers are synonymous with blue but also come in pink, rose, lavender, white and other colours. Start seeds in pots of Yates Seed Raising Mix and plant out about 40cm apart. They’re great for picking.
* Sweet william is a form of dianthus, a close relative of the carnation. The flowers have a charming spikiness due to the small leaflets that sit below the clustered heads. All dianthus like sweet soil so, in acid areas, mix in some Yates Garden Lime before planting. The flowers are edible and make pretty garnishes.
Week 4: There’s a cabbage to fit any sized garden
Forget about those old boarding house cabbages that were cooked until they turned grey. These days cabbages are exciting vegetables that can be used in salads, stir fries and soups or can be decorative enough to go into the ornamental garden. Take kale, for example. Coloured leaf kales are used in place of winter flowers, but the edible varieties can also be grown for their good looks. Yates Kale is a curly-leafed vegetable that can be popped into all sorts of odd spots in the garden.
Cabbages for indoors
The trendiest and definitely most space saving way to grow cabbages is as microgreens. Yates Cabbage Rubies is a packet of seed that will add a colourful gourmet touch to dishes. Micro cabbages can be grown on a windowsill. When they’re ready - within 2 to 3 weeks – they can be harvested with scissors, just as they’re needed. Make successive sowings for a continuous supply and use the red-stemmed shoots to decorate and add flavour.
Cabbages for pots
The best cabbages to choose for containers are the non-hearting Asian types. Yates Buk Choy has upright leaves that can be picked leaf by leaf or cut as an entire clump. After soil has lost its summer heat, sow Chinese cabbage seeds direct into a well prepared bed. Or, in warmer areas, sow seeds into trays filled with Yates Seed Raising Mix and keep them in a cool spot. Then transplant carefully when the seedlings can be easily handled. Wombok is another Chinese variety in the Yates range. It grows into a compact, multi-leafed head that is tightly packed with leaves.
Traditional garden cabbages
The larger European cabbages are not as popular as they once were but, if they’re well grown and picked just before cooking, they’re sweet and tender. Sugarloaf’s name is a good reflection of its flavour. Its conical centre is set off by the fans of outer leaves.
Eureka is a round headed cabbage that goes well with a range of dishes. Its tightly packed inner leaves are so well protected they’re almost white. Eureka’s a relatively slow grower that takes four months or more to develop in the colder weather.
Caring for cabbages
Grow cabbages in a sunny spot with well drained soil that’s been enriched by digging in some Dynamic Lifter PLUS Vegie Food. Add a little Yates Garden Lime if soil is acidic. Feed seedlings by regularly watering with Thrive All Purpose.
The biggest threat to cabbages comes from the insect pests that love to attack the plants. Aphids cluster on young growth, sucking goodness and spreading disease. Spray with Yates Nature’s Way Insect & Mite Killer Natrasoap. Its fast acting formula will quickly get rid of aphids and other small sap suckers. The most important predators, caterpillars of the cabbage moth and butterfly, can be controlled with the help of the new Success Ultra or non-toxic Nature’s Way Dipel.
Week 1: April gardening
April, mid autumn, is a gentle month in the garden.
Vegies to sow in April – Peas
The generation of kids who’ve grown up thinking that peas come in plastic bags from the supermarket freezer will be astonished to discover that peas grow on living plants. Introduce the children in your life to this miracle of nature, or grow fresh peas just because they taste so good. Snow peas, which do well in pots, are the answer if you lack space.
Flowers to sow in April - Cornflower
Cornflower is an old favourite that adds trendy blue touches to the garden. ‘Mystic Blue’ is the romantically named blue cornflower in Yates seed range but, if you want more than just blue, sow Cornflower ‘Double Mixed’, which blooms in a variety of colours.
Feed in April – Happy birthday Thrive
When planting out flower seedlings for a winter/spring display, settle them in by watering with some Thrive. Thrive, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year, has long been used by professional gardeners to kick-start new plantings. Choose from the traditional Thrive powder or the new liquid concentrates.
Prune in April
The autumn tidy up continues in April. Cut off dead flowers, long whippy shoots and anything tired or burnt. Heavier pruning is best left until later in the year.
April pest watch - Black spot, codling moth
Remove black-spot-infected leaves from roses and pick off any other plant parts that are showing signs of fungus. Don’t put diseased leaves or flowers into the compost. It’s best to wrap them in plastic and drop them safely in the bin. Use new Success Ultra to control codling moth in apples and pears.
April job file - Check container plants
If plants have been in the same pot for a number of years, this is a good time to take them out and check the roots. Trim off anything that’s damaged or rotten. If the potting soil is full of compacted roots, loosen them gently or use a sharp knife to cut through the outer edges of the root ball. Pot into fresh mix and, if necessary , into a larger pot filled with good quality Yates Premium potting mix.
Plant of the month – Plectranthus
Plectranthus are warm climate, soft leafed plants that mostly bloom in shades of blue or lilac. One of the best for home gardens is Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’ that grows up to about a metre and does well in semi shade. ‘Mona Lavender’ was bred at the famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town, South Africa. The Australian native Plectranthus agentatus has silver leaves that light up shady corners.
Week 2: Autumn lawn care
April’s an important month for the lawn because, in most areas, it’s the last chance to get the lawn into shape before winter. Feeding, weeding, pest control, patching and thickening are the lawn activities that should be completed before the arrival of very cold weather.
If you’re in a relatively warm area where the lawn is still actively growing, there’s plenty of time to feed with a long term lawn food such as Lawn Master Slow Release. This will continue fertilising for almost three months, taking it well into winter.
In cooler climates you’ll want something that acts much more quickly so that you can get maximum growth before winter. Hose on Lawn Master Rapid is the answer because it’s applied as a liquid that gets quickly into the grass. In most cases, new growth will begin to appear within a matter of days.
A selective weedkiller removes broad leafed weeds such as dandelions, clover, cudweed, daisies and others from the lawn, thus giving the grass a chance to fill the gaps before the cold weather. Yates Weed ‘n’ Feed is a one-step fertiliser and weeding product, but read instructions carefully to make sure it suits your lawn. If you don’t know what type of grass you have, take a piece to the shop so that you can get it identified. Buffalo and other broad-leafed grasses are particularly sensitive to some herbicides but Yates BuffaloPro, which comes in a concentrate or a ready-to-use hose on, is suitable for all grass types.
Paspalum and summer grass are invasive pest grasses that grow well in the warm weather. Don’t let them flower and seed or they’ll be with you again next year. Cut the clumps off at ground level with a hoe or sharp knife.
Getting rid of lawn insect pests is easy these days with the help of Yates Complete Lawn Insect Control. The 500mL hose on container covers 150 square metres and can be used to treat common insect pests such as black beetle, army worm, cut worm and curl grubs. One treatment lasts for months.
Lawn fungal diseases are difficult to identify but if you see regular dead patches, sometimes accompanied by a cobwebby effect on the lawn, it’s likely that a disease has taken hold. The problem will often disappear as the weather cools but, if it continues, it may be worth treating with Mancozeb Plus or systemic Zaleton.
Patching and thickening
April’s a good month to fix holes in the lawn or thicken the grass while there’s still growing time. Yates Easy Patch, a mix of lawn seed, fertiliser, soil wetter and coir peat, is ideal for filling the gaps left by dead weeds or damage. Simply soften the soil, sprinkle Easy Patch, keep moist and watch the grass grow.
Yates Lawn Smart All Seasons is a hardy seed blend that can be used to oversow and thicken thin lawns.
Week 3: April’s the month to get plants moving
There are many reasons for moving a plant. A garden owner may want to give the garden a makeover. Others may have found that they’ve ended up with the wrong plant in the wrong place. Whatever the reason, autumn’s the season. The days are cooler but there’s still enough warmth in the soil for plants to settle in quickly.
Don’t forget that moving plants always entails some risk, so don’t even start to think about it unless you’re prepared to take that risk. If you have plenty of time, a couple of months beforehand you can use a sharp spade to cut down around an imaginary circle that rings around the base of the plant. This way the roots will have time to re-grow closer in to the trunk, making the plant much easier to move. Most of us won’t have the luxury of that amount of time, however, and will have to take other steps to improve our chances.
The first thing to do is to select the new spot and get it ready by mixing in old organic matter, pre-swollen water crystals and some Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food. The day before the move, give the plant and the new planting spot a good drink. This allows time for any excess water to drain off overnight. Next morning, spray a layer of Yates DroughtShield over the leaves of the plant. This clever product cuts down on water loss from the leaves and helps compensate for any lost roots.
Carefully dig under the roots, keeping root disturbance at a minimum. Use strong plastic or hessian to wrap the roots so that they remain as intact as possible. Remember that a plant complete with roots and soil can be surprisingly heavy, so make sure you have enough hands on deck to help.
Settle the plant into its new position, ensuring that it faces the same direction as it did before the move. Trim any obviously damaged roots and branches. Backfill the soil into the planting hole, check that the roots are not planted any more deeply than they were, and water thoroughly. This helps to remove air pockets and settles the soil around the roots.
There are two things you can do that will further improve your chances of success. One is to apply a soil wetter such as Yates Waterwise over the root area. This ensures that water moves into the root ball, rather than running uselessly to the soft soil outside. The other is to give the plant some sort of seaweed tonic every week or so. Seaweed contains natural plant hormones that stimulate root growth.
Other factors can enhance your success rate. For example, small plants move more readily than larger ones. Plants with shallow roots, such as camellias and azaleas, move fairly easily. Don’t worry too much if the plant’s in flower at the time of the move. You may lose a few of the flowers but, other than that, it won’t really matter.
Some natives, particularly those with specialised root systems such as banksias, grevilleas and other members of the protea family, can be difficult to move, especially if they are of any size. Fibrous-rooted plants, such as palms and dracaenas, are easy while they’re small but, because of their weight, will need to be machine dug if they’re of any size. Deciduous plants, those that lose their leaves in winter, are always easiest to move when they’re in their dormant winter period.
Week 4: Remembrance plants for Anzac Day
Anzac Day this year will be a particularly poignant occasion as it will be 100 years since the start of World War 1, which was heartbreakingly dubbed ‘the war to end all wars’. While there’ll be all sorts of commemorations taking place, one simple thing you can do in your own backyard is to make a remembrance planting to mark this anniversary. Depending on your space, you may choose a tree or something as small as a flowering plant. It’s not the size or longevity that counts, but the significance to yourself and your family.
Here are some suggestions for remembrance plants:
* Rosemary’s probably the first plant that leaps to mind, because rosemary has been used as a symbol of remembrance since ancient times. These days it’s easy to find a spot for rosemary in the garden because there’s such a proliferation of varieties, large and small.
* Cistus, or rock rose, became known as the Gallipoli rose because it grew and flowered so profusely on the Gallipoli hillsides. This pretty little Mediterranean shrub has slightly hairy leaves, and flowers that look just like pink or white single roses. Cistus does best in full sun in cool winter, dry summer climates and looks attractive in a pot. Dress with Yates Garden Lime once a year. Apart from the occasional light trim, the plant will only need a sprinkle with Dynamic Lifter Plus Flower Food every now and then. Plant now, and your rock rose will be nicely established in time for next year’s Gallipoli centenary.
* Forget me not – Forget me not’s name instantly associates the plant with remembrance. It’s so-named because it’s said that, once you have these pretty spring flowers in your garden, they’re with you forever. While individual plants are short-lived, they seed so profusely that they come up again and again. Yates packet seed range includes Forget Me Not Little Bluebird, a sweetly named variety that makes a great filler for a flower border.
* White lilies often appear in lists of plants for remembrance. The all-time favourite is the perfumed Lilium longiflorum, which is variously known as November lily or Christmas lily, depending on the climate in which it’s grown. April’s a great time of year to look for lilium bulbs and there are lots of colours and shapes available. But it’s hard to beat this traditional white favourite that in late spring, early summer sends up metre-tall stems topped with classic, fragrant, icy white trumpets.
* Flanders poppies are the plants most associated with the First World War battlefields and the trenches of Western Europe. It’s thought that the soil disturbance caused mass germination of poppy seeds. Subsequently, their blood-red flowers – often marked with a black cross – became symbols of the massive loss of life. This association was further cemented after the war’s end when red paper poppies were sold as fund raisers for the wounded and damaged survivors. Sow Yates Flanders Poppy seeds into pots of Yates Seed Raising Mix and transplant carefully when the seedlings are large enough to handle. If sown in April, poppy seedlings will be ready to be planted out into a sunny, sheltered spot in the garden after the soil has cooled.
Lavender Fields in France
Photos from Judy's European trip
For more information contact Judy Horton (02) 97949481 email@example.com
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.auDiana Cherry Monday 27 January, 2014 - 10:40 AM