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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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November Gardening

Week 1:    November gardening

Summer’s on its way, so make sure you enjoy the last month of spring in the garden.

Vegies to sow in November - Patio Tomatoes

Yates Patio Tomato has been bred specially for pots, which is why it’s such a popular choice for growing on balconies and patios.  The plant itself is a compact grower that doesn’t need staking, and the smallish round tomatoes have a rich flavour.  Don’t forget to use some Yates Tomato & Vegetable Dust to protect the plants from pests and diseases.

Flowers to sow in November - Purple Basil

Grown more for its leafy ornamental display than its flowers, Yates Purple Basil is great for adding contrasting colour to the garden.  For example, the purple leaves look stunning next to grey-leafed herbs (pictured), yellow sedum or golden heliotrope.  And the bonus is that you can eat the spicy purple leaves.

Feed in November – Roses

If you keep feeding your roses with liquid Thrive Concentrate for Flowers, they’ll continue blooming for months.  The added potassium in this form of Thrive will ensure the plants are stronger, too. Just remember to encourage new shoots by continually removing dead blooms.

Prune in November

Prune rambling roses and any rose varieties that only flower once in spring.  Other spring blooming shrubs (such as wisteria, echium, eriostemon or diosma) can be trimmed after flowering, too.

November pest watch – White flies

White flies are some of the most annoying pests in the garden.  They’re particularly hard to treat because the tiny, moth-like creatures fly away in droves as soon as you come near them.  Yates Nature’s Way Insect & Mite Killer Natrasoap will reduce their numbers, but make sure you always spray beneath the leaves where the white flies are hiding.  And there’s no withholding period so you can eat the herbs or vegies straight after spraying.

November job file - Hedges

Check your hedges at this time of year.  Trim to tidy up the new growth that’s developed this spring.  Search for and remove any weeds growing in the shelter of the hedge.  Feed with Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food and, if necessary, renew the layer of mulch over the roots.

Plant of the month – Mexican orange blossom

Mexican orange blossom (Choysia ternata) is a citrus relative with glossy, green, 3-part leaves and perfumed white flowers that are very attractive to bees and other friendly insects.  This neat shrub tolerates light frosts and makes an attractive tub specimen.  Prune after flowering and, as you do, enjoy the scent of the oil-filled leaves.  


Week 2:  Garden colour for the shade

As summer gets closer, shade becomes more precious in the garden.  But gardening in the shade presents some special challenges.

First of all, it’s important to select plants that are suited to the low light sections of the garden.   Shade gardens tend to have more green than colour but, by choosing carefully, you can still brighten up those shaded sections. 

Plants growing under trees must be able to compete with the tree’s roots.  Strappy-leafed plants such as clivias, liriope or libertia do well in these situations - their fleshy roots seem able to extract sufficient water.  Another option is to strategically place pots filled with short term colour beneath the trees, and change them frequently.  In warmer areas, bromeliads can be a good choice.  Many broms are epiphytes – i.e. they grow naturally on trees – so they don’t require much root room.  Gingers and their relatives, too, can fill gaps beneath trees or pergolas in frost free gardens.

 Some easy-to-grow foliage plants look wonderful in the summer garden.  Coleus, with its varied leaf patterns, is a good example.  Coleus grows readily from seed, which makes it a reasonably economical solution to filling a shady area.  Sow coleus seeds into starter trays, grow on in pots and transplant once the seedlings are a good size.

Iresine, which has the charmless common name of bloodleaf, is another good filler for shaded parts of the garden.  It can become a permanent feature in warmer areas but will need to be replanted each year where winters are cold.  Fortunately iresine grows readily from cuttings.

Begonias come in a very wide range of shapes and sizes so there’s one to be found for just about any garden.  The tall-growing angel’s wing begonias are some of the most striking.  Not only do they have attractively coloured leaves, they produce hanging clusters of pink or white flowers.  Begonias are susceptible to fungal diseases, especially powdery mildew, so check them regularly and use a Rose Gun Advanced at the first signs of disease.

Possibly the most flowery plant choices for summer shade are the impatiens.  Although the old ‘busy Lizzie’ type of impatiens has become scarce since downy mildew fungus arrived in Australia almost ten years ago, busy Lizzie seeds are available in Yates seed range so it’s still possible to grow your own from seed.  Keep the plants strong by feeding with high potash Thrive Flower & Fruit and watch carefully for any signs of disease.  Use Mancozeb Plus for control.   The good news is that the bright, cheery, large-flowered New Guinea impatiens aren’t susceptible to downy mildew disease.  New Guinea impatiens don’t grow from seed, however, but can be struck easily from cuttings.

Don’t forget, too, that you can cheat and add a little bit of colour to those shaded parts of the garden by hanging streamers or bunting from trees, setting up mirrors to reflect what light is there, or using coloured pots.  Let your imagination take you on a journey to brighten up your shady garden.


Week 3: Gardenias are warm weather favourites

Gardenias have become firm favourites with Australian gardeners.  Their evergreen good looks and their refined, white, stunningly perfumed flowers have seen their popularity skyrocket in recent years.

In many parts we are anxiously waiting for the first gardenia flowers to appear.  Gardenias will grow well out of their preferred tropical or warm climate native habitat, even tolerating a little frost, but they can be slow to bloom in cooler areas.   Best flowering occurs when days are warm and nights are still reasonably cool. Usually by Christmas time gardenias are in full bloom.

To flower well, most gardenias need some sun.  They’ll grow in full sun in cooler areas but, in most climates, their favourite aspect is morning sun and afternoon shade.

Water the plant regularly but make sure the water can drain away. Dry gardenias will drop their buds and, possibly, even some of their leaves.  Mulch over the root system with an organic layer (milled cow manure is ideal) and make sure that potted gardenias, particularly, aren’t allowed to dry out between waterings. 

When potting up gardenias, dig some pre-soaked Yates Waterwise Water Storing crystals into the potting mix – they’ll help hold extra moisture.  In very dry climates it can also be helpful to mist spray water over the leaves on hot days, although not when the sun is directly hitting the plant.

Feed gardenia plants a couple of times a year with a slow acting, general fertiliser such as Acticote or Dynamic Lifter Flower Food. Another option is to feed every two weeks through spring, summer and autumn with a liquid like Thrive Liquid for Roses & Flowers.  Gardenias prefer an acidic soil so, if necessary, treat with Yates Liquid Sulfur to lower pH. 

Sometimes in spring the old leaves of gardenias turn yellow.  This is usually caused by the magnesium in the older leaves moving into the new ones. Mostly the problem rights itself as the weather gets warmer, but a spring treat with Yates fast-acting liquid Magnesium Chelate can hasten the improvement.

Watch for scale and sooty mould on the leaves.   Spray with PestOil or Scale Gun and wait for a number of weeks until, after the scales have died, the mould gradually falls away.

Gardenias will take quite hard pruning, which can be done in late winter/early spring in most areas. Autumn pruning works well in warm climates. There are many gardenia cultivars but the perennial favourite is Gardenia augusta ‘Florida’, a medium grower with mid-sized blooms.  Gardenia radicans is a hardy little ground cover and the new ‘O So Fine’ has smaller leaves and a softer overall appearance.

There are some taller growing gardenias such as Gardenia magnifica or G. Professor Pucci.  And if you have lots of room and want something really different, grow the tall (to 3-4m,  South African gardenia called Gardenia thunbergia. 


Week 4: Sweet corn season

Want to know how to get kids to eat their vegies? Feed them sweet corn – it’s the vegie that kids most love.  Sweet corn is easy to grow but, if your kids are really keen, remember that each corn plant will only produce one or two cobs so you’ll need plenty of plants.

Corn likes a nice sunny spot with some protection from strong winds.  It also requires rich, fertile soil, which means preparing well beforehand by digging in lots of manure or compost and adding some quality fertiliser.  Dynamic Lifter PLUS Vegie Food would be a great fertiliser choice because it combines composted chicken manure with added nutrients.

While corn is a heat loving plant that grows easily from seed, the seeds won’t germinate until the soil is warm.  This is why November’s the ideal month to sow in most areas.  Even then, the seeds can be a bit finicky so it’s often suggested to sow two seeds into the one hole.  This doubles your chances of successful germination and, if both seeds come up, the weaker of the two plants can be removed.  Plant more seeds every few weeks to ensure continuous cropping through the warm weather.

Yates has three varieties of sweet corn in its seed range.  Early Chief, with its bright yellow kernels, is the traditional favourite.  Honeysweet and Sun ’n’ Snow are supersweet varieties with a very high proportion of natural sugar in their cobs.  Sun ‘n’ Snow, with its mix of yellow and white kernels, is appropriately named. 

Corn’s growth will be set back if the plants lack fertiliser or get too dry.   Keep well watered and, as the seedlings grow, mulch around the base of the plant with something like sugar cane or straw.  The most important role of the mulch layer is to retain moisture in the soil.  Feed every two weeks with some Thrive Soluble Plant Food or the new Thrive Liquid Concentrate All Purpose.

The tassels that form at the top of the plant carry the all important pollen which must fall onto the silks, the thread-like pieces that come out of the incipient corn cob.  Each silk carries the pollen back to a kernel, which then begins to swell.  That’s why it’s so important to grow corn in blocks rather than single rows.  Missing ‘teeth’ in your corn cob means there’s been a problem with pollination. Shaking the corn stalks will send clouds of pollen flying around and increase the chances of successful pollination. 

When the silks turn brown, the cob is ready to pick.  Another way to tell if the corn is ready is to press the end of your fingernail into a kernel.  The fluid you squeeze out should be milky.  If it’s still clear, the corn isn’t ready. 

Pests don’t usually cause too many problems for sweet corn although corn earworm, a caterpillar that eats the kernels from within the protection of the husk, can be annoying.  Cut away the affected section and try to prevent further incursions by protecting with a low toxic pyrethrum spray. 

December 2014 

Week 1:  December gardening                    

December’s a busy month, with Christmas, holidays and major spurts of plant growth all occurring at the same time.  Fortunately, a summer evening is a particularly pleasant time of day to catch up with some garden tasks.

Vegies to sow in December – Chillis grow easily from seed in the warmer weather, which is why December’s the perfect month to get them started.  Even if you only have a tiny garden, you can still grow a few chillis.   Long Red Cayenne chilli in the Yates seed range is popular because it’s versatile as well as attractive.  The finger-shaped chillis can be picked when they’re mild and green or left until they’re a fiery, ripe red.  Habanero is another choice – this time for those who like their chillis extra hot.

Flowers to sow in December – Sunflowers are always summer favourites to grow from seed.  Yates Yellow Empress is a tall grower that makes a statement in any garden.   

Feed in December – The lawn will appreciate another post-spring feed with slow release Yates Lawn Master.  And, if you want an additional pick-me-up to get the lawn looking at its best in time for Christmas entertaining, spray with fast-acting Yates Lawn Master Rapid.  It will green up the lawn in a matter of days.

Prune in December - Tidy clumps of flowering plants that have finished their major blooming.  Delphiniums, campanulas and many salvias can all be cut right to ground level at this time.  Follow up with a good feed with Dynamic Lifter PLUS Flower Food to promote new growth.   

December pest watch - December’s an important month for citrus care.  In humid climates use Yates Leaf Curl fungicide to control scab, rots and spots.  PestOil will help take care of scale and leaf miner.  Applying Nature’s Way Fruit Fly Control will provide protection from fruit fly for all developing fruit.

December job file – December’s the month to think about watering and mulching.  Here are some tips:

* Water in the morning or evening, rather than in the middle of the day. 

* Give plants good soakings - which are better than short, shallow bursts - and allow them to dry out between waterings. 

* Avoid watering onto the leaves of disease-prone plants such as roses (especially late in the day).

* Renew a layer of organic mulch over the root areas of shrubs and perennials. 

* Be especially vigilant about watering pots – they dry out much more quickly than garden beds.

Plant of the month: Hydrangeas, with their fat, mophead flowers, look stunning in a moist, lightly shaded position.  And, with luck and not too much harsh sunshine, the blooms will stay looking attractive for months.  Yates DroughtShield can help keep them looking good.


Week 2: Summer gardening


Summer can be the most difficult season in the Australian garden but, with its abundance of colour and lots of growth, it can also be one of the most rewarding.

Summer colour to enjoy:

* With their colorful, long-lasting bracts, bougainvilleas make great choices for hot, sunny spots.   And these days there are lots of dwarf varieties that do well in pots.   

* Other climbers such as mandevillas, Chinese trumpet creeper (Campsis grandiflora) and Pandorea jasminoides are looking at their best.

* Hibiscus, lavender, roses, plumbago and gardenias add colour and (sometimes) fragrance to the garden, especially in the evening.

* Pots can be filled with daisies, marigolds, nasturtiums, zinnias, daylilies and agapanthus. 

* Grevilleas, tree waratah, brachyscome, scaevola and NSW Christmas bush are busy proving that natives are as showy as any of the imports.


Summer pests to deal with:

* Caterpillars that are damaging leaves can be squashed by hand but, if numbers start to escalate, control with non toxic Yates Nature’s Way Dipel or naturally derived Success Ultra.

* Mites discolour and weaken leaves, especially during dry weather.  Beans are commonly attacked. Spray under affected leaves with Yates Nature’s Way Insect & Mite Killer Natrasoap.  Regularly mist spraying water over the leaves can help, too.

* The same treatment helps with controlling white flies.  These annoying little sap suckers weaken plants and carry disease from one plant to another.  

* Use Yates Rose Gun Advanced to take care of a wide range of pests and diseases on ornamental (non edible) plants.    Azalea lace bug, hibiscus flower beetles and aphids are common examples.

Summer plant diseases:

* Many diseases flourish in the warm summer weather.  One of the worst is rose black spot.  Keep rose leaves dry, pick flowers often, feed well (Dynamic Lifter PLUS Flower Food) and spray regularly with Rose Gun Advanced or Rose Shield. 

* Powdery mildew is a particular problem for cucurbits, the summer-loving members of the pumpkin family.  As the summer progresses, this disease causes powdery blotches to develop on the leaves.  Water at the base of the plant, keeping leaves dry and, if the problem persists, spray with Yates Lime Sulfur.  Lime Sulfur’s low toxicity means there’s no withholding period – you can pick and eat your squashes, cucumbers and zucchinis straight after spraying.

Most importantly, use common sense when you’re working in the summer garden.  Don’t toil in the heat of the day, wear a hat and sunscreen, and have drinking water nearby.  Better still, do your gardening in the cool of the evening!


Week 3: Summer rose care

Summer, when the warmth of the sun encourages waves of blooms, is the peak of rose season. But summer can also be a challenging time of year for roses.  Don’t neglect them at this time, because a little extra care will pay handsome dividends.

Watering roses

Well established roses can be quite drought resistant but they appreciate an extra drink when it’s hot and dry. But did you know that the spores of black spot, the most hated of rose fungal diseases, can only germinate if there’s moisture on the leaf for about seven hours and if the temperature is about 18°C?  This stringent-sounding set of requirements is easily met on a moderately warm summer night, which is why it’s so important to water roses in the morning – it allows time for the leaves to dry before nightfall.  And, obviously, if you can water at the base without wetting the leaves, that’s even more helpful.   

Mulching roses

A layer of organic mulch spread around a rose will help stop weeds and keep the soil cooler and moister.  The advantage of an organic mulch is that it eventually breaks down to improve the soil.  Many gardeners use lucerne hay to mulch roses. It’s relatively expensive but, because lucerne’s a legume, it adds extra nitrogen, a major plant food.  Other mulches can also do a good job.   It’s often a matter of what’s the easiest mulch for you to get hold of.

Fertilising roses

Roses are often described as ‘hungry’ plants.  This means that they need plenty of fertilising during their growing period.  And most roses are repeat flowerers that will bloom again and again through the warmer weather.  A well formulated fertiliser like Dynamic Lifter PLUS Flower Food will support all that growth and bloom production.  Potted roses are usually more easily fed with a liquid such as the new Thrive Concentrate for Roses and Flowers.  Remember, though, that any liquid will have to be applied regularly – at least once a fortnight.   Then stop feeding altogether during the rose’s winter dormant period.

Rose pest and disease control

Pests and diseases love roses as much as we do.  They can be frustrating but there are lots of things you can do to keep them at bay.  Grow roses in full sun with plenty of air space around them.  Cut back often – not just in winter but throughout the growing season.  Fertilise well.  Accept the fact that, as summer progresses, especially in humid climates, diseases will start to take hold.  Use a good quality rose fungicide on a regular basis.  Yates Rose Gun Advanced has a systemic fungicide combined with an insecticide and a miticide. Rose Shield is a concentrate combination that suits larger gardens.   Every so often try some Triforine.  It, too, is a systemic fungicide, but one that approaches the disease in a different way.      


Week 4:  Purple and red add dashing colour to the summer garden

Once we were almost totally reliant on flowers to give us colour in the garden, but there are now plenty of foliage plants that add contrasting splashes.  And, even better, many of these plants continue providing colour for much of the year.  The striking hot colours of red and purple are particular favourites and there are plenty of popular choices available.

The red-leafed forms of Japanese maple bring a touch of Japanese refinement to the garden. Their soft delicacy is likely to be damaged by strong sunlight, so make sure they are placed where they’re protected from the worst of the heat.  Weeping maples grow well in large pots filled with a quality potting mix such as Yates Premium.  A monthly spray with Yates DroughtShield right through the summer period will help the leaves to stay looking fresh.

Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’ is a small deciduous tree with heart shaped, maroon-red leaves from spring through to autumn.  Leaf colour and plant growth are always better in cooler climates but, if well cared for, ‘Forest Pansy’ will survive in warmer gardens.   Put it in a spot where it gets morning sun and some shelter in the early afternoon and, before planting, add plenty of organic matter to the soil.  Apply Waterwise Soil Wetter into the top of the root area and mulch with an organic layer.  

Another deciduous shrub/small tree is the smokebush, Cotinus coggygria ‘Grace’, with reddish purple leaves that turn shades of orange before falling in autumn.  It’s an ideal choice to add a splash of colour to a small garden.

The Chinese fringe flower, Loropetalum chinense, is a hardy feature shrub that usually has green leaves and white feathery spring flowers.  But a new version, called ‘Plum Gorgeous’, has been winning favour all over Australia because of its deep red leaves (that stay on the plant year round) and its candy pink blooms.  ‘Plum Gorgeous’ looks especially attractive when grown to contrast with chartreuse or grey-leafed plants.  

When it comes to perennials and accent plants, red-leafed cordylines are some of the most versatile.  Broad-leafed tropical cordylines catch the eye in frost free gardens.  Coloured leaf forms of their New Zealand counterparts are much more cold tolerant and recent breeding has introduced a range of new cultivars.  Use Rose Gun Advanced to treat any fungal spots.

Red-leafed cannas and dahlias flourish during the warmer months.  Nowadays these late summer bloomers are grown just as often for their foliage statements, as they are for their flower show.  Grassy clumps of Pennisetum ‘Rubrum’, variously called ‘purple fountain grass’ or ‘red fountain grass’ make soft mounds that wave in the slightest breeze.  Cut these to ground level in late winter, feed with Dynamic Lifer pellets and they’ll produce a new crop of fine, richly coloured foliage.   New forms of New Zealand flax and our native Australian dianellas are also available in plum-coloured varieties.

For ground covers in warmer areas look for the deep purple Tradescantia pallida with its delicate mauve flowers.  Where it’s cooler, maroon coloured heucheras work well.

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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