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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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July 2014

Week 1: July gardening 

Although cold  July is a challenging month for the garden, if you can find sheltered spots that are away from the worst of the cold and winter winds you can still enjoy plenty of colour and produce.  

Vegies to sow in July - Carrots

Sow carrots in July but, if soil is very cold, it’s safest to sow carrot seed into pots filled with good potting mix.  The carrots will be happier in this slightly warmer environment.  If your pot or garden bed is shallow, stick to small-growing Baby Carrots or, better still, the ball-shaped Parisian Round Carrot that’s found in Yates seed range.  It’s exotically different. 

Flowers to sow in July – Dianthus

Dianthus is a carnation relative that develops a succession of cheery, fragrant blooms.  Our favourite is Yates Dianthus Blush Pink, a unique flower that opens white and gradually changes to a strong pink, with many shades in between.  Best of all, forty cents from each packet sold goes to support Breast Cancer Network Australia. 

Feed in July – Growing bulbs

As bulb shoots develop, feed with one of the new Thrive Liquids such as Thrive Roses & Flowers.  It’s high in potassium so will strengthen the stems of floppy bulbs, as well as enhancing their flowering.  Do the same for spring flowering annuals to help them develop a strong framework before they start to bloom. 

Prune in July

July is rose pruning month, except in cold climates where it’s better to wait until just before the last frost is expected.    

July pest watch

Check camellias for signs of leaf-spoiling sap suckers such as thrips and tea mite.  Prune camellias (if required) after flowering, feed with Dynamic Lifter Plus Flower Food and spray new growth with a protective layer of Yates Insect & Mite Killer Natrasoap.  Use Zaleton fungicide to protect azalea flowers from petal blight, the disease that turns the blooms into mush. 

July job file

Plant hippeastrum and amaryllis (naked lady) bulbs into well drained, sunny spots with their ‘necks’ protruding out of the ground.  

Plant of the month - Lemon trees

When they’re covered with sunny-coloured ripe fruit, lemon trees create their own brand of winter sunshine.  It’s handy, too, that they’re in fruit when winter coughs and colds are at their peak - sipping a hot honey and lemon juice blend is a soothing natural remedy.  ‘Meyer’ lemon suits smaller gardens or pots.  ‘Eureka’, ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Villa Franca’ are larger growers with sharp, lemony fruit.  These days some of these bigger varieties are available on dwarfing rootstocks.  


Week 2: Camellias in the landscape 

There’s nothing like a camellia for adding cheer to the garden at this time of year.  And, because they’ll grow in quite shady spots, camellias can bring colour to what might otherwise be a dull part of the garden.  In fact, camellias can play useful roles in many parts of a landscape. 

Camellias in pots

For example, camellias, with their glossy leaves and neat shapes, make excellent pot plants.  The smaller-growing varieties are the best to choose, but even larger growers can be kept pruned to a manageable size.  Buy a quality potting mix and, as added insurance to keep leaves healthy, treat at least once a year with Yates Acitone or some Iron Chelates.   Fertilise two or three times a year with Dynamic Lifter Flower Food.  Keep well watered, but don’t let water sit in a saucer at the base of the pot. Either empty the saucer after the pot drains or put a layer of pebbles in the saucer to keep the bottom of the pot above the water level.  Yates Tuscan Edge self watering pots have a built in drainage feature that helps keep the mix from becoming waterlogged. 

Camellias as features

Camellias can be pruned and trained into special shapes to make them eye-catching specimens in the garden.  If you have Japanese-style patience and commitment, you could try pruning a small-leafed sasanqua into a cloud tree, with cumulus-like bunches on the ends of horizontal branches. 

Perhaps a little easier- and certainly faster – would be to train the camellia as an espalier against a wall, fence or piece of lattice.  Espalier is a term that means pruning to grow a plant in one horizontal dimension.  The species Camellia lutchuensis, with its tiny, white, fragrant flowers, has flexible branches that make it ideal for this use.   

Camellias as ground covers

‘Marge Miller’ is a prosaically named camellia variety with horizontal growth that spills attractively over banks and down the sides of pots. This Australian introduction, which has now spread around the world, is often grafted onto an upright stem to make a beautiful weeper.  ‘Classique’ is another low grower that spreads to cover a garden bed or pot. 

Camellias as hedges

Autumn flowering sasanqua camellias are usually the first choice for a hedge because they’re faster growing, have smaller leaves and are more sun tolerant than the slower japonicas. In a shady part of a larger garden, however, japonicas can make a substantial hedge that will produce showy flowers right through winter. 

Camellias as specimen trees

A free standing camellia makes a lovely small specimen tree but it will usually need some pruning to get it into shape.  Regular removal of the lower branches helps establish and maintain a clean trunk (this is called ‘lifting the skirt’).  The large flowered reticulata camellias are a good choice for this situation because they develop a natural tree shape as they mature. 

Feed camellias after flowering with Dynamic Lifter Plus Flower Food.  Prune if necessary and use a Yates Rose Gun Advanced to control pests and diseases. 


Week 3: Rose pruning time 

July is the peak of rose pruning time in most parts of the country, but there are exceptions. Roses that produce all of their flowers in one glorious massed show in spring – many of the heritage roses fall into this category – should be pruned after their spring flowering.   And, in cold areas that experience heavy frosts in August and September, it’s safest to delay pruning until just a few weeks before the last frost is expected.  Otherwise the new growth that’s stimulated by pruning will be cut back by the late frosts. 

Start by gathering the equipment that you’ll require.  Most important is a good pair of gloves that will protect your hands from the thorny rose stems.  Sharp secateurs are essential and a pruning saw is useful for cutting out old wood.  Long-handled loppers could replace the saw, but a saw with a narrow blade will often make more accurate cuts.     

Use the saw to remove any of the oldest wood completely from the base of the rose.  This allows the newer, more vigorous shoots to take over.  Then, with the secateurs, take out anything that’s dead, very thin or criss-crossing through the centre of the bush.   Remaining branches should all be relatively young – no more than three years old – and vigorous.  These can be shortened by about one third, with the cut just above an outward facing bud.   

Make adjustments, of course, for special roses such as miniatures, climbers and standards.  Standards, roses that are grafted on top of a straight stems, are pruned just like their bush equivalents but take care to avoid cutting below the graft or you’ll lose all  of your pretty top.  Miniatures, because of their close growth, can be a bit difficult to prune.  An overall trim is the most practical way of dealing with them but it does help, if possible, to completely remove any dead sections.    

Climbing roses are challenging, too.  The rambling types that only flower in spring (such as ‘Dorothy Perkins’) are pruned after flowering.  Long-blooming climbers can be pruned in winter, but some growers prefer to leave them until the first main flower flush in spring.  Apart from that, the rules are the same but it’s always helpful with climbers if you can tie any branches into a horizontal position.  This is more likely to encourage short, flower-bearing shoots.  

Disease and pest control

Ideally, between each cut, dip the blades of your secateurs into a solution of disinfectant.  If this is too much trouble, at least try to dip and wipe the blades after you have finished each rose, before you move onto the next.   Pick up all the fallen leaves, especially if they show signs of disease, and put them into a plastic bag.  Leave these in the sun to cook and reduce in size before binning.  Put the pruned rose stems into the green waste bin – it’s said that it’s almost impossible for rose thorns to break down in a backyard compost system. 

After the job is done, spray all over the plants with Yates Lime Sulfur.  This disinfects the rose, treats rose scale and gives the plant a clean bill of health to start the new season.  Do this while the rose is still leafless; otherwise the Lime Sulfur can burn tender new growth.  

When the soil starts to warm up, feed the rose plants with some Dynamic Lifter Flower Food and renew a layer of organic mulch over their roots.     


Week 4: The winter orchard 

Winter’s a very busy season in the home orchard. 


Citrus are at their peak in winter.  The harvest can extend over many months, usually starting with mandarins in autumn and carrying through until the last oranges are picked in mid to late summer. Other trees, like Eureka lemons, seem to bear fruit practically all year round.   

Feed citrus in late July or August with a good quality fertiliser.  Dynamic Lifter Plus Fruit Food is ideal as it combines composted chicken manure with added fruit-promoting nutrients.  

 Winter is a good season to get an early start on cleaning up pests and diseases.  A mid-winter spray with Yates Lime Sulfur will remove the persistent white louse scale that sticks so firmly to the main trunk and stems.  And a scrub with an old nail brush will hasten the scale’s departure. 

Citrus can be pruned after harvest. Pruning isn’t strictly necessary but it can help to open up the plant and remove old citrus leaf miner damage.  Cut off branches with this season’s gall wasp swellings before winter’s end. 

Stone fruit and pomes (apples and pears)

Peaches and nectarines that weren’t pruned after fruiting should be cut back now.  Have some Yates Liquid Copper on hand to spray the plants as the buds swell, before the leaves and flowers start to open.  

 Remove ‘mummies’, the shriveled, dried fruit that hang on the tree and can become a source of fungal infection as the new leaves emerge. 

Plant bare-rooted fruit trees.  Dwarf fruit trees are ideally suited to small gardens. If you need more than one variety for cross pollination (as with apples, pears, cherries etc.), try planting two trees together in the same planting hole.  It can be surprisingly successful.  

A July spray with Yates White Oil will get rid of over-wintering scale insects. 

Berries and climbers

Prune currants, raspberries and other caney berries by shortening shoots and taking out old canes at the base.  

Plant passionfruit vines and, towards the end of winter, feed established passionfruit (again with Dynamic Lifter Plus Fruit Food).  

Prune grape wines and use the cuttings to grow new vines for friends.  Grapes grow very easily from bare, hardwood shoots - but make sure you plant them the right way up!  Spray grapes just before bud burst with Yates Lime Sulfur to control mites and other pests. 

Tropical fruit

Keep well watered if conditions are dry.  Renew mulch layers over roots. Tidy pineapples and bananas. Plant new trees such as mangoes and pawpaws.   


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



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  


Follow JudyHorton_ on Twitter


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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