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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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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.


Coming events: 

• This weekend 19 & 20 April Dennarque and Koonawarra at Mt Wilson are open.

Dennarque is very rarely opened. Funds to Rural Fire Service. 

• This weekend Open Gardens Australia Bisley Mount Irvine Road Mt Wilson.

English country park. Sunstone Lodge 30 Taylor St Woodford. Views to Sydney. 

• Mayfield Oberon – 22 – 24 Apr. 26 & 27 April. Mon 28 – Frid 2 May Sat 3rd Sun 4th 

• Next weekend 26 & 27 April Southern Highlands Open Gardens Town & Country weekend. Eight gardens open. $30. Go to the Visitors Centre in Mittagong or visit www.shbg.com.au. Rain, hail, shine.


April 2014

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. 

Pest control

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. 


May 2014

Week 1: May Gardening 

In May, as the days shorten and the temperatures drop, the garden readies itself for winter. 

Vegies to sow in May – Onions and spring onions  Onions grow through the cooler months and form bulbs in spring when the days get longer.  Yates Hunter River White and Hunter River Brown are good varieties to sow in May in most districts.  If you aren’t confident about growing bulb-forming onions, sow some spring onion seed instead.  Spring onions are very easy and a lot quicker.  

Flowers to sow in May – Foxgloves  Foxgloves have tall spires that are decorated with flattened bells in pastel shades of pink, white and cream.  Sow the fine seed into pots of Yates Seed Raising Mix and barely cover. Late sowings may not reach flowering stage until next year but, once you have foxgloves established in your garden, they’ll come up again and again.     

Feed in May – May is the month to prepare soil for new plantings of deciduous trees and roses.  Choose a spot with plenty of sun and room for the plant to grow.  Dig in some old compost or manure. If soil is heavy or poorly drained, build up to raise the bed above the natural soil level and mix in some Yates Gypsum.   Add in some Dynamic Lifter pellets and leave the area to settle for the next few weeks.  It should then be in perfect condition for the new plants to go in in the middle of winter.    

Prune in May – Remove any unwanted weak growth, dead stems or past-their-best flowers. Prune hydrangeas, but remember to only cut back stems that have flowered.  There’s no rush - this can be done as late as July.

May pest watch – Rats and mice become active as the weather cools and, as well as being a nuisance in the house, they can be surprisingly damaging in the garden, eating anything – like bulbs - that’s full of starch.  Ratsak Wax Blocks are ideal for outdoor applications.  For indoor use the new Ratsak No Touch Disposable Bait Station has a see-through window that lets you monitor the bait.  Earwigs and millipedes are autumn nuisances that can be controlled using Baythroid mixed at the directed rate.

May job file - Finish planting spring bulbs.  Divide established perennials.  Rake up autumn leaves so they don’t stay on the grass and weaken the lawn.  In cold areas, build supports for frost protection around susceptible plants.   

Plant of the month – Gingko biloba  In autumn the ginkgo tree is decorated with buttery yellow, oddly shaped leaves that look like giant maidenhair, which is why it’s been christened the maidenhair tree. It’s a slow grower with an upright shape (although there are more columnar forms available).  Once established, it’s remarkably hardy. 


Week 2: Memories of Mum’s garden 

Mother’s Day in May always takes our thoughts back to childhood and the way life was: the food we ate, the holidays we enjoyed, the family outings. The garden, too, holds a special place in our childhood memories and the plants our mothers grew and loved will always stay in our minds.

Ann was brought up in Queensland so her childhood garden was full of brightly coloured flowers that do well in the subtropics.  Dahlias and zinnias were favourites.  Both can be grown from spring-sown seeds and Yates Cinderella Dahlia is a dwarf variety that smothers itself for months with bright blooms.  Cinderella dies down each winter and comes up again in spring from its underground tubers.  Once dahlias are established, they’re with you forever.  Remember, though, that in areas with very cold soil or poor winter drainage, it’s best to dig out dahlia tubers and store them in boxes of sand or peat moss before re-planting in spring.

Doug had no hesitation when asked about his mother’s favourite flower.  “She grew lavender,” he said.  “I remember the mauve and purple flowers that stood out against the grey-green frosted leaves.”  Doug added that she was also very fond of roses.  “Although Mum didn’t look after the roses – that was Dad’s job – she loved to pick them,” he said. Doug’s Dad had the important maintenance jobs of spraying the roses regularly with Rose Gun or Rose Shield, pruning them in winter and disinfecting them with Lime Sulfur after pruning.  

Alison said that her favourite plant in her mother’s garden was the passionfruit vine that always seemed to be loaded with fruit.  Passionfruit vines are short-lived so it’s likely that Alison’s mother had a succession of plants over the years while she was growing up.  It’s recommended to start a new passionfruit plant every three or four years in a different spot in the garden.  Keep the plant well watered in the hot weather and feed in spring and summer with a good fertiliser such as Dynamic Lifter PLUS Fruit Food.

Nick’s parents came from Vietnam so his mother grew lots of Asian style herbs such as (understandably) Vietnamese mint, coriander and basil.  Nick has fond memories of the collection of colourful gnomes his Mum used to decorate her garden.  “Mum’s a real green thumb,” he says, “And she always grew lots of herbs and vegetables so that we had plenty of fresh ingredients for the kitchen.”

 Marie’s mother’s favourite plant was a climbing rose that produced rich red, double, perfumed flowers from spring right through until winter.  “I always picked her a bunch of those roses for Mother’s Day,” Marie remembers.  “Even though they had short stems, they sat beautifully in her favourite crystal rose bowl.” 

Mother’s Day is a special time to think of Mum and the garden she loved and cared for when you were growing up.  Perhaps for Mother’s Day this year you can plant something that reminds you of her garden or, if you’re looking for an appropriate Mother’s Day gift, give Mum one of the plants she grew when you were a youngster.  She’ll be delighted that you have such vivid memories of the garden of your childhood.   


Week 3: The winter vegie growing challenge 

Kids all over Australia are busily growing vegies as part of the Yates Junior Landcare Winter Vegie Challenge.  Kids who registered on the Junior Landcare website before the 5th April were sent a packet of vegetable seeds suitable for growing at this time of year.  Carrots, lettuce, broccoli, radish and spinach were the five varieties on offer and kids under seventeen were encouraged to grow the plants from seed and nurture them through the cooler months.  From June 2nd onwards they can begin writing up stories of their gardening journey and uploading pictures to the Junior Landcare website.   Each month a winning story will be selected and, after the challenge ends in late September, the overall winner will be declared. So here are some tips for these busy junior gardeners, and for others growing vegies at this time of year.

Tips for growing radishes - Radishes grow really quickly from seed.  Seed germinates in a few days and the fat little roots are usually ready to harvest in a matter of weeks.  In very cold areas, it’s best to sow them into pots because they’ll be a bit warmer, especially if the pot’s placed against a warm fence or wall. Feed with a fertiliser that doesn’t have too much nitrogen or you could end up with all top and no roots.  Thrive Flower & Fruit is a good choice because of its relatively high proportion of phosphorus and potassium. And even if you don’t have a garden, radishes can be grown as microgreens on a windowsill.

Tips for growing lettuce - Lettuces are often happier growing in the cooler weather so this is a good season to give them a try. Sow lettuce seeds very close to the surface and don’t let the tiny plants dry out.  Feed every two weeks with Thrive in a liquid form: either the traditional powder that’s dissolved in water or the new liquid formulation.  Water at the base of the plant rather than over the leaves, because lettuce are prone to a number of fungal diseases.  Watch for snails and slugs, too.  Put out some Blitzem or Baysol in a pet-proof, snail-accessible container.

Tips for growing broccoli - Broccoli takes a long time to mature so it’s best to start it off as soon as possible (you can even sow before the end of summer).  Feed regularly with a good liquid like Thrive and switch to Thrive Flower & Fruit as the plants reach budding stage (yes, the broccoli we eat is a flower bud).  Like all members of the cabbage family, broccoli is prone to grub attack.  Treat with Success Ultra or Dipel.

Tips for growing carrots - Carrots can be sown most of the year, except in very cold areas.  Mix seed with some sand and sprinkle along a furrow made in some soft, preferably sandy, soil.  If soil is heavy, spread some Yates Seed Raising Mix where the seeds will be sown.  Firm the soil down on top of the furrow and keep moist.  Thin out the young carrots so that those left behind have room to grow.

Tips for growing spinach - Spinach just loves winter so is happy at this time of year.  Leaves can be picked at a very early stage as baby spinach, or left to mature.  Enrich the soil with Dynamic Lifter before planting and feed with a Thrive liquid.   


Week 4: Vertical gardens are in vogue 

The most fashionable trend in the gardening world at the moment just has to be vertical gardens.  Also called living walls or green walls, vertical gardens are used to save space but mostly to create dramatic effect. 

Australia, with our hot, dry summers, is a particularly challenging place to grow plants in such exposed positions and there are a number of factors to consider.  Check to see how much sun the wall or fence receives throughout the various seasons.  In some cases, walls will bake in the summer sun and then be in total shade through winter. There are very few plants that can cope with such extremes.  A surface that is in full sun all year will get very hot and will require constant maintenance.  Gentle, filtered shade or morning sun/ afternoon shade are probably the best aspects to choose to enable the widest plant choice.

The easiest way to create your green wall is to buy one of the numerous kits that have been expressly produced for this purpose but you can also set up your own system.  The choice of containers is endless – only limited by your imagination. Anything that will hold mix for the plant to grow in can be used. 

The growing medium is important, especially if you want your display to last for a long time.  It must be capable of holding nutrients and moisture, but must not be too heavy.   Don’t use garden soil as it will set like cement between waterings.  Good quality potting mix can be mixed 50:50 with lightweight perlite, vermiculite or small styrofoam balls.  

Success depends on effective irrigation. Most pre-formed vertical systems have some arrangement for watering but, if you’re setting up your own system, give some thought to watering and drainage.  Hand watering will be satisfactory for a small wall but be sure to check the plants and pots regularly to ensure they don’t dry out.  Those at the top of the wall or in the more open positions will need more watering than sheltered plants.

Plant choice is critical to success with vertical gardens.  To start with, don’t attempt to grow anything too large.  Small succulents make good choices for sunnier spots.  Bromeliads do well in semi-shade and, because so many of them are epiphytes (plants that naturally grow in trees) they don’t need much root room.  Their roots can be bedded into something like sphagnum moss, which is much lighter than potting mix.  Strappy leafed plants with a slightly drooping habit will perform well.  Examples are small dianellas, mondo grass, Lomandra ‘Little Con’, liriope and, possibly best of all, walking iris (Neomarica sp). The latter has glossy green leaves, pretty spring flowers and small, easily detached plantlets that form at the end of long shoots.  Seasonal herbs and flowering annuals can be mixed in to add short term interest or colour.

During the warmer months it’s helpful to add some liquid fertiliser when watering the plants.  Yates new range of Thrive liquid plant foods are ideal for this purpose.   


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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