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This Month in Your Garden
FEBRUARY 2017    


By Sue McDougall, Horticulturalist and Gardening Personality

The garden is looking forward to cooler times and we can all smile as it’s not long until the official start of autumn. This month plants are at their most stressed, hot days are taking their toll on species. Keep the mulch topped up around their root system and ensure the water is soaking in and not running off the soil surface. An application of Seasol Super Soil Wetter and Conditioner is more important at this time of the year than any other. 

Juicy Figs

The summer crop on the fig tree is so close to picking and at the moment is susceptible to fruit fly damage for those of us unlucky enough to live in a fruit fly area. Spraying isn’t the preferred option for control, but sometimes you have no choice if you live in a fruit fly infested area. Continual baiting is also an effective method and works to reduce the population. There are many homemade fruit fly recipes available and some are more trouble than they are worth. 

The vegemite and cloudy ammonia recipe is effective;

Mix together,

600ml warm water

2 tablespoons Cloudy ammonia

2 tablespoons sugar

1 dessertspoon vegemite

Pour 1-2cm in 500ml clear plastic drink bottles.

Make lots of holes at the top big enough to for a fly to fit in. Hang 6-8 in each tree and replace every 2 weeks.

Favourite summer herbs

In the bare spots in the vegie garden fill them in with a few extra plants of Basil. Basil thrives in the hot weather and will be ready to harvest in a few short weeks. 

Top tips for the best flavoured basil;

  • Basil needs to be grown fast – plant in well prepared and heavily mulched soil.
  • If planting in a pot, mix equal parts of premium potting mix with coco peat. This will hold extra available water  without waterlogging roots.
  • Harvest regularly and liquid fertilise fortnightly

When making pesto remember to harvest young flower stalks and add them to the mixture as they have the most flavour compared to the leaves. Fresh pesto freezes very well so an abundance of produce in the summer will be welcomed in winter when a quick meal is needed.

Rose Colour

There is no doubt roses are one of the most popular ornamental plants in the world. Many plants across the country have a few sunburnt leaves and are looking a little tired this month. Give them a new lease of life by feeding and mulching. They are developing their buds for their autumn flowers and will benefit from a top dressing with a complete fertiliser. Water it in well and be sure the mulch is shading the soil from that searing sun.

If you only have 10 minutes

Gardening in 10 minute blocks is advisable at this time of the year because the priority is to keep cool and avoid sunstroke. There are many tasks that can be completed in a short time;

  • Grapes may need to be treated for mildew as it tends to re occur at this time of the year. This fungus appears on the fruit in humid weather. To reduce the chance of getting mildew prune some of the foliage around the vine to increase the air movement. Don’t forget to spread bird netting over the plant while they are in full fruit production. There is nothing more frustrating than sharing your crop with the birds, because guaranteed they won’t leave you much.
  • Seems crazy, but in the hottest months it is time to plant winter vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprouts. They can be planted as seeds or seedlings now as they require the long growing season of autumn to develop size before maturing.
  • Red spider mite or two spotted mite as it is sometimes referred to, is harbouring in the vegetable garden at the moment. These minute insects are very hard to see with the naked eye (unless you have great eyesight) and love dry conditions, hiding under foliage, causing yellowing of leaves, leaf drop and very fine webbing. Tomatoes, capsicum and eggplant are very prone to attack. Treat with dusting sulphur.
  • Even in the hottest month of the year the flower garden can be very colourful with many trees and shrubs saving late summer to look their best. Many of our gardens tend to look brilliant in spring and summer misses out. Take a drive to your local garden centre now and check out what is in flower, you may be surprised.
  • Gardenias have finished their main flowering and are now displaying bright yellow leaves. They stand out so badly because they look so bright next to the dark green foliage. Don’t be alarmed. You can be guaranteed nearly every other gardenia around is doing the same thing. It’s caused by a magnesium deficiency and can be easily fixed with a treatment of Epsom Salts (magnesium sulphate). Dissolve a dessertspoon full in a watering can and apply the solution around the root system. The application of Powerfeed fortnightly over the foliage is also beneficial at this time of the year.




 

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