May – the month that is embraced by gardeners!
Soaking rains should be falling and I rejoice in the opportunity to spread organic fertiliser around the garden when it’s raining. I really feel like I have achieved something, my plants benefit and I’ve taken advantage of the free water to wash the fertiliser into the soil. It also works to my advantage when I have the dog following behind, trying in vain to lick up the excess as I go. Most organic based fertilisers will not harm animals, but have the potential to cause stomach upsets if consumed in large quantities. Another reason why spreading fertiliser in the rain is a good thing, it will be washed in before the dog gets out the door!
Avoiding Winter Weeds
Cool season weed seeds are germinating in their thousands (or should that be millions) and one of the easiest times to get rid of them is at cotyledon or two leaf stage. This is the stage when they first burst through the soil and develop their first set of true leaves and are most vulnerable to control. The safest and easiest control is smothering seedlings with composting or chunky mulch before they establish themselves. A layer of mulch will block out much needed light to the seedling and it will wither very quickly. Spreading mulch early saves hours of back breaking work later on in the season.
Friends or Foe
We all love the thought of butterflies in the garden, but are not prepared to live with chewed leaves. Behind most chewed leaves is a beautiful butterfly. Caterpillars will require a food source to develop.
Common annual weeds are a valuable nectar source for foraging adults and hungry caterpillars. It’s the best excuse in the world to use to avoid the worst task in the garden – weeding. It’s important to set aside an area to allow thistles, plantain, cape weed and clover to flower. In addition to weeds there are many plants that are suitable food sources for caterpillars.
Find a spot to plant one or two of the following and if space is limited they will all perform brilliantly in a large pot in a sunny position:
- Kangaroo Paws
As the rain starts to fall it’s easy to forget to water the garden beds under the eaves. Often these areas are hooked to the automatic reticulation system that is turned off when it starts to rain. Areas under the eaves will require hand watering at least once per week. If the soil has been allowed to dry out, add a wetting agent such as Seasol Super Soil Wetter and Conditioner and water in thoroughly.
Moss will start to thrive in lawn areas where the soil is compacted and there is a lack of drainage. It can be easily controlled by aerating and cultivating the soil. If lawn isn’t growing because it’s too shady, try removing the lawn and planting shade loving ground covers.
Fertilise spring flowering bulbs as they are pushing up through the soil. PowerFeed Controlled Release Plant Food Flowers, Fruit & Citrus will deliver all the nutrients a young bulb needs for flowering. Bulbs are fantastic waterwise plants and look stunning mass planted in pots or in a sunny position in the smallest of spaces. Also to keep them healthy and strong apply Seasol every 2 to 4 weeks.
If reverse cycle heating is the only form of heating in your house, place a saucer or container of water close to indoor plants. This form of heating tends to remove moisture from the air and indoor plants can suffer in winter. Move plants away from the direct air flow.
How could we go through the month of May without mentioning our Mums? We celebrate and shower our Mum with love on the second Sunday in May (just in case you need a reminder) and while most Mums will say I don’t need anything for Mothers Day, there are a few plants that say ‘Mum I love you’, like no other:
Chrysanthemums– will flower for months and can stay in a pot indefinitely. Choose a sunny position and fertilise regularly. Some varieties grow tall, others are short and bushy.
Geraniums– are the flowering gift for the Mum who is a self-confessed ‘Black Thumb Gardener’. The perfect set and forget plant they will reward Mum with flowers almost all year round with minimal care.
Roses– are ideal gifts, especially those that are aptly named. Search for Mothers Love as it will be guaranteed to melt a heart.
Anthuriums– are the perfect slow growing, hardy indoor plant that will stay in the pot they are grown in for months, even years. Given a well-lit position inside or on a verandah they will flower continually.