Welcome to the start of spring and a flurry of activity in the garden!
Whether you believe the official start to spring is the 1st of September or the 21st, the seasons are definitely changing. There has been a flurry of activity from the birds in the garden and the few sunny warm days have resulted in more water being splashed out of the bird bath than left in. It’s a timely reminder to ensure the birdbaths and containers are topped up. A regular water source is the easiest way to ensure birds keep coming back to your garden and attracting insect eating species is even better. Aphids, mealy bug and spiders are a favourite snack for many honeyeater species in fact some species eat more insects than nectar. These birds will soon come to rely on this nutritious food source and will return, with their new family year after year.
September is when we unfurl (to use a gardening term) from the winter hibernation and are inspired to garden and enjoy outdoors, whether you have a small balcony, courtyard or a sprawling oasis, it hits us at the same time. Glorious sunny weather after months of cold and gardeners can’t help themselves. There is so much happening at this time of the year that it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed with not enough time to do all the things you want to. There are a few jobs that will give you the best ‘bang for your buck’.
- Instant colour – find any empty large pot and fill it to overflowing with instant colour. Chose varieties that are suited to the location they will be placed in. Full sun plants such as petunias and salvias require at least 6 hours of sun per day. For shady situations select a mixture of bright foliage and flowers, hypoestes and begonias look brilliant together. To keep them looking good, apply PowerFeed liquid plant food, 50mL of PowerFeed per 9 litres of water every 2 to 4 weeks from spring to autumn.
- Cover garden beds with at least 75mm layer of mulch. These not only looks great, it will conserve soil moisture and keep plant’s roots cool.
- Invest in a few lush indoor plants to bring the outdoors in. Hardy varieties include the Peace Lilly, Devils Ivy or ZZ Plant. They’re almost indestructible, will brighten up any kitchen or living room and are considered the best ‘clean air’ plants available. To keep them looking good, apply Seasol Folair Spray every two to four weeks from spring to autumn.
Growing your own microgreens is a brilliant starter project for new gardeners or for those with limited space to grow plants. Microgreens are not a special type of plant, they are repeat harvest varieties plucked when they are a few cm’s tall. All that’s needed is a seed raising tray or shallow pot and soil mix. Seed raising mix is ideal as it has no large chunks and holds just enough water around plants roots for germination. Repeat the process in a new tray or pot every 3 weeks. This way you won’t be without salad greens all spring and summer.
By following these simple steps you will have tasty microgreens for salads and tarts in just a few weeks:
- Fill a seed raising tray or shallow pot with seed raising mix
- Sprinkle a mixture of salad greens, broccoli, beetroot and chard seeds over the surface
- Sprinkle a fine layer of potting mix over seeds
- Water in well
- Place in a well-lit position and water regularly to ensure soil surface doesn’t dry out
- Harvest leaves as needed anytime when leaves grow to 5cm long
- Apply PowerFeed liquid plant food weekly at a rate of 2mL of PowerFeed per litre of water.
Mushrooms in a box
Mushroom kits have been around for many years. There is a kind of magic that happens when, from white mycelium appears perfectly formed mushrooms. Fast forward to 2017 and kits are available for many different exotic mushrooms including oyster, king oyster and shiitake. Different varieties require different growing temperatures. This is ideal as it allows you to enjoy your own home grown mushrooms nearly all year round. Kits come conveniently packaged in a box and will not take up very much space at all. Transferring the kit to a clear plastic storage tub ensures you can control the humidity readily by opening the lid a little or a lot. Mushrooms require regular misting with rain or filtered water and a well-lit position. Avoid bright sunlight or a dark position. One mushroom kit should yield (depending upon the variety) at least one kilogram of mushrooms.