Welcome to Autumn – A Time for Revitalising the Garden!
A garden is an exercise of resilience. The extreme weather conditions across Australia have been challenging for gardens as well as their creators. At this time of the year, I always marvel at what has thrived and survived another incredible summer and it’s these plants we need to take a note of and plant more. One plant is the Hibiscus, which survives most areas of Australia and while the thought of as a summer flowering plant, it flowers it’s best over the next couple of months. We tend to group all hibiscus together, but growth habits vary as greatly as the flower colours and there is a variety suited to almost any condition.
Must known tips when growing Hibiscus;
- One, two- and three-day varieties are available to plant. This means the length of time the flower lasts. Depending on the look you are wanting to choose the variety that suits. One day flowering varieties, have short-lived flowers, but the plants are covered. Three-day flowering varieties tend to have fewer flowers, which last longer.
- Feed regularly throughout the growing season, if there are limited nutrients available to the plant at flowering time, the older leaves will tend to yellow quickly. Try PowerFeed PRO SERIES Plant Food for Roses & Flowers, its dynamic nutrient blend promotes healthy growth without excessive foliage and stimulates flowering for bigger, brighter more colourful blooms. Mix 50mL of the concentrate per 9 litres of water (standard watering can) and apply every 2 to 4 weeks.
Must known tips when growing Hibiscus cont:
- Hibiscus plants sulk, with extremes of temperature. An unexpected extremely hot day will bring on yellow leaves almost overnight. As will an unusual cool change.
- Flower drop is caused by several things aside from natural flowering length. Look for thrips and beetle in the flowers.
- Nip growth tips out regularly to encourage busy growth.
Hibiscus can be grown successfully in highly manicured gardens or for ‘set and forget’ areas.
Citrus are another group of plants that are extremely versatile and are as varied in their growth habit as the flavour of the fruit. With clever variety selection, it’s possible to have homegrown fresh citrus to harvest for at least 6 months of the year. Throughout this month citrus are developing size and flavour, with the early Mandarins becoming ripe in mid-late autumn.
Citrus Care for March;
- If there is an extremely heavy crop set, thin fruit out by removing at least ½. This will ensure the plant has enough in reserve to develop the fruit to a decent size. Small fruit is often a result of too many on the tree at once. Thinning fruit out also ensures the plant has enough energy in reserve for developing next year’s crop.
- Trees tend to show nutrients deficiencies in their leaves this month. Pick a leaf off the plant and hold up to the sun. If there are green veins or yellow blotching, it’s a symptom of a typical trace element deficiency. Applications of Seasol and PowerFeed PRO SERIES Plant Food, Flowers, Fruit & Citrus fortnightly will be absorbed by the plant quickly and result in healthy green leaves and tasty fruit.
Citrus – Citrus Care for March cont:
- Split fruit at this time of the year is usually a result of summer rains. The plant absorbs moisture quickly and directs it to the fruit. The skin of the developing citrus can’t divide quickly enough for the amount of moisture absorbed and usually splits. Navel oranges are very susceptible to split fruit and doesn’t usually affect every piece of fruit on the tree. It usually balances itself out when the season settles into a normal cool autumn pattern.
- Calcium deficiency can cause tough hard skin that splits easily. The addition of a fertiliser with added calcium will benefit plants at this time of the year.
- Cool weather experienced in March will trigger the skin colour change. Don’t be tempted to harvest fruit too early as it will be at least 6-8 weeks before the flavour is at its best.
Flavour at its best
Not a March can go by without revitalising, replanting and re-mulching the vegie garden. March is the peak month to be getting stuck into the edible garden. All winter producing plants can be replanted after the soil has been replenished. Early crops of broccoli and broccolini tend to be left alone by the Cabbage White Butterfly. Once the first florets early florets have been harvested, leave the plants in the ground and the side shoots even more abundant than the main crop.
It’s time to plant a legume crop, not only do you get a tasty crop of peas, snow peas or broad beans these clever plants increase the fertility of the soil by taking nitrogen from the atmosphere and fixing it in the soil for the next crop. Planting a crop rotation of legumes to benefit soil health is a strategy used in mainstream broad acre agriculture and even more crucial for the backyard vegie gardens where continual production of food is expected all year round.
Another way of improving the soil is by planting a green manure crop. Green manure crops are thickly sown crops of peas, oats or a specific green manure mix and dug back into the ground before they flower. The extra organic matter has a high in moisture content and will compost in the ground quickly resulting in a fertile soil suitable for planting a productive crop almost immediately.
For tasty garlic, its best planted before the end of this month. Improve the soil with sheep manure, compost or try Seasol Liquid Compost, the no-dig option and plant individual cloves about 2 cm under the surface at 10-15cm spacings. If space is limited garlic grows brilliantly in a large pot in the full sun.