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This Spring think of your garden as more than just plants!

As the weather warms up around the country it’s a timely reminder of the importance of our garden space (whether it’s courtyard size or a suburban block) can assist in supporting the local environment. A few strategically placed water bowls at different heights will sustain a few families of birds throughout the warmer months and bowls of water at ground level will help bees, lizards and geckos. Increasing biodiversity in garden areas is the first step in balancing the local flora and fauna in the suburban areas. The more we can think of our garden areas as mini biodiversity shelters for fauna and flora, the healthier our local environment and the garden will be. In addition the more we can recycle to our backyard the healthier our soil will be.

Garden Biodiversity

Gardening starts with the soil, it doesn’t matter if we are talking pots or garden areas. The healthier the soil the better plants will grow. Did you know that households have to potential to save up to 350kg of green waste each going directly to landfill and divert it to improving the soil in the garden?

If you haven’t recycled kitchen scraps before set this October as the start date. Lettuce leaves, carrot peelings and fruit and vegetable waste will break down. Improving our soils should be the number one priority to having a great garden. Best of all the kitchen scraps, lawn clippings and everything else you can scrounge up is free, which can be quickly converted into nutrient-rich compost for the garden.

 

Simple recycling tips –

  • Wrap kitchen scraps in a piece of paper and bury in the garden. If you don’t have time to bury every day, just pop in the freezer and get to it when you can. Frozen scraps will break down into garden compost very quickly as freezing speeds up the composting process.
  • Weeds and lawn clippings will break down quickly if a little blood and bone is added to the compost pile.
  • A simple worm farm made from a foam box, will be perfect for the single person household. Composting worms do all the hard work for you. The foam box will keep the worms cool in the summer months.

Revamping potted plants

Most plants available to buy can be kept in pots indefinitely, it just takes a little long term care to keep them looking gorgeous. Regular applications of liquid fertiliser and replacement of potting mix will ensure they look brilliant for years. There examples of citrus trees in France, which have been in the same container for over 160 years.

Potted plants that have been in the same container for many years and are too heavy or large to completely repot will benefit from the addition of fresh potting mix as they are actively growing. Remove plugs of soil with a trowel or bulb planter, about 1 litre volume is ideal and replace with premium potting mix. Large pots will benefit from about 4 litres of soil removed and replaced, then repeat the process in a few months.

If it’s difficult to replace your potting mix, try Seasol Potting Mix Booster. It brings life back into your potting mix with the addition of beneficial soil microbes. Simply mix into the top 2cm of the potting mix and water in thoroughly. It will help to restore, revitalise and extend the life of existing potting mix, improving aeration and moisture retention.

 

Citrus

Citrus trees are one of the most versatile groups of fruiting plants to grow in most areas of Australia. The humble lemon tree is synonymous with the Australian suburban garden and a sentimental favourite. It is the subject of many garden questions and you’d be forgiven if you thought they were hard to grow judging by the number of questions that are asked. In fact, lemons are one of the easiest of all citrus trees to grow. Feed it, water it and trim it a little and you will be rewarded with months of juicy fruit. With the correct variety selection, there is potential to have fresh fruit from May to November, not taking into account the humble lemon. The perfume of the blossom is an added benefit on a balmy October evening.

At this time of the year:

Fertilise citrus to encourage growth when the soil is still cool. Apply a liquid fertiliser over the foliage such as PowerFeed PRO Series Flowers, Fruit & CItrus as it’s absorbed very quickly. When citrus are flowering their nutrients needs are extremely high. Using a controlled release fertiliser such as PowerFeed Controlled Release for Flowers, Fruit & Citrus in conjunction with a soluble liquid fertiliser is a safe way of delivering nutrients quickly to the plants. There’s less chance of overdoing the fertiliser and causing leaf burn and flower drop.

Creating a Topical Paradise

October is the ideal time to split up Elkhorn ferns. These ferns grow naturally high up in the rainforest canopy and yet are incredibly tolerant of many garden conditions. The Elkhorn fern lives for many years and produces separate shields that can be removed and mounted onto boards. Marine ply is ideal to use as it is waterproof and will not break down easily. Remove separate shields and trim the extra root mass from the back of the shield. Pack the back with damp sphagnum moss and secure with a nylon stocking or a strip of stretch material. Place in a light, humid position. New shields will cover over the nylon stocking and new roots will adhere themselves to the board.

Alternatively, a hanging basket is perfect for growing a specimen Elkhorn fern. As they grow they form a circle around the whole basket and create a living sculptural ball shape over a period of years. Be sure to select a quality galvanised hanging basket with sturdy chains to reduce the risk of the chain rusting out.