Mid-spring is a busy and rewarding time in the garden!

As spring progresses, gardens seem to expand with new growth, flowers and produce. All that new and developing growth means it’s time to pay attention to regular watering, fertilising and maintenance to keep the garden flourishing. It’s also time to plant ahead for a bountiful supply of fresh vegetables for summer and gifts from the garden.

Planting tomatoes

While all fruit and vegetables taste better picked fresh from your own garden, tomatoes are in a league of their own. To have that bounty of tasty tomatoes, mid spring is the time to get planting. Tomato seedlings are widely available now at garden centres and in the garden section of your local hardware store. There are many different varieties including those with large fruit, small fruit and tomatoes that are different colours and shapes – so choose several to enliven mealtimes.

Tomatoes need a warm, sunny spot to grow and most need some sort of support such as a stake which should be placed next to the seedlings at planting. Even tomatoes that have small fruit such as cocktail and cherry tomatoes need support as they form large plants.

Space individual plants well apart to allow plenty of room for them to grow allowing at least 1m between plants. Plant seedlings deeply to encourage strong roots and firm the soil well. To reduce transplant shock at planting, water with Seasol (use 30mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water). Apply every seven to 10 days.

For more information on growing tomatoes for a bumper, tasty crop, check out our seven easy steps to growing tomatoes.

Top tips for tasty tomatoes

Feeding for a lush lawn

With warm conditions, regular rainfall and longer daylength, lawns are taking off. Mid spring is an ideal time to feed the lawn to establish strong root growth as well as lots of lush green leaves. Use a complete lawn food such as PowerFeed LawnFeed (or PowerFeed Buffalo LawnFeed for Buffalo varieties) for best results.

Before apply a granular fertiliser, it’s a good time to check that the lawn is taking in water. If you find that the water is pooling onto or running off it, then it could be hydrophobic (repelling water). Apply a soil wetter such as Seasol Super Soil Wetter & Conditioner hose-on will help to overcome this. It also contains active liquid compost to help improve the lawn’s soil health.

For even distribution of fertiliser, walk across the lawn in one direction then criss cross in a diagonal direction broadcasting the lawn food by hand. For a large lawn area, hire or buy a fertiliser spreader. Read the directions on the container to calculate the amount of fertiliser needed to feed the area of lawn you have. Water after applying fertiliser or apply just before a heavy fall of rain.

For more information on feeding and irrigating lawns check out our LAWN CARE.

Top up mulches

Weeds grow quickly in spring. After hand weeding, always spread mulch to deter regrowth. There are many different choices of mulch for your garden including sugar cane mulch, Lucerne, barks, wood chips, and Eucy mulch. Being natural, they decompose over time to add nutrients to the soil. Before applying mulch to the soil, mix in Seasol Plant + Soil Booster to improve soil health and to help prevent nitrogen drawback. Aim at keeping mulch depth at around 5-7cm deep and don’t pile up mulch around trunks, stems or over rhizomes.

In very weedy areas it may be necessary to lay down a barrier such as layers of newspaper or cardboard to prevent regrowth. Cover the barrier with mulch. To plant into the area, make a slit in the barrier material and plant into the soil.

Makes sure the new planting is watered regularly with Seasol as the barrier under the mulch may stop natural rainfall reaching the soil. As well as mulching bare soil, also top up organic mulches around the garden that have broken down.

Aphid alert

Keep an eye out for clusters of aphids on new growth particularly on roses and citrus. These small insects suck sap from plants and find new growth very tasty. They can damage plants and spread virus disease as they feed. To control aphids squash or wash them off with a jet of water from the hose.

Aphids can also be sprayed with a pesticide such as EarthCare White Oil insect spray or EarthCare Enviro Pest Oil insect spray. Both products naturally control aphids and a wide range of pests. Check the back of the label for more information. Remember to spray both sides of the foliage and repeat 14 days later if needed.

Before controlling however, have a careful look at the pests. They are controlled naturally by ladybirds and their larvae along with some other insects. If ladybirds are present, consider leaving them to eat the aphids and provide a natural pest control. Some small birds also feed on aphids.

Attracting pollinators

Gardeners are keen to attract lots of beneficial insects to their gardens to improve pollination. Pollinators include honeybees, native bees, wasps and other insects. Pollinators check out most flowers but are attracted particularly to flowers that offer lots of nectar. These plants include the herb borage (Borago officinalis) that has sugar-rich nectar.

Borage  is a blue-flowered herb with stout slightly hair stems and large leaves. Once planted, borage self seeds, spreading through the garden. As well as attracting pollinators, its blue flowers can also be used as a garnish. Other flowers that bees and other pollinators love include flowering herbs such as rosemary and lavender, dandelion, calendula and daisies.

Gifts from the garden

The garden is a great source of material for home-grown gift giving but they do need a bit of lead time to be ready to give. October is a great time to start growing potted plants for Christmas gifts. Easy to grow plants for gifts include succulents, herbs and small pots of flowering annuals. Consider herbs such as rosemary, basil, parsley or oregano or flowers such as pansies, violas, snapdragons, impatiens or a combination.

To ensure success, use good quality potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix, and plant up some extra plants to use as fillers. When planting remember to water them in with Seasol to aid plant establishment and healthy grow. As plants take off liquid feed with PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Roses & Flowers regularly every 2 weeks.

Other garden gifts include fresh garden produce and dried herbs. Dried herbs can also be made into herbal teabags. Chamomile flowers, mint, lemon verbena leaves, lemon balm and lemongrass can all be grown to use for herbal teas. Package the dried flowers or leaves in a teabag-size piece of muslin, tie and add a label.

Top 5 easy to grow spring bulbs

Caring for bulbs after flowering

As spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, narcissus, Dutch iris and hyacinths begin to finish flowering, they need some TLC to ensure good flowering next year. Bulbs store starch in their bulbs for next year’s growth.

Feeding bulbs while they are actively growing in spring and then allowing them to die back naturally in late spring makes sure that bulbs are plump and prepared for next year’s show. For massed bulbs, scatter a pelletised fertiliser such as PowerFeed with Troforte Flowers, Fruit & Citrus.

For smaller plantings or containers, use either a pelletised fertiliser such as PowerFeed Controlled Release for Flowers, Fruit & Citrus or liquid feed with PowerFeed.All Purpose including Natives.