Spring is here, get out and have some fun in the garden!

Early spring can seem like one step forward and two steps back as the weather swings between warm and sunny and back to the cold and windy conditions of late winter. However, as September unfolds, we will enjoy some of the most exciting and dynamic seasons in the garden.

There are many signs to show you spring has arrived in your neighbourhood. Look out for beautiful spring flowering bulbs, blossom in bloom and the stunning display of the golden acacia.

Blossom and fruit trees in the garden

Ornamental blossom trees are a highlight of early spring when they are decked in beautiful white or pink flowers. In September enjoy the blossoms on flowering peaches, pears, cherry blossoms and crabapples.

Most blossom trees are small to medium in size and fit well into any garden as a feature or shade tree. After flowering finishes, some ornamental fruit trees – especially flowering peaches – may form small fruit. These fruits never develop into an edible size and should be pruned off as flowering comes to an end.

If you have an orchard, apples, pears, plums and cherries may be in bloom and buzzing with bees. Provided there’s plenty of bee activity and cold, wet and frosty weather stays away, these flowers start to form small fruits as spring progresses. These trees can be left unpruned until after the crop is harvested.

To ensure your trees perform to their best liquid feed them regularly every two to four weeks with PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Fruit & Citrus.

How to achieve brilliant cherry bloom

Caring for proteas

Most people think proteas are native plants – much like the closely related waratah, banksia and grevillea. But proteas such as the popular cut flower ‘Pink Ice’ along with colourful leucadendrons and leucospermums – are native to South Africa. Proteas are related though, along with hundreds of other Australian native plants classified in the same large plant family Proteaceae.

The plants from both countries share common ancestors and date back to a time when Africa and Australia were part of an ancient landmass called Gondwana, which also included Antarctica, India and South America. As they are so closely related, all members of the protea family like similar growing conditions and grow well together.

For long flowering and healthy plants, grow proteas, leucadendrons, leucospermums as well waratahs, grevilleas and banksias in well-drained soil. Feed in spring with a native plant fertiliser such as PowerFeed with Troforte All Purpose including Natives and keep these plants regularly watered. Picking the flowers helps keep them pruned otherwise prune after flowering to encourage a compact shrub with lots of new growth.

Looking after citrus

Fruit is also forming on citrus including lemons and oranges. Spring is a critical time to care for citrus. Remove any weeds from around the base of the tree and top up organic mulches to deter more weed growth. Feed the trees with a complete citrus food such as Seasol plus Nutrients Fruit & Citrus. Keep trees well-watered throughout spring and as fruit matures in summer. Erratic watering or allowing trees to dry out can lead to fruit drop.

Some fruit drop when the fruit is still tiny this is normal if crops are heavy but citrus trees that are exposed to cold spring winds may drop a lot of immature fruit. Shelter trees from cold winds to improve fruit set and tree health.

Watch for citrus leaf miner on new shoots. Affected leaves will have tell-tale wriggly lines caused by the feeding of small insects in the leaves. Prevent damage by spraying new growth with EarthCare Enviro Pest Oil insect spray (following instructions on the container). Badly damaged growth can be trimmed off, bagged and binned. Spray new shoots as they appear.

How to grow tasty, vegies with Seasol

Planting vegetables in spring

As the soil warms and days get longer, we are all gripped with the urge to grow vegies. Given the high costs of living, planting your own vegetables makes good sense as it will help stretch the household budget and provide nutritious food with a very low carbon footprint.

There are many vegetables to be planted now including tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, potatoes, sweetcorn, pumpkin, zucchini, lettuce, silverbeet and herbs. Check out our vegie guide for more information on specific plants.

If your area is warm and frost free, plant seeds or seedlings straight into prepared garden beds or containers and water in with Seasol to aid germination, and plant establishment.

If the area is still cold, or late frosts are still likely, start seeds of frost tender plants in containers in a warm sheltered location (such as a greenhouse) and transfer seedlings into individual pots r delay planting until next month. In all areas, be prepared to protect frost-sensitive vegetable in garden beds if cold conditions return.

Five important jobs for early spring

  1. Walk around the garden and make a list of jobs that need doing after the stresses of winter.
  2. Increase watering as temperatures increase and new growth appears demanding more moisture out of the soil. If the soil is repelling water (pooling on top or running off) apply a soil wetter such as Seasol Super Soil Wetter & Conditioner.
  3. Check out the lawn and remove any weeds while they are young. Now is also a great time to maintain the lawn mower
  4. Regularly apply Seasol to new plantings including seedlings to reduce transplant shock.
  5. Start using compost to enrich vegie beds before planting or as mulch under established shrubs.

Indoor Smiles

Forty-five seconds is all it takes to feel better after connecting with nature. This includes gazing at one small plant. Little wonder the demand for indoor plants has gone through the roof over the last couple of  years.

There are some incredibly hardy varieties available to grow now and even the most beginner gardener can have success growing some green inside.

The five most common mistakes when growing indoor plants are:

  1. Choosing the wrong plants for the location. Those considered good for indoors are the varieties that don’t grow out of control, tolerate low light, and low humidity.
  2. Loving plants to death, water requirements are low inside. If the soil is damp, they don’t require watering.
  3. Treating indoor plants like outdoor plants. They will need a little more care.
  4. Neglecting to wash the dust off the leaves with a soft cloth or tissue. This helps the plant to photosynthesis.
  5. Feeding plants. Like us, they need a balanced diet to grow healthy and lush. Apply a liquid fertiliser such as PowerFeed Indoor & Potted Plants regularly every 2 to 4 weeks to the soil.

Friendly pest control

Biological controls are a super friendly form of pest control. These are natural predators that hunt down and kill pests. Many are already at work in the garden from ladybirds and their young munching on aphids to predatory wasps hunting for caterpillars.

Down in the soil are unseen predators in the form of beneficial nematodes that target hard-to-control soil-borne pests such as cutworms and the larvae of cockchafers and beetles (often called curl grubs). Cutworms are drab caterpillars that live in soils where they damage seedlings cutting them off at the base of the stem.

They are often prevalent in vegie beds and are generally active at night. They can decimate newly planted seedlings. Cockchafer larva and curl grubs are also commonly encountered pests that live in the soil. When these grubs are present, patches of the lawn die back leaving bare spots that are easily colonised by weeds. Plants in containers or garden beds may wilt or die as their root systems are attacked by the pest. Birds and bandicoots are natural predators as are many soil-borne organisms. Where the soil pests are winning, try dowsing the area with soapy water.