March marks the tide of change in the garden, with promises of stunning autumnal colour, crunchy falling leaves adorning the ground, a changing landscape with skeletal trees revealing their form - and a time to look forward to roasting scrumptious chestnuts in an open fire. Can’t be bad!
FERTILSER: It’s time to get the fertilizer out and give the plants a burst before winter sets in. Be generous and use a good organic fertilizer. Pay particular attention to camellias as they are starting to form their buds for their winter and spring displays – our soils are generally pretty poor on this continent. Feed all the way out to the leaf line on trees and scrubs and water in well. Plants like citrus, gardenias and even some natives such as banksias are often deficient in iron (the leaves lack that deep green and look yellow in extreme cases). Use Yates Chelated Iron but do not overdo it, follow the instructions on the packet closely as too much can damage the plants.
ANNUALS: Petunias are probably becoming a bit straggly now. If you live in a frost-free area, try cutting them back (leaving about 50 to 75mm of the stem). Give them a good feed with a liquid fertiliser and they’ll most likely give you another great display. It’s also time to plant annuals like poppies, pansies, sweet peas and cinerarias – just to name a few.
BULBS: Spring flowering bulbs can be used in a number of ways, depending on the effect you want to create. Bold coloured flowers such as tulips and daffodils make a dramatic statement when mass planted. Daffodils, jonquils, freesias and snow drops can be used to create an ‘English Garden’ look along driveways or around trees when the clumps are left to naturalise amongst the grass. Ranunculus and anemones are suitable for bedding displays, while smaller flowers such as grape hyacinths make dainty borders for garden beds. Fragrant flowers such as freesias and hyacinths can be used near paths and doorways as natural air fresheners, and tulips, hyacinths and daffodils planted in pots can be used to brighten up patios or windowsills. When it comes to using bulbs in the garden, the possibilities are endless!
LAWNS: Give the lawn a feed to help it stay healthy through winter. Keep your eye out for black beetle in your lawn – if you see a few there could be many more unseen. They can do a lot of damage quickly, not the beetle so much but the white curl grub they develop from. Use a product containing synthetic pyrethroid. It’s not organic but is low in toxicity, effective in small quantities and will do the job. Yates Baythroid is one such product. It’s an ideal general contact insecticide and controls a wide range of insects. It is highly effective against two major lawn pests – the adult African black beetle and grass-eating lawn grubs.
TREES AND SHRUBS: This is the time to prune shrubs after they finish flowering. Plants which flower on ‘new wood’ like some Grevilleas and Crape Myrtle fall into this category.
CITRUS: It’s time to give the citrus a good feed, ready for the ripening fruit. Dynamic Lifter is good – it will add a bit of organic matter to the soil. Keep your eye out for Leaf miner larvae. It lives in the leaf tissue and deforms new growth. You will need to use a systemic insecticide to get it under control.
IN THE VEGETABLE PATCH: It’s time to plant Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Beans, Peas, Cauliflower, and Cabbage. Don’t forget those Chinese leafy vegetables – they do well in the cooler months.
IN THE HERB GARDEN: Trim woody and sprawling herbs such as Sage, Rosemary, Oregano and Thyme. Just pull them back into shape – not too much as winter is coming – just shape them up a little.
ORGANIC TIP: You can make your own pest oil using a vegetable oil – sunflower oil is good.
½ cup of detergent (biodegradable)
3 cups of oil
Use 20 millilitres per 1 litre of water. Spray the oil ensuring it comes into contact with the insect and use regularly every two to three weeks.