We are heading into summer although we haven’t seen much of the warmer weather yet with all the rain on the East Coast and further West. Rain is of course good for our gardens but it can bring problems. Excessive rain can leach out fertiliser particularly from sandy soils and it is at this time of the growing cycle that plants need their fertiliser so consider giving them a top up. Let’s take a look at what we should be doing in our gardens – wherever you live in this great country of ours.
FERTILSER: I cannot stress the importance of fertiliser. It is absolutely essential to get the best out of your plants and garden. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to get the fertilizer out – be generous and use a good organic fertiliser. Fertilise those well established trees and shrubs – our soils are generally pretty poor on this continent. Feed all the way out to the leaf line, water in well and soon you will see the results with fresh healthy new growth. Plants like Citrus, Gardenias and even some natives such as Banksias are often deficient in iron (the leaves lack that deep green colour and in extreme cases look yellow). Use Yates Chelated Iron but do not overdo it. Follow the instructions on the packet closely as too much can damage the plants.
ANNUALS: This is still a great time to establish those summer annuals like Impatiens, Calendula, Cosmos, Marigolds, Petunias, Phlox and Portulaca. Impatiens will do well in those not so sunny spots so give then a go. Portulacas are tough – they can handle the extreme heat and full sun so they’re good for rockeries and against those hot walls.
LAWNS: Lawns should be up and away by now so ease back on the fertiliser or you may be spending extra time behind the mower.
TREES AND SHRUBS: Ahead of summer mulch around your plants particularly plants with shallow root systems like azaleas. Prune plants like Pelargonium’s and Geraniums to encourage compact growth. If your Lavenders have finished flowering prune then, not too hard as most Lavenders won’t reshoot from old hard wood.
IN THE VEGETABLE PATCH: With a wet summer forecast it might be timely to improve you drainage – most vegetables like well drained soil. The wet weather also brings with it other challenges. Powdery mildew could be a problem particularly on Pumpkin vines, Cucumber, Beans, and Peas. Mildew is a fungus so most fungicides will help control it. You should remove affected leaves as soon as you see them and this will help reduce the spread. Healthy vigorous plants are less susceptible so keep you plants fertilised and adequately watered – don’t let the plants become stressed. If you haven’t tried some of the Asian greens them a go.
IN THE HERB GARDEN: Trim those woody and sprawling herbs such as Sage, Rosemary, Oregano and Thyme. Pull them back into shape and with the warmer weather coming, they’ll shoot out and provide a rich harvest.
ORGANIC TIP: With more of us making espresso coffee at home, put those spent coffee grounds to good use! Snails and slugs hate coffee and give it a wide berth so spread the grounds around the edge of the garden beds to form an effective barrier against these pests.