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August 2010 – Sue McDougall

Occasional warm days in August remind us that spring is only just around the corner. I get to this time of the year every year and wonder where the year has gone? Even the plants seem to know that spring is fast approaching.  Enjoy the garden at this time of the year.  New shoots appearing, buds swelling and signs of life on the roses ensure that every day is different in the garden.

Jobs to Do

Fill in any bare spots in the garden with hardy flowering groundcovers. With the shortages of water they are perfect as they thrive without reticulation and make excellent living mulches, sheltering large plants roots from the hot sun and reducing the evaporation rate from the soil. Look for myroporum, scaevola, grevilleas and convolvulus to name a few.

If you are having a wedding in your garden this spring, it is time to plant the seedlings to add a splash of colour. Choose a colour theme and go for it. Baskets, pots, wheelbarrows, almost any container can be planted up. Use premium quality potting mix and liquid fertilise with a fertiliser specifically for flowering plants fortnightly.

Feed the spring flowering bulbs with a complete bulb food. Some varieties will have finished flowering and by feeding them, you will be providing nutrients for the little embryo within the bulb ready for next season. Other varieties that are still to flower will benefit from some extra nutrients as the weather starts to warm up.

Aphids are seeking out the new growth on the vegetables and depending how heavy-handed you want to be there are many different remedies. Hosing off with a blast of water will deter a few. Natrasoap is a potassium based oil and is used by organic gardeners. Or, the use of Confidor, a very effective systemic insecticide with no toxic rating, will knock them over. Another very safe way is to be patient and wait for the ladybirds to mature. They love them and can devour over 400 aphids each.

Feed artichokes with a complete fertiliser as the first of the crop is nearly ready to pick.   Pick Broad Beans when small and tender, the flavour is at its best and don’t forget to save some seed for next season, particularly if you live in the west where quarantine restrictions have prohibited the import of the seed.

Rosemary is coming into flower and is one of the most versatile herbs. It is so drought tolerant and hardy it can be used for many situations in the garden as well as being used to flavour many dishes. It’s a perfect hedging plant or if you have limited space Rosemary Mozart is a trailing variety with dark blue flowers that grows happily in pots or hanging baskets.

Prune the citrus to shape if needed. This is carried out after they have finished fruiting, before they start flowering again. Apply a complete Citrus fertiliser and water in well.

Spray the grapevines with Lime sulphur to clean up any Leaf Blister Mites. Do not spray in temperatures above 22 degrees as it can burn soft new foliage.

Plant Now

Vegetables to plant now include beetroot, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celery, chilli, Chinese broccoli, choko, herbs, lettuce, mustard, spring onions, parsnip, pea, potato, silverbeet and tomato.

This year try growing tomatoes by seed. There are many varieties to choose from and they germinate so easily now. Sow in good quality seed raising mix and place in a well-lit position away from the cold. Plant out early-mid September. If there is a danger of frost place a 200mm pot upside down over them at night and remove through the day.

If you really want fruit trees but have limited room, hunt out a dwarf tree. They are easy to grow, fruit very well and don’t take up much space. They are ideal for those renting because they grow successfully in a pot in a sunny position.

Longing for fresh sweet basil for pasta dishes and salads? Get a head start on the cold and germinate some seeds now. They will be ready to plant out as soon as the weather warms up. Sow in a seed raising tray and cover with glass or sow in a mini greenhouse to keep the warmth in.

If the potato crop is coming to the end, it’s time to plant some more. If you live in a frost prone area some of those late frosts can kill the plant overnight. Keep the growing foliage covered in straw or soil until the danger of frost is gone.

It’s time to plant chilli seeds as well. A fantastic range of seeds available means there is a chilli to suit every taste, from sweet to the very hottest!


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