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July 2011 – Sue McDougall

The rain jacket has come out of the cupboard and the spiders have been chased out of the gumboots. It is time to do all those projects that have been put off until the rain came. It’s here and a few damp days are not going to stop anyone.

Even though we wish with all our hearts that it is going to rain every day in winter we know in reality it will not happen.  There are still many sunny days to enjoy and spend time in the garden.  For those who live on clay soil it is easy to dig a hole now and for those who have sandy soil, it is damp enough for the hole to not fill back in as soon as it is dug.

Jobs to Do

On a wet rainy day, grab the raincoat, don the wellies and a bucket of blood and bone and spread this around the whole garden. Take advantage of the ‘free’ water to wash it through to the root system.

All children love fresh home, grown strawberries and there is no better time to plant the new crop. Virus-free runners are available in the garden centres. These are ready to flower very quickly so the little kids and the big kids too don’t have to wait very long for fresh fruit. They are so cheap to buy.  Don’t scrimp on numbers.  They make a great groundcover and if you have extra fruit left over I’m sure there will be no shortage of takers. Strawberries grow very well in pots, hanging baskets or in the garden bed, filling in any spots where you can see soil.

It’s time to plant up any areas of the garden that will have to fend for themselves in the warmer months without any reticulation. By planting small starter plants now, they will have a better chance of surviving.

July is the best time of the year to establish a herb garden. They love rich, damp soil and will get established very quickly. All herbs require a full sun position and can be grown successfully in pots if space is at a premium. Herbs are rewarding to grow because they can be harvested only a few weeks after planting. Easy herbs to grow now include parsley, coriander, thyme, oregano, chives and thyme.

If you are looking for a hardy, drought-tolerant ornamental fruiting tree, look no further than the quince. Looking like large, furry apples this once forgotten fruit has become very popular again. It develops a gorgeous red colour once cooked and makes great pies and jelly. Never try to eat a quince raw as you will know all about it! The tree is very ornamental with large, single pink flowers followed by lime green foliage in the spring.  It’s perfect for a hot dry garden.

On a fine sunny day it is rose pruning month. Spray with lime sulphur after pruning to clean up any fungal spores or insects.  Spray stone fruit trees with a copper-based spray to clear up any fungus such as peach leaf curl.

At this time of the year we are looking for lots of bright colour to cheer ourselves up and you can’t go past Polyanthus. A small perennial in cool areas of the state and an annual everywhere else, there are some fantastic new colours available this year. Only growing to 20cm high they are ideal for borders, baskets, pots or windowsills. Look out for the yellows as they are the perfumed ones.

It’s time to protect any tropical plants from the cold. Cover them up with some shadecloth or clear plastic to create a mini hot house. Remember to put it around at least one metre from the tree. Bring any plants such as Crotons or Diffenbachias inside and place them next to a large window where they will get the warmth and light.

In the areas south of Perth,  mango trees develop a fungus called Anthracnose. This fungus can cause blackening of stems and leaves. It can damage the tree so much that it will start to die back which is not good for the following season’s flowering in early spring. Spray with Mancozeb Plus at the beginning of July and then again four weeks later.

On early flowering, azaleas petal blight is starting to appear. This is when the flowers become spotted, mushy and brown and tend to hang onto the plant. These also need an application of Mancozeb Plus fungicide as the flower buds are starting to show colour to prevent this fungus destroying all the flowers.


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