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November 2010 – Sue McDougall

With a warm spring the roses are just spectacular.  Their dark glossy foliage and perfect, blemish-free flowers inspire me to want to plant more in my garden.  The heady mix of citrus blossom, wisteria and roses at dusk remind me why I love the garden. It’s very easy to get caught up in the process of the garden rather than the reason we are creating it. Before the weather gets too hot, enjoy the mild days and spend time outdoors.

The number one subject on everyone’s mind is the water situation and how can the garden survive with one day a week watering this month. In December watering days will return to the summer regime of two days a week.  If you have a garden bore your watering days haven’t changed.

Jobs to Do

Water saving products work in the garden and there is no better time to be applying a wetting agent to the whole garden. If you have never used one before, you will be amazed at the difference. They stop the water running off the soil surface and make best use of the water that is applied.

Mulching the garden this month is a must. Mulch should be applied to any bare areas of soil and existing areas topped up to 50-70mm. The best mulch to use for general garden beds is a coarse blend that allows the water to soak through it to get to the soil surface, where it’s needed. Effective mulches reduce water evaporation and keep the soil around the roots cool. Many fine mulches create a water repellent layer or absorb the water and the plants roots stay bone dry. Try putting your hand under a mulch layer on a hot day, you will soon feel the difference.

When planting, apply hydrated water storing granules to the soil and mix in with soil improver. These granules swell and store water for when a plant needs them. In existing pots dig a small hole and place a few granules around the pot. Be careful not to put in too many or they will swell too much and spill over the sides of the pot. Ultra violet light breaks down water storing granules and so they need to be dug into the soil.

Repeat harvest lettuce will benefit from an application of soluble liquid fertiliser such as Powerfeed every two weeks. Powerfeed will encourage them to grow fast and the leaves will be sweet. Try growing in a part shaded position at this time of the year. If lettuce are grown slowly at this time of the year they tend to be bitter and inedible.

It’s time to brighten up the entertaining area for the BBQ season. Look for varieties of plants that will add some interest through the foliage form or colour. Mass planted in large pots they will add a statement and put on a spectacular show for many years.

Feed the lawn with a complete slow release lawn fertiliser that will feed the roots and the foliage over the next 6 to 8 weeks. A quality slow release lawn fertiliser will help drought proof the lawn by strengthening the root system of the plant and releasing the nutrients to the foliage gradually. A dose of quick release high nitrogen fertiliser at the moment only makes the lawn thirsty.

With the summer well and truly on its way, cool shady trees spring to mind. A few strategically placed trees planted in the backyard or front yard will reduce the immediate surrounding temperature by up to 10 degrees, nature’s natural air conditioning. This creates a unique microclimate and makes growing smaller, more sensitive plants easier. Trees will also save water by shading the soil and reducing evaporation.

In limited areas a good idea for a contained no fuss garden is put a bag of quality soil improver on its side and cut 8 small holes big enough to plant seedlings in. Slit the bag so it is easy to water and poke holes in the bottom for drainage. Plant silverbeet or repeat lettuce leaves and place in a sunny position. They will be ready to harvest in 3 or 4 weeks. At the end of the crop throw the bag of soil improver on the garden and start again.

What to Plant

Sow or plants seedlings of beans, dwarf beans, beetroot, bok choi cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celery, chilli, Chinese broccoli, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, endive, honey dew melon, lettuce (all varieties), pumpkin, radish, rhubarb, rock melon, silverbeet, squash, sweet corn, sweet potato shoots, tomatoes, water melon, zucchini

Sow or plant seedlings of ageratum, alyssum, amaranthus, aster, begonias, celosia, cockscomb, coleus, cosmos, dahlia, geraniums, gerbera, gloxinia, impatiens, marigolds, nasturtiums, petunias, phlox, portulaca, salvia, sunflower, verbena, zinnia.

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