It can often be just too hot to get out in the garden at this time of year and lots of plants get left to their own devices! If you do nothing else for this month concentrate on the basics – watering, and the control of disease and bugs. Water less frequently but longer the soil and check your garden over on a regular basis; remove any leaves that show signs of diseases to help control its spread and stop a bug infestation before they take over.
Garlic is harvested at this time of the year, you will know this when the tops have flowered, turned yellow and the lower leaves have started to turn brown. Garlic is useful not just in the kitchen but as an effective spray against caterpillars.
Garlic caterpillar spray
Mix together, 100g Garlic – roughly chopped and 2thsp of mineral oil (almond is good). Soak this mix for 48 hours. Add half a litre of water and 30g pure soap to the mix the filter through muslin or an old stocking, store in an old plastic container ready for use. To use mix 15ml (3tsp) to 1 litre of water apply every 10-14 days, making sure you get under the leaves as well. Natural sprays can cause damage, use the same sensible precautions that you would with chemicals, measure your ingredients don’t guess the amounts and trial a small patch first. Spraying in the evening is best, when the bees have gone home and as there is oil in the mix you will avoid the sun burning foliage. Watering and rain will wash away the spray residue so reapply when necessary making sure you get to the undersides of the leaves.
Silver beet and spinach are year round crops, stagger your plantings so that you have an all year supply. Pick the outside leaves first when harvesting, leaving 4-5 inner leaves the plant will keep growing.Plant leeks, celery, carrots cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and broccoli as space become available. Tomatoes need some attention at this time, remove any leaves that are shading the fruit, to encourage the ripening process. Also any that are close to the ground they are often splashed with mud, That encourages soil borne diseases which infects the fruit – remove damaged fruit. Keep feeding a liquid feed right up to the end.
If your strawberries have finished producing it is time to tidy up them up and put them to bed for the winter. As a rule of thumb strawberry plants need to be replaced every 3 years.
Remove any plants that show signs of disease
Clip away damaged and old leaves on existing plants
Separate any runners from the main plant, gently lift if they have taken root – these are your new plants. Plant in a new bed or replace older plants in an existing bed, they will develop in to crowns in the coming months.
Feed with strawberry food or blood and bone, replenish the mulch, keep weed free and leave them rest until spring.
Check for Lemon tree borer, citrus is a very soft wood and the borer can quickly take hold; this can be controlled by squirting a small amount of kerosene in the hole and then plugging the hole with any putty like substance. Scale is also a problem on citrus and often your first sign will be that your tree has become infested with Ants. The Ants aren’t the problem they are busy “farming” the scale for the substance called honey dew that they secret.
Follow our simple chart for year round spray programme.
When What Insect Control December Copper Oxychloride Verrucosis, brown rot and thrips February Spraying Oil + Copper Oxychloride Scale insect -make sure you get under the leaves as well. May Copper Oxychloride Verrucosis, brown rot and thrips June Copper Oxychloride Verrucosis, brown rot and thrips
Spring bulbs will now start appearing in stores and they are really very easy to grow. Always plant in well prepared ground, the soil needs to be well broken up so there are no clumps. Dig through plenty of compost through the soil add a small handful of blood and bone or bulb food to the top layer and lightly fork this though. Feed your bulbs again with the blood and bone when you see green growth appear, always water after fertilising. Bulbs are usually planted top pointing up sometimes this can be a little difficult to tell and if you ever get stuck you can always plant them on their sides and leave it to nature to sort out.
Most bulbs can be left in the ground for many years before you need to divide them up, the exceptions are tulips and hyacinths; they are just too tender to winter over in the ground and will often rot away even if they are in pots. If you already have large clumps of bulbs and you want to divide them up now is the time to do this, start by getting right underneath the clump losing the soil all the way around then gently lift the clump up as a whole, then with your hands work out the bulbs from the clump. Discard any bulbs that have rotted then prepare the soil where you are going to replant them with adding some bulb food to the soil. Don’t leave them out of the ground to long especially if they are in the sun.
It is easy to forget where you have planted you bulbs mark them with a small stake to avoid inadvertently digging them up and if want your plantings to look natural, grab a handful of bulbs and gently roll them on the ground, plant them where they stop.