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Digger Dan’s Monthly Garden Tips March 2010

Digger Dan - Central landscapes

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The Veggie Garden

  • Powdery Mildew on leaves is the result of high temperatures and intermittent rain, often prevalent when vegetables such as courgettes are watered in the evenings. Mix I cup of milk into 1 litre of water and spray over plants.
  • Bacterial leaf spots appearing on veggies such as broccoli and tomatoes could well be the result of overhead watering in this heat. Don’t rush home and put the sprinkler on – buy a soak hose and get the water to the roots where the plants really need it.
  • Cut back tired herbs such as thyme, rosemary and mint and they’ll put on fresh growth. Don’t over water basil – it likes the dry heat and will keep growing ‘til May.
  • A good near natural deterrent and caterpillar control is Yates’ Success – it’ll save your crops from many of the latest invaders. 

  • Courgettes (zucchini) haven’t been pollinating in areas of high humidity – the female flowers have small unformed courgettes at the end of them, so find a male flower and push some of the pollen into the female flowers.
  • An autumn crop of lettuces, parsley and coriander will do well now, liquid feed (with Living Earth Liquid Compost) at planting and water regularly so they do not ‘bolt’.
  • Harvest garlic and onions – bumper red onion crops can be sliced, tossed over a minimum heat in the fry pan to caramelise into Onion Marmalade that keeps in the fridge for ages. Squeeze bulbs of roasted garlic into good store-bought mayo to convert to a very passable aioli.

The Rest of the Garden

  • Earwig invasion: screwed up newspaper at the base of plants or Yates’ Pyrethrum sprayed at dusk (so the foliage is still damp at night) will deal with these night owls. Discard newspaper in the morning – it should have a colony of earwigs inside!
  • Hydrophobic soils – that’s soil or mix that will not re-wet and the water just runs off it. If a soil or potting mix has dried out during long rain-free weather, it can get to the point where it won’t absorb water. Break it up, keep adding water until it begins to look wetter, then dig or fork through Living Earth compost to increase its water retention capacity. If it’s an ongoing problem in your garden bed or planter box, add some Aquaturf Max G wetting agent (or similar) to the mix.
  • Cleaning up versus balancing the eco-system: in the new movement to organic gardening it’s easy to say the weeds are a host for beneficial insects! However that’s a bit like saying “I’m not doing the dishes because I’m saving water.” Weeds are the undesirables you don’t like looking at in your garden; they steal water from your chosen plants and they’re busy seeding themselves now for next season. And if you look closely they’re probably harbouring disease on their foliage – this spreads to your other plants too. Do the ‘outdoor housework’ and give them the boot.
  • Feeding – Now’s good.  As soon as the soil gets wetter, the plants will want to grow. Roses, all shrubs and perennials, citrus trees and our NZ plants can use extra nutrients now. Living Earth Liquid Compost is available at all our yards and is a good top-up for your garden. (NZ plants and other phosphorus sensitive shrubs should be topped up with compost or use a specially formulated fertiliser).
  • Buy new season’s bulbs, but store in a cool place (hyacinths, tulips and daffs in the ‘fridge) and plant in April. Order on-line at www.nzbulbs.co.nz.

The Lawn

  • With autumn around the corner and temperatures starting to cool down it is time to turn attention to your lawn. After a long hot summer even existing lawns need some TLC and the sooner you do this the better it will look for the autumn.
  • This will enable your lawn to go into the winter months looking lush and healthy. If your lawn is looking tired, yellow, full of weeds or just a little thin then it’s time for an autumn renovation.
  • Fertilise with Turfmaster Gold to encourage strong growth.
  • Spray weeds with a broad range weed killer such to control broadleaf weeds.
    About 3-4 weeks later scarify the lawn heavily to create a good seed bed. 
    Oversow bare or weak areas with the appropriate Gti Prolawn seed blend and fertilise with Turfmaster Starter.

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