One month out from the shortest day and you can start to feel the beginnings of spring which is just around the corner. The long term weather forecast for August and September is for warmer than normal weather, which means a very good possibility of a early spring.
We have in the past couple of years tended to see a neat spring beginning and then the weather turning to custard during the October/November period but coming right later in December or early January.
The key then is to get started early with your vegetable and flower crops so that they can establish while conditions are good and be better to face any adverse weather conditions later in the season.
There are a number of things you can do to establish plants quicker in either open ground gardens or in containers.
For instance in the planting hole, place a few sheep manure pellets, a level teaspoon of Rok Solid and a level teaspoon of Gypsum. This should be applied to any seedlings planted out then water them in with a solution of Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) at the rate of 20 mils per litre of water.
The products suggested greatly assist strong root development thus quicker growth.
If you have grown the seedlings yourself or purchased them from a garden centre in punnets then there will be root disturbance when you separate them for planting. This sets back seedlings and causes them to lay down on the ground for days after transplanting out. Eventually they pick themselves up as they grow a new root system. You can greatly reduce this problem by spraying the seedlings with Vaporgard a couple of days before separating out. This takes the stress off the damaged roots; helps the plant gain more energy from the sun; protects the foliage from chilling winds, frosts, pests and diseases. This simple spray can save you days and give good protection to your new plantings.
Always soak the seedling’s punnet in a tub of water prior to transplanting it reduces root damage.
One of the biggest problems for early gardens in the winter/spring period is chilling winds, if you remove or reduce this factor then plants will grow 2 or 3 times faster.
Cutting the base off clear plastic bottles and then without the cap on, place them over plants, which will give your new plants their own little hot house. The 2 litre juice bottles are the best for this but 2 litre cordial ones are not too bad. Ensure you push the cut base well into the soil so they do not blow off in the wind.
Windbreak can be used around gardens to also assist in better establishment where it is not practical to place bottles over every plant. If you want to germinate seeds such as peas, carrots etc in open ground you need some heat to assist, otherwise the seeds are likely to rot in the wet cold ground.
To do this make a trench about 120mm wide and a similar depth; fill the trench with freshly cut grass clippings and pack down till the trench is two thirds full of mowed grass. Over this, place a nice layer of fine or sieved soil, a sprinkling of Rok Solid and Gypsum. Next sow your seeds along the row and spray them with a solution of MBL. Cover the seeds with nice friable soil and leave for the decomposing grasses to heat up the soil and aid the germination. You can add sheep manure pellets or BioBoost, Neem Tree Granules and animal manures to the grass layer for more goodness and protection from pests.
You need to keep the row moist during the period of germination and establishment but not wet.
Once you have a good strike of new foliage appearing you can further assist their development by spraying the tops with Vaporgard. Later once the plants are showing good establishment start a 2 weekly spray program using MBL and Mycorrcin. These two products will also not only speed up growth but will produce stronger, hardier growth too.
While you are about it don’t forget to spray your strawberry plants at the same time, the Mycorrcin will help to achieve ripe fruit earlier, give you a longer fruiting season and a increase in return of between 200 to 400%. Spray two weekly.
Once your roses start to leaf up apply the same spay to them as well for better results this season.
It is the time to start germinating seeds for the coming season. If you have a glasshouse or similar then you are in the box seat for getting your own germinated seedlings established before planting out.
You can germinate any suitable seeds indoors where it is warmer but as soon as you have a show then the tray must go out where it will receive overhead light. No good on a windowsill as the light is coming sideways and the young plants will stretch to the light making them weak. The more they stretch the greater the likelyhood of them dampening off or been useless.
If you have the right equipment, heat pad and glasshouse you can germinate and grow on the likes of tomatoes, capsicums, cucumbers, egg plants etc.
Now here is an interesting thing, you know those tomatoes that are sold in supermarkets that are on trusses. Nice uniformly sitting apart on their stalks?
Well last season about mid autumn I established a new raised garden and a self sown tomato plant came up. It grew rapidly and was one of the strongest tomato plants that I have seen for some time.
Later it set fruit and lo and behold the fruit had that distinct truss formation like the ones in the supermarket. It was too late in the season for the fruit to ripen and the plant was lost to the cold been in the open.
I figured that we had purchased some of those truss type tomatoes at sometime, some of the seeds ending up in my worm farms with the kitchen scraps and then the vermicast been added to my raised garden and the seed germinating. Because of the novelty of the trusses and the super strong growth of the tomato I went out and purchased a truss tomato and have taken some of the seeds to plant up this season to see how they will go. You might like to do the same. A point about tomatoes is that they always tend to come true to form even if they are hybrid breed.
Another tomato that I am going to germinate now is a Russian one called Silvery Fir Tree a cold loving dwarf growing tomato that produces heaps of small to medium size fruit for a very long fruiting period. I had great success with them a couple of seasons back growing in large 20 litre buckets and 45 litre containers. Its one where you do not remove laterals, just feed it well and let it grow.
You should find the seed packets in Garden Centres that stock Niche Seeds. It is also about the time to start off kumera tubers in trays to sprout for planting out later on.
Just pick up a few kumera from your green grocer (any colour) and layer them in moist sand in a suitable tray (about150mm depth) Yams are another one that you can start off in small pots in the glass house at this time for planting out when all signs of frosts are past.There is lots to do so get cracking