Watering, fertilising, planting and feeding: this month’s jobs in the garden from Digger Dan.
Watering and water savings:
Water newly planted seedlings frequently as their roots are close to the surface, so they dry out quickly. Warmer temperatures and an easing up on the rainfall that we’ve had means that watering daily is imperative for newly planted vegetable & flower seedlings with very small (close to surface) roots.
Try mixing some compost into the soil at planting time to aid moisture retention. And November is the BEST month to mulch: weed around plants, make sure the soil is moist and layer on mulch, to a depth of 75mm. Try to ensure the mulch is not right up against plant stems.
Digger’s Tip: Grey water from the laundry, kitchen sink or from a bucket placed in the shower is a good source of watering for outdoor pots and containers – and getting into the habit of doing this means potted plants are watered regularly.
Plant all the summer veggies now, as well as sowing basil and beans. Crops of summer vegetables should all go in the ground now, plus melons. Digger prefers to wait until this month to sow basil (near the tomatoes) and beans. And if your crop of blueberries was a bit thin last year, plant a different variety nearby.
Spray aphids on vegetables etc. with organic Neem Oil; use Confidor on scale and sprinkle Quash around young seedlings to get rid of slugs and snails. It’s aphid season on roses and other ornamentals, as well as aphids and whitefly in the veggie garden where lettuces, tomatoes and chives are under attack (black aphids in the case of chives and the rest of the onion family). Try Oakdale Organics certified organic Neem Oil on edibles to control these.
Stephen Plant, proprietor of Oakdale Organics, says that they have successfully used Neem Oil in the seedling nursery for several years now. Digger likes to use Confidor on the ornamentals – Confidor isn’t organic, but it doesn’t kill the ladybirds or other carnivores that feast on aphids and its pretty rain-proof, staying active in the plant for 10 days. Try using Confidor or Conqueror Oil to treat scale on bay trees, camellias and topiary box plants. Slugs and Snails bred furiously in this wetter spring, so it is a good idea to deal to them now especially where new foliage on young plants is coming through, such as hostas, dahlias and lettuce seedlings. Quash is a snail bait that is pet and bird friendly. Lastly bird netting over the berries is advisable if you actually want some fruit to eat….
Liquid feed with a liquid compost (Living Earth’s is good) around or on all plants. Used fortnightly at this time of the year will give you healthy, strong plants.
Outdoor housework (aka “thanks for coming, but you can go now”):
Trim back the finished flowers of late winter and early spring, so that the summer performers have lots of room to grow. Cut back the dying heads of euphorbias – they do attract flies; the flowers of hellebores (winter roses) – they are aphid magnets; and spent camellia blooms – fallen flowers can harbour Camellia Blight.
How about lawns?
Fertilise, fertilise, fertilise. That’s the key at this time of year. We are now finally starting to get spring growth in our lawns and with this come a much greater demand from the plant for food, especially nitrogen.
Poor nutrition is the single biggest factor for lawns failing. The reasons are not always understood because New Zealanders historically sowed their lawn and the only maintenance done from that day on was to scalp it once a week. When a lawn is hungry the plant has a reduced capacity to handle stress whether it is heat, draught, wear and tear or even pest damage and weed invasion. It is essential to have strong healthy plants that are robust and prepared for stress.
The best way to fertilise a lawn is with a slow releasing fertiliser which will give you two major benefits. The first is that grass plants always want available nutrients and as slow release fertilisers supply a constant trickle of nutrients the plant always has that food when it needs it. The second major benefit is that slow release fertilisers can last up to 12 weeks which means that you do not have to worry about frequent applications. Slow release fertilisers are usually non-burning and safe to apply in any conditions.
Turfmaster Gold 22-2-4 is high performance professional grade slow release fertiliser which is perfect for use on all lawn grass types. Turfmaster Gold is available in 4kg and 22.7kg packs. Turfmaster Gold and other ProLawn products are available at some nurseries and garden centres. Always sweep or blow fertiliser granules off any paths or tiled areas as they may stain. Apply fertilisers with a suitable spreader such as the GTi hand spreader. It is not recommended that you apply high quality fertilisers by hand.
Turn the compost heap
Turn your home compost heap to aerate it and speed up the composting process. Aerating your compost is especially important after the heavy rain of the past month or so – this will allow more heat in, thus speeding up the composting process.