Wally Richards – Easter Gardening

Easter is fast approaching and for many working people it is a great time to get the summer gardens cleaned up and preparations made for the coming winter.

It is also the last chance to do some late plantings of vegetables and flowers for winter use and colour.

In the vegetable garden you can do a late planting of winter type brassicas such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. As white butterflies are still flitting around the garden you can place some Neem Tree Granules in the planting hole and about a teaspoon full on the soil around the plant. This helps reduce damage from the caterpillars and gives the young plants a good start.

Further protection can be done by cutting the base off 2 litre clear plastic bottles and place one of these over each plant with the cap removed. Once the plants have settled in and started growing nicely you can speed up their development by watering in a weak solution of nitrogen.

There are two ways this can be obtained, take a few handfuls of fresh chicken manure (or any other manure) and place in a large bucket filled with non chlorinated water. Stir occasionally and once a week take about a litre or two of the solution off and apply about 100mls per plant after having watered the area they are growing in. Do not pour over the foliage just on the soil in the root zone.
The other way is to take Urea or sulphate of ammonia and place 50 grams into 10 litres of water to dissolve the granules. Apply about 500 mls of this to each plant after watering the area.
The use of these nitrogen rich solutions can only be used weekly for about a month to boost growth before the winter chills strike. Come about the middle of April you have to firm up the growth gained by applying about a level tablespoon of sulphate of potash (potassium sulphate) to the soil around each plant previously treated. Lightly water in preferably with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL)
The above treatments can be applied to both vegetable and flower seedlings planted at this time.

A further advantage is to place a few sheep manure pellets and a little blood & bone in every planting hole, cover with a little soil and then in with your seedling.
If you have been growing capsicums or peppers in open ground over the summer you will likely loose these to the chills of winter. That is a waste in my mind as given adequate shelter these plants will keep on preforming for you right through the winter and for a few years with care.
If you would like to keep them going pick out the best preforming plants and spray the foliage under and over with Vaporgard and leave for a few days. This helps reduce transplant shock when you lift them and pot them into a small bucket or 20 cm pot. Use a friable compost for the extra mix needed. Place the pots initially in a sheltered semi shaded area while they settle down.

Later place back in full sun and as winter settles in, move them to a sunny frost free spot or into a glasshouse/conservatory to grow on through the winter. During winter keep the pots a little on the dry side during the cold times.

This leads me to the next point at this time of the year reduce your watering of the gardens. It is best to turn off the irrigation systems and water by hand just to moisten up the soil. If you still need to use  an irrigation system only run it for a very short time. Too much moisture during the cooler months does more harm than good.

As the cooler weather comes we need to firm up our garden plants and the best way to do this is to sprinkle some Fruit and Flower Power around the garden. The product contains both magnesium and potash in balance which means it will firm up growth and aid in keeping the foliage green.
In areas where early frosts are likely you need to spray any frost tender plants with Vaporgard.
This natural product gives plants frost protection down to minus three for three months within 3 days of application. A further application can be applied in June. If you have two or more frosts in a row, night after night, additional protection will be needed.

It is a good time to pot up some flower plants for colour around your entrance ways. Use purchased compost for the growing medium (not potting mix) and add some sheep manure pellets and blood & bone to the mix. Flowers to choose from includes cyclamen, cineraria, lobelia, primula, dwarf stocks, polyanthus, pansies etc. Keep moist but don’t over water.
Preparations for sowing new lawns or patching up existing should be well underway at this time and if you have ensured that most of the weed seeds in the area have germinated and the resulting weeds killed you can, if you have no water restrictions, sow your lawn seed. If you want a good lawn you have to sow a top quality lawn seed. Super Strike is one that I am lead to believe is of very good quality.

Damp weather brings out the snails and slugs and even those these fellows are excellent in the garden for breaking down decaying matter they are a pest if they attack our preferred plants.
Poison baits are bad news for pets and wild life and the only bait I recommend would be Quash which does no harm to soil or pets.
Alternatively sprays of Liquid Copper with Raingard added over susceptible plants and over the soil around them creates a perfect barrier against slugs and snails while the copper particles are present.
Now that autumn has arrived roses and a number of other plants are coming into their end of the season time and thus Nature takes over and diseases such as black spot, mildew and rusts will appear.
This is natural and you will waste your time and money trying to combat them now.
On the other hand young plants such as celery, pansies etc should be protected with sprays of Liquid Sulphur and Baking Soda.

Insect pests such as whitefly and leaf hoppers are also coming to an end as the winter seeps in.
It is still an advantage to keep up your sprays of Neem Tree Oil to ensure that their populations will not be too high come spring.
In both the vegetable garden and flower garden you can let one of each plant go to seed to harvest the seeds later on for next season. This is a great savings as the seeds are free.
Easter is also a good time to have a look around your garden and check the shrubs and trees to see if they are starting to crowd each other and gauge if any are causing problems for your neighbours.
Trim back all offending ones so that each plant receives its share of sunlight.

Trees that have got too tall and causing shading problems for the folk next door should be topped.
Also check trees that are planted in front of your sections to make sure they are trimmed back if reaching over footpaths. Likewise any trees that are reaching into power lines should be cut back.
It is nice to have a good range of trees and shrubs growing but the same may not be so nice for the people next door.
Trimmings should be put through a chipper and mulched back over gardens or placed in the compost.
It is free food for your gardens so don’t waste it.

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