From Jon Lamb Communications
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November 12, 2021

Have you mulched the garden yet?

Mulching has to be one of the most effective ways of reducing the amount of water you use in the garden. 
Extensive trials in South Australia now confirm savings of 25 to 30 percent in the amount of water used are possible through the simple act of covering garden soils with a layer of mulch.
The best mulches are organic as they improve soil structure and add nutrients to the soil as they decompose. 
However, they do break down quite quickly and need to be topped up each year.
On the other hand, if your soil is in good shape and your main concern is to save moisture, mulch made from coarse or chunky material (2 - 4 cm pieces) will allow rain to pass quickly through into the soil.

Different mulches for different gardens

Formal and cottage gardens look good with a fine textured, even mulch such as a cottage mix. 
Native gardens and modern Australian gardens are more suited to coarse textured mulch, such as forest fines. 
Composted bark chips of various sizes complement any neat, structured garden. 
Composted green waste is an excellent, cost-effective choice. 
Check at your local supplier or landscape supply yard to see what is available. 
Different grades of mulch are also available by the bag from most garden centres.
Whichever mulch you use, make sure it has been fully composted as this will ensure it is free of weeds and weed seeds.
If you live in a high bushfire risk area, check with the Country Fire Service about the best way to use mulch in your garden.

Look out for leaf-eating caterpillars

After a cool to mild start to spring don’t be surprised if you find many of your garden plants under attack from a number of leaf-eating caterpillars.
The most damaging is likely to be a small green caterpillar which is the juvenile stage of light brown apple moth (LB AM).
The tell-tale calling card is usually two leaves held close together, or a single leaf rolled at the edge.
However, LBAM is only one of many different coloured caterpillars that are starting to cause considerable damage.
When small, caterpillars tend to graze on the surface of leaves but as they grow they can quickly remove large leaf sections.
Caterpillar control is easily achieved by spraying affected areas with Spinosad (Success Ultra).
This is a very low toxic chemical that stops caterpillars from feeding.

Contest picks our most important plants

The power of plants to provide colour and interest in the garden, reconnect people with wildlife and the environment as well as act as a strong emotional reminder was once again on display during the ABC Saturday TalkBack Gardening Powerful Plants photographic competition.
The contest, to photographically identify plants that contribute most to SA gardens and the environment, was to celebrate 30 years of ABC Gardening Australia magazine.
Here are just two of the 10 winning entries along with reasons why these were selected as powerful plants.
ABC listener Linda:
The sun-loving xanthorrhoea quadrangula (Mt Lofty grass tree).
It glistens in the sunshine and rain drops cling making it look like a sparkling fountain lamp. Stunning shape and form, magic native plant local to area.
ABC listener Ellen:
We are custodians of an ancient river redgum. Birds, possums, koala, microbats, skinks and invertebrates rely on it. Leaves and bark drop, becoming part of the soil. With hollows, it magnificently stands tall, giving us joy, wonder and shade every day.
Feature plantsof the week

Award-winning Australian roses

The ability of Australian rose breeders to produce top-quality roses was again on display at the recent National Rose Trial Gardens awards.
This week’s rose selections from Brian Wagner include two bronze medal winners from Australian rose breeder Richard Walsh.


This award-winning floribunda rose produces apricot blooms fading to the outer petals.
The medium-sized blooms are produced in clusters and are good for picking. Height 130 cm.

Samantha’s Dream

A dainty repeat flowering hybrid tea rose with medium-sized blooms in shades of apricot.
These are produced as single blooms on long stems with very few prickles. Light fragrance. Height 120 cm.
Samantha’s Dream
Wagners Rose Nursery
One of the largest and longest-running
rose nurseries in Australia »

Sweet 'n Neat tomatoes for tight spaces

When there is limited space in the garden to grow top, tasty tomatoes check out the latest Patio Patch tomato from Living Colour – it’s Tomato Patio Sweet 'n Neat.
Sweet 'n Neat is the perfect pick for balconies or other extra small garden spaces, as it only grows 20 to 30 cm high and is almost as wide.
This makes it ideal for container growing on a balcony table or planting in small raised garden bed.
Sweet 'n Neat has been selected for its ability to produce a constant supply of bite-sized, sweet-tasting fruits, in grape-like clusters over an extended harvest.
Like most cherry tomatoes it has excellent resistance to disease and tolerance to heat.
This is a great tomato to pick and eat straight from the bush, as it has a garden-fresh taste all of its own.
Patio Patch Sweet 'n Neat needs a sunny location and performs best in quality potting mix or well-drained organically improved soil.
Feed regularly and keep well watered during the warmer weather.

Living Colour NurseryTomato Patio Sweet ‘n Neat are in stock at Heyne's Garden Centre, Beulah Park, Semaphore Pets & Gardens and Barrow & Bench, Malvern and should be available at other good gardening centres next week.

Anne Greenaway a great groundcover

Anne Greenaway blooms with spikes of rose-coloured, hooded flowers, stacked beautifully above glowing foliage.
This long-flowering lamium is a standout groundcover plant, creating a carpet of bright colour and light in the darker places of the garden.
The spikes of hooded rose flowers that appear on Anne Greenaway in mid spring, spot flower through summer and continue to appear through autumn.
Once established this lamium is tolerant of shade and dry conditions.
An excellent plant for growing in containers and hanging baskets or used for edging courtyard paths or as a feature groundcover.

Anne Greenaway lamiums are in stock at Heyne's Garden Centre, Beulah Park, Semaphore Pets & Gardens and Barrow & Bench, Malvern and should be available at other good gardening centres.
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Tomato taste improved by adding potash

The quality, taste and texture of the tomatoes you grow can be improved considerably by adding small quantities of sulphate of potash once the plants begin to flower.
In garden beds, use 1 tablespoon of sulphate of potash dissolved in 4 L of water for each large plant.
This can be applied on a monthly basis.
However, more is not better. In fact, increasing the rate for the frequency of potash is likely to become counter-productive.

Don’t lose tomatoes to blossom end rot

Early reports indicate we could be in for a good crop of tomatoes this summer.
However, early crops are often affected by an unusual disorder known as Blossom End Rot.
This is where the base end of the fruit turns black and is quite disfigured.
Reducing nitrogen levels early in the plant’s growing season, increasing potash levels along with mulching, will all combine to help reduce the incidence of this problem.

Do your fruit trees need thinning?   

Fruit thinning of stone and pome fruits should be carried out soon after the tree has completed its first natural shedding of fruit.
This is usually 4 to 6 weeks after the last petals fall.
However, to reduce biannual bearing problems this task needs to be completed by late November, when the trees begin to form next season’s fruit buds.
The aim should be to achieve an even spread of fruit over the trees canopy.
Be prepared to reduce fruit clusters as well as removing individual fruits.

Citrus fruit drop         

Citrus trees are going through their final fruit shed or natural thinning. 
Make sure the trees are not stressed for moisture at this critical stage, as they may drop more young fruits than they should.

Perfect time for roses

As the first spectacular flush of rose blooms begin to fade it’s time for a little “rose care”.
Start by deadheading any flowers that have finished blooming by pruning to a dormant node below the old flower.
Check the foliage for fungal diseases such as black spot and insect pests, particularly aphids.
Where necessary spray with Seasol EarthCare Rose Black Spot and Insect Spray. But don’t spray if there are beneficial insects like ladybirds present.
Make sure the plants are well mulched with an organic product that breaks down quickly. Then check the soils moisture level. Roses respond to deep watering – at least once a week during warm weather.
Roses are also hungry when they are fully grown.
A liquid feed with a rose food formulated for roses such as PowerFeed Pro Series Roses and Flowers is ideal.
This contains additional potassium to improve flowering as well as a soil improver to ensure roses can take up nutrients from the soil.

More information »

Indian Summer Crêpe myrtles in favour

Indian summer crêpe myrtles are capturing the hearts of South Australian gardeners.
They are small, compact, have incredible tolerance to heat and drought and outstanding resistance to powdery mildew.
They also have an ability to flower for many weeks through the heat of summer.
In autumn the leaves colour well before falling, revealing very attractive, smooth-patterned bark.
These trees deserve to be right at the top of our landscape planting lists.

Many sizes
While varieties are available in a wide range of sizes some of the best small trees include:
  • Acoma 3 m – White
  • Lipan 4 m – Pink
  • Sioux 4.5 m – Hot Pink
  • Tonto 3 m – Fuchsia Pink
  • Tuscarora 5 m – Fuchsia Pink

Diamonds in the Dark           

An outstanding new series released last year. The foliage and bark is nearly black, while the canopy is compact and upright (2.5 to 3 m).
As such, Diamonds in the Dark are likely to be widely grown in small sun-drenched courtyards.
The colour range includes vivid pinks, orange and white.

Take control in your garden

Wanting a simple solution for water diversion and flow control in your irrigation system?
South Australian made Green Back® Valves are perfect for allowing you to control where water goes in your garden.
Green Back® Valves allow for multiple irrigation systems to be connected to the one water source.
By installing Green Back Valves at the beginning of your system, you can easily control which section of your garden is being watered as well as controlling how long that section receives water.
This allows for greater control over watering times and leads to less water wastage.

More information »

Soil pH – why it’s important  

pH is simply a term used to indicate whether the soil is alkaline or acid. 
A soil that is neutral has a pH of 7.  Most plants prefer to grow in a soil that is slightly acid to neutral i.e. a pH of 5.5 to 7. 
Unfortunately, many of the soils in South Australia are alkaline with a pH of between 8 and 9.
The best way to determine the pH of your soil is to have it tested. 
Many garden centres provide a free testing service or you can buy a soil pH testing kit.

Garden sulphur will help

The simplest and cheapest way to reduce the pH of soil that is not too alkaline (i.e. below 8.5 pH) is to add garden sulphur to the top soil.
You will need to spread 50-100gm to the square metre and it will take 6-8 weeks for the chemical reaction to take place.

Why seaweed is so often recommended

Home garden seaweed products contain a range of essential hormones and growth regulators that are capable of stimulating plant’s roots (and leaves) and also the soil microbes responsible for making nutrients available to the plant.
The most widely used products in SA are, Seasol, and eco-seaweed.
  • Seasol is sold as a concentrated liquid and when diluted with water, it can be used to soak the plant’s roots or applied as a foliar spray.
  • eco-seaweed is a powdered form of seaweed. It is very concentrated (10g per 20 litres of water) and, again, used as a soil drench or foliar spray.

Worm juice                 

Concentrated liquids from worm farms are now starting to appear in garden outlets.
These contain a wide range of essential plant and soil nutrients but in very small quantities.
They should be considered as a plant stimulant that is useful in overcoming various forms of stress.
Like seaweed products, they should not be considered as a fertiliser.
Lawn Care – Stefan Palm, Paul Munns

Establishing lawn from seed

When you need a lawn but you also need to consider costs, don’t overlook the benefits of sowing seed – it’s by far the cheapest way to go.
While spring is an ideal time to start sowing and conditions this season are looking good,  turf consultant Stefan Palm points out, there are important issues that need to be considered.
In this week’s lawn blog Stefan considers a number of these, such as choosing the right variety of turf for your lawn,  how much will the operation cost and what do you need to do in the way of preparation before you start sowing.
Stefan also provides practical advice on what you need to do to achieve success.

More information »
Paul Munns Instant Lawn

Look at me, eat me chillies   

Chillies that are both edible and ornamental are starting to appear in garden centres. 
They certainly look great when covered with their bright and often multi-coloured fruits – ideal for Christmas decoration – unless of course you can’t resist the taste of garden fresh chillies.
The latest releases offer a wide range of fruit colours, shapes and flavours but they now have greater uniformity in terms of their growing habits. 

Some like it hot

When eating chillies, be aware each variety has its own particular flavour and a degree of heat ranging from sweet and mild to hot, severe and even catastrophic.
Those who like their chillies hot should look for the following varieties and types:
  • Habanero – one of the hottest – 10 on a scale out of 10.Can be used in salsas and sauces as it combines both heat and flavour.
  • Thai chillies – these are not quite as hot as habanero (7-8 on a scale of 10) and are widely used in Asian and Mexican cooking.
  • Jalapeno – moderately hot (5-6 out of 10).Use fresh, green or red in salsas or sauces, also dips when a little spice is needed.

Onion and garlic lookalikes   

Most cooks rely heavily on onions and garlic to provide strong, rich flavours. 
While both plants are best established in autumn, there are a number of closely related taste-a-likes that can be grown now and will provide similar flavours.
  • Chives (30 cm).Very easy to grow.Shade in summer and keep well watered.Buy two or three established clumps in pots and continually harvest the leaves.Mild onion flavour.
  • Garlic chives.Similar but with mild garlic flavour.
  • Shallots (40 cm).Produce clumps of small onion-like bulbs that can be left in their containers and harvested (after leaves have died down) when they are needed.
  • Society garlic (40 cm).Produces edible flowers with mild garlic flavour over a very long period.

Weeds not for digging

Weeds that grow from small bulbs, root division or underground roots are best controlled through the use of a systemic herbicide containing glyphosate. 
Glyphosate moves through the plant killing both the top growth and the roots. 
Pulling by hand or cultivating can be counter-productive, as any small pieces or bulbils left in the soil are likely to regrow, resulting in further contamination.

Replacing the O-ring  

Many gardeners now rely heavily on low-cost “snap on” fittings to join a range of water related products to their irrigation hoses.
These rely on small rubber O-rings to create a waterproof seal between the inner and outer fitting.
Constant use quickly results in the seals becoming worn (or broken) resulting in yet another annoying leak.
Fortunately these seals are easily replaced and are readily available from most garden and hardware outlets.
You may consider replacing all O-rings on constantly used fittings at the beginning of each season.

Quick guide to trimming topiary                  

When it comes to trimming topiary plants growing in a container, consider where the most vigorous growth is being produced.
As a general guide most plants grow towards the strongest light.
With topiary plants this is likely to be on the top half of the plant and if the plants are growing in shade on the sides receiving the strongest light. Keep this in mind when you trim.
Depending on the amount of growth made, you will need to trim the top half (or the well lit side of the plant) harder than the bottom half (or the side receiving low light).
If you simply trim the plants lightly all over most of the leaf growth will be at the top of the plant or if shade is the problem, lopsided plants.
Tip: The problem of lopsided growth on relatively small container grown topiary and ornamental plants (caused by uneven light) can be prevented by rotating their containers by 90° every 2 to 3 months or maybe every season.

Please keep your questions
for Talkback Gardening

Good Gardening  is unable to answer individual reader's questions via email. If you're looking for specific advice please give me a call on ABC Radio Adelaide's Saturday morning Talkback Gardening  or ask at your local garden centre.
Saturday & Sunday, November 13 & 14
Doole Garden
95 Montarra Road, Dingabledinga (near Willunga)

The Station Master's House
4 New Road, Clare

(Sunday only) 10 Delaney Avenue, Willunga

Gardens open 10 am to 4.30 pm.
Entry $8 - OGSA members; $6 - Government concession card holders; children under 18 free.

More information on the 2021 season »
Weather forecasts

Talkback Gardening tomorrow

ABC Talkback Gardening podcastsABC Radio Adelaide Talkback Gardening this Saturday, 8.30 am to 10 am – phone Deb Tribe and me on 1300 222 891 and have your own gardening question answered.

Towards a top tomato harvest with Penny Woodward, Horticultural Editor ABC Organic Gardener. Penny will focus on feeding, shaping and protecting your tomato plants.

Garden centre directory

Leading Adelaide garden centres recommended by Good Gardening newsletter.

Heynes Garden Centre

Heyne's Garden Centre
283-289 The Parade, Beulah Park. (08) 8332 2933
Have your indoor friends gone WILD? Are they trying to escape their pots?
A repot or an upsizing might be in order? We have you covered with a great range of pots which just landed!!!

South Australia's oldest established garden centre. Huge range. Expert staff on hand for personal advice. Visit online »

Semaphore Pets & Garden
Semaphore Pets and Garden
119 Semaphore Rd, Semaphore. (08) 8242 7302
We are all about organic this week.
We've got organic South Aussie-made fertilisers, pest spray, mulches and beneficial bug-attracters. See you soon!

Always a great selection of plants, pets and giftware – all under the one roof. Open 7 days.
Facebook »

Barrow & Bench
Barrow & Bench Mitre 10
321 Unley Rd, Malvern. (08) 8272 8566
There is nothing quite like poinsettia to let you know Christmas is on its way.   Pair them with a stylish pot and you have your festive season flowers sorted. In store now at Barrow & Bench Mitre10.
Specialising in providing quality plants and expert garden advice. Follow the Instagram feed »

Regular garden attractions

Check with each venue's web site for any Covid-19 restrictions on opening hours.

Adelaide Botanic Gardens – free guided walks

Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide guided walks for the public at Adelaide, Mount Lofty and Wittunga Botanic Gardens, and Botanic Park.
More information »

Carrick Hill

Heritage house museum and garden, the former home of Sir Edward and Lady Ursula Hayward. Open weekends & public holidays. Free admission into garden and grounds. 46 Carrick Hill Drive, Springfield.
More information »

Cummins Historic House and gardens
23 Sheoak Ave, Novar Gardens. Gardens open and plant sales on 1st & 3rd Sundays of each month (except Dec & Jan) 2 pm - 4.30 pm. Plant sales also available every Friday morning 9 am to noon. More information » Facebook »

Heysen - The Cedars
The historic home of two of Australia’s most noted artists, Sir Hans Heysen and his daughter Nora. This unique 60-hectare heritage estate features the original family home, two artists’ studios and the celebrated cottage-style garden, planted chiefly with exotics, including the massive Himalayan cedar trees.
Heysen Road, Hahndorf. Open 10 am - 4.30 pm, Tuesday to Sunday, and also open on public holiday Mondays. Ticketed entry, including guided tours at 11am and 2 pm.
More information »

Old Government House, Belair National Park
The former vice-regal summer residence of some of the early governors of South Australia.  An excellent example of Victorian architecture, set amongst one acre of magnificent gardens. Features cottage plants and flowers cultivated in Victorian times, heritage roses and mature trees.
Tours and  afternoon tea on the first and third Sundays each month and public holidays, 1 pm – 4.30 pm. Free entry into Belair National Park if you are visiting OGH - tell the info office staff as you drive in.
More information »

Urrbrae House historic precinct gardens
At the end of Walter Young Avenue, off Fullarton Road, Urrbrae, or from the Urrbrae House gate, Claremont Avenue, Netherby.
Open from dawn until dusk every day. Free entry.
More information »

Waite Arboretum, Fullarton Road, Urrbrae
Open free to the public every day of the year from dawn to dusk, except on fire ban days. Free guided walks on the first Sunday of every month, 11 am to 12.30 pm.
Meet at the West lawn (Croquet Lawn) of Urrbrae House. Bookings not necessary.
More information »

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Disclaimer: Although all reasonable care is taken in preparing information contained in this email, neither Jon Lamb Communications (JLC) nor its officers, staff or suppliers involved in the editing and production of this email accept any liability resulting from the interpretation or use of the information set out in this document. Information contained in this document is subject to change without notice and is of a general nature and should not take the place of professional personal advice. No responsibility is accepted by Jon Lamb Communications for the accuracy of information contained in web sites linked from this email. Publication of an advertisement does not constitute endorsement by JLC of any product or service, or warrant its suitability.
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