From Jon Lamb Communications
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March 20, 2020

Late summer crops looking good

Gardeners who acted quickly and established late summer crops early in February when the hot weather suddenly disappeared are about to be rewarded.
Tomato, cucumber and zucchini crops along with lettuce, silver beet and broccoli are producing strong, vigorous growth and have the potential to produce excellent crops through late autumn and early winter.
On the other hand, in many gardens early summer vegetable crops are now fading fast.
In these gardens it is time to remove spent plants, reinvigorate the soil by incorporating generous quantities of quality compost, and start planting out winter and spring-maturing crops
When removing spent vegetable plants, take as much of their main roots as possible as this will help reduce the potential carryover of disease.

Colourful sapsuckers causing concern

Don’t be surprised if you find large, colourful, beetle-like insects sitting on bushes in your garden.
These are not beetles but sap-sucking bugs.
At this time of the year they are probably Harlequin bugs (black head and legs with bright red and orange marking on the back) or Crusader bugs (usually brown with a distinctive yellow X-shaped cross).
Both can be very damaging but they are also very sporadic in their habit. In spring the adults lay eggs with the resulting insects living and hiding in weeds.
As the weeds dry out during summer the insects often invade gardens and often they cause little or no damage.
If spraying on ornamentals is warranted you will find systemic insecticides containing imidacloprid are effective. It is sold as Bayer Confidor (still available in many outlets), Sharp Shooter and others.
You can also use organic eco Neem.

Tomato survey highlights effect of extreme heat

The effects of South Australia’s extreme summer heat are already showing up in this year’s Good Gardening end-of-season tomato survey.
Almost 87 percent of those who indicated they had a poor or disappointing crop rated the effect of heat is either moderate or severe.
This compares with a 54 percent rating for those who had an excellent or good crop.
On the brighter side, almost 60 percent of those who have already completed the survey rated the season as either excellent or good.

Last chance for your tomato season feedback

If you grew tomatoes this season and would like to provide valuable feedback on your success or otherwise, you will need to complete our online survey before next Wednesday, March 25.
The results and comments you provide will be published in the Good Gardening newsletter on Friday,  April 3 and summarised on ABC radio Adelaide’s Saturday TalkBack Gardening.

You can complete the online survey here »
Feature plant

Shabby Chic – outstanding for autumn gardens

As a Garden “Mum” (chrysanthemum) the flowers that literally cover Shabby Chic are truly remarkable.
Masses of dense blooms make the whole plant appear to be one big flower.
The infused pink petals blend from soft tones to more vibrant shades, creating an overall blushing effect. Each flower has a buttercup yellow centre.
Garden Mum Shabby Chic plants have a tight mounding habit (30 to 60 cm high) and are perfect for growing in a sunny mixed garden bed or border.
They also look stunning in pots on their own or in the centre of a mixed container. This is an ideal plant to give as a gift.
A royalty of $0.20 per label is collected and the money is donated to the National breast Cancer foundation.

Garden Mum Shabby Chic is available at all garden centres now.

Two top-performing Federation daisies

Early autumn is a great time to add colourful, long-flowering, easy-care Federation daisies (Argyranthemums) to your garden collection.
The single white flowers on Elite Moonlight are bright and pure with a yellow centre, while single flowers on Elite Sunlight are vibrant yellow with a yellow centre.
The plants have bushy deep green foliage which branch out, forming an upright mound 80 to 100cm and making them perfect for pots or to create an informal hedge.
Both will perform best in full sun to part shade and will be covered in flowers from March until November.
The plants should be trimmed to shape once flowering has finished and fertilised each season to boost flowering and new growth.

More information on Federation daisies »

Elite series
Elite Moonlight and Sunlight are available at good garden centres.

How to buy the best bulbs

During early autumn most garden centres offer a wide range of bulbs in small packs of three to 10.
Look for bulbs that are large for their type, firm and free from any signs of fungal diseases on their skin.
While most spring-flowering bulbs are very easy to grow, they won’t tolerate wet feet caused by over-watering or poor drainage
More on growing bulbs in my Advertiser garden column, tomorrow.

Historic Heynes garden centre now online

Heynes, Adelaide’s oldest garden centre, is one of the first garden retailers in South Australia to provide a comprehensive gardening service online.
Gardeners will be able to buy a full range of plants and garden products online, receive free gardening advice, take part in exclusive promotional offers and receive invitations to special garden-related events and workshops.
According to garden centre manager, Michael Heyne, the family story that began in 1869 continues today.
"While the existing garden centre, established in 1928 remains in its original location – on The Parade at Beulah Park – and operates as a traditional garden centre, it’s time to provide the public the many benefits that are now available through a diverse online service," Michael says.

Visit the Heynes site »

Tulips need chilling

Most spring-flowering bulbs can be planted directly from packet to soil.
However, tulips and hyacinths will benefit from a 4 to 6 week rest in the crisper section of your refrigerator before planting.
This stimulates the bulbs to produce quick growth soon after they are planted.
Irrigation Guide

Don’t overlook the need to water

Don’t be surprised if sections of the garden where plants are growing close together need watering this weekend.
Pay particular attention to vegetables, herbs, flowers, small shrubs and lawns.
These plants have most of their moisture-gathering roots fairly close to the surface.
If they are to produce a worthwhile harvest or display, it is important that they are watered well before the plants suffer moisture stress.

Choosing the right dripper for your garden

Antelco has a range of drippers to suit many, diverse applications.
There are adjustable, fixed and pressure-compensating types with different flow rates which can be matched to suit your garden.
Features are available such as cleanable, anchored (spikes), suitable for low pressure (tanks), self- cleaning and insect baffles.
Antelco has produced a table which demonstrates the applicable applications and features for their dripper range.
Download the guide »
More information »
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Root vegetables and bulbs need phosphorus

If you are an organic gardener and rely mainly on animal manures to grow your vegetables and bulbs, keep in mind these provide a very good source of slow release nitrogen and sometimes potash.
But they lack phosphorus.
This element is critical for early plant growth and, in particular, the development of strong, healthy roots.
The problem is easily rectified by incorporating superphosphate (50 to 100 g/m²) into the top 10 to 15 cm of the planting area.
Lawn Care – Stefan Palm

When to apply autumn lawn fertiliser

As the days become shorter and nights cooler traditional summer active lawns (couch, buffalo and kikuyu) change from producing rapid leaf growth to a new and critical phase where they increase considerably the number of new rhizomes they develop.
In essence the more rhizomes you have on each plant the thicker the lawn.
But don’t be in a hurry to apply fertiliser.
A heavy application now is likely to produce heaps of grass but at the expense of rhizomes.
If the lawn is making active growth but the grass looks a little pale, consider applying a very light application of nitrogen.
The best time to apply your main autumn fertiliser is following mid autumn rains.
However, if we haven’t received significant rain before then, make sure the soil is moist before you apply your fertiliser.
Apply enough water to soak well into the topsoil after applying.

More information »
Paul Munns Instant Lawn

Correct watering essential for maidenhair ferns

Sadly, many home grown maidenhair ferns die through overwatering; very few die of thirst. 
The secret is to keep the soil moist but not soggy wet at all times. 
These ferns also need full shade but bright light as well as protection from warm or drying wind.

Begonia a big hit

For outstanding non-stop colour in the shade consider Begonia Big.
This is an easy-to-grow, soft-stemmed perennial that features large, showy, waxy flowers in shades of red and pink.
These are produced in non-stop waves from early spring through to late in autumn.
Given good light and kept on the dry side, Begonia Big will also flower (in Adelaide) through winter.

Time to refresh indoor plants

Early autumn is a good time to refresh and reinvigorate indoor plants.
Use the “finger test” and only water when the surface of the soil feels dry to touch.
Refresh with a quick shower to remove any dust and keep the leaves looking green and glossy.
Repot tired looking plants by removing any old brown leaves, getting rid of old potting mix and trimming off dead or damaged roots.
Then repot (into a larger container if need be) using a good quality potting mix.
Indoor plants can also be boosted with PowerFeed Indoor & Potted Plants.
This is an easy to use 1.25 litre trigger pack  and contains  ready-to-use liquid fertiliser and soil conditioner, designed specifically  for indoor and potted plants.
This promotes strong, healthy growth, vigorous flowering, improves leaf and flower colour. 
It also helps plants cope with all kinds of stress such as heat, drought, frost, pest and disease. No mixing required, just spray it onto the soil.

More information »

Be creative when planting annuals

Annuals don’t have to be planted in endless rows to create a spectacular effect.
Consider planting half a dozen seedlings close together in groups around the garden.
Look for gaps between shrubs that received 4 to 6 hours of sun during the day.
If you work away from home, consider a  small planting just inside the front gate. This way you will have a small splash of colour to brighten your day as you leave in the morning for work.
Improve the soil before planting by incorporating quality compost and a small quantity of complete fertiliser.

A good time to take cuttings

Now is an ideal time to take semi/hardwood cuttings from woody shrubs such as fuchsias, camellias, hibiscus, hydrangeas, grevillea and correas, as well as soft-stemmed plants including coleus, begonias and geraniums.

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 gardening advice please give me a call on ABC Radio Adelaide's Saturday morning Talkback Gardening  or speak to the experts at your local garden centre.

Garden events and shows cancelled

The COVID-19 situation has forced the cancellation of numerous garden events and shows.
All current and coming events listed in recent editions of Good Gardening have been cancelled.
Weekend gardening weather

Talkback Gardening tomorrow

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

James Smith from FauNature discusses the effects of this summer's extreme heat on wildlife and small critters normally found in SA gardens.

Regular garden attractions

Good Gardening readers should assume that listed regular garden attractions are now closed due to the COVID-19 situation.
If you are in any doubt, check with the individual organisation.

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 »

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, 1pm and 3pm.
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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