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From Jon Lamb Communications
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January 31, 2020

Expect a quick response to the rain

Soaking rains in the middle of summer while soil conditions are warm is like liquid gold.
If the forecasts are correct and we end up with 20 mm or more, home gardeners could be in for a bonanza.
Plant response to the rain will be quick, with fresh new growth on lawns, roses and summer-active ornamentals.
But if conditions remain showery and warm, fungal spots and rots will cause major problems on vegetables, maturing fruit crops and many ornamentals.
 

Lawns – take care with fertiliser

While lawn response will be rapid, don’t be too quick and, in particular, heavy-handed in applying fertiliser.
If the lawn grass is already dark green and growing vigorously do nothing.
Fertilising now will only produce excess lawn clippings.
On the other hand, lawns that look stressed with pale green grass and bare patches will benefit from a small application of an organic lawn fertiliser.
These are slow acting and less likely to overstimulate the grasses.
 

Beware of spots and rots

If conditions remain warm and moist, keep a close watch on your vegetable crops and ornamentals for spots and rots caused by damaging fungal diseases, particularly:
  • Black spot on roses:  Very likely if the weather remains showery.
  • Powdery mildew on vegetables and vines: More likely if the weather becomes humid but remains dry.
Both diseases can be controlled by applying a protective spray such as eco-fungicide.
 

Don’t waste the free water

While 20 mm of rain will wet the topsoil, be aware it will disappear very rapidly.
The simple act of covering the topsoil with a layer of organic mulch can reduce evaporation rates by 30 to 50 percent.
 

How much mulch?    

Mulches do not need to be thick to be effective. 
In fact, very thick mulch can be counter-productive as it is will soak up much of the moisture from light showers before it reaches the soil. 
As a guide, spread:
  • Chunky bark 5-8 cm thick
  • Chopped tree trimmings 4-6 cm
  • Soft processed materials 2-3 cm.
DEFINITELY NOT MIGHTY RED
The label may say Mighty Red tomato, but that's certainly not what's growing on the bushes planted back in September by Walkerville gardener Brenton Wilhhelm.
Brenton believes it's time we spoke to the nursery industry about ensuring proper labelling and vegetable seedlings being true to type.

Tomatoes – did you get what you asked for?

Are the tomato varieties you are growing (or grew) in your garden this season – what you paid for?
If feedback to ABC Radio TalkBack Gardening is any guide, maybe not.
During last Saturday morning's program, tomato-growing listeners expressed considerable disappointment (both on air and via text) that the variety of tomatoes growing on their bushes were not the varieties stated on the label.
The garden industry believes this is not a major problem.
But we would like to make sure – and we would like your help.
If you are growing (or grew) tomatoes this season, your participation in next week’s short Good Gardening Newsletter online survey would certainly be appreciated.
A link to the online form will be published next week.
Results will be published in the newsletter, with the main issues highlighted on ABC TalkBack Gardening.
Feature plant

African marigolds – perfect summer performers

African marigolds are often described as the perfect bedding plant.
Each plant covers itself with masses of buds that open to produce magnificent uniform round blooms that are held on sturdy stems.
The leaves are bright green with attractive fernlike appearance.
African marigolds selected for growing in Easy Colour 4 Paks are great summer performers.
They have excellent tolerance to both heat and dry conditions, but respond quickly given a little extra attention.
Easy Pak containers in their distinctive purple colour and easy care handles are bigger than traditional punnets and the plants are more advanced, significantly reducing the likelihood of transplant shock.
Easy Colour

African Marigolds are available at good garden centres.

codling mothMajor flight of codling moths expected

Keep a close watch on apple and pear crops in your garden as overnight temperatures this week have been ideal for a flight of “egg-laying” codling moths.
The eggs they lay will hatch quickly and 6 to 10 days later the resulting grubs will begin burrowing into the flesh of apples and pears.
For effective control consider spraying your trees ASAP with the low-toxic insecticide, Success Ultra.

Look what they've done to Daisy May

If you like growing daisies you will love Daisy May.
Daisy May is a much improved Shasta daisy (leucanthemum). The blooms are extremely large, with vibrant white petals and a distinctive yellow centre.
These are held on strong stems well above the foliage.
As the flowering progresses new buds appear from the stems below the original blooms, resulting in plants that are extremely long flowering.
In South Australia you can expect blooms nearly all year round.
These are ideal plants to grow in a sunny mixed border or simply as a cut flower.
They have excellent tolerance to heat and, once established and mulched, need little additional attention.
Proven Winners
More information »
Daisy May are available from good garden centres.

Fertiliser check for pot plants

Check the label of your favourite pot plant fertiliser.
Most products contain plenty of nitrogen but what about potash and superphosphate, not to mention the many trace elements needed for healthy plant growth? 
An application of a complete fertiliser (liquid or control release) at this time of the year could do wonders – but don’t overdo it.
Lawn Care – Stefan Palm
Lawn scarifying

Sacrify when lawns become thick and spongy

Couch and kikuyu are ideal lawn grasses to grow in South Australia’s hot, dry climate.
But after a while these grasses tend to produce a thick stand and then become quite spongy.
If you do nothing the stand becomes thicker and spongier.
The answer to this problem according to turf advisor Stefan Palm is to remove much of the sponginess by carrying out a process known as scarification.
In this week’s lawn blog Stefan explains what happens when you scarify a lawn and how the process is carried out.
More information »
Paul Munns Instant Lawn

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.

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.

Guests
Darren Ray, independent consulting climatologist. The three-month weather outlook for home gardeners.
Joe Keilenowski, Joe's Connected Garden. Managing fruit trees in containers.
Weekend gardening weather

Coming soon


Saturday & Sunday, April 4 & 5
National Rose Trial Garden ‘People’s Choice Rose Judging’ weekend
Cast your vote for your favourite roses and view those new roses most likely to be released in the coming seasons.  In the Adelaide Botanic Garden, near the Hackney Road entrance, 10 am - 4 pm both days. More information »

Barossa Rose & Flower Show
Competition and displays for roses, dahlias, cut flowers, floral art and children’s section.
BBQ and other refreshments available. Free entry. Sat 12 noon - 5.30 pm, Sun 9 am - 5 pm. Barossa Nursery, Barossa Valley Way, Nuriootpa. email for more information »

Cactus and Succulent Society of SA Autumn Show and Sale
Purchase plants from 26 different growers/sellers, books and other gardening craft. Advice on growing cactus and succulents, water-wise planting advice.
Payneham Library and Community Centre, corner of Turner Street and O.G. Road, Felixstow. 10 am - 4 pm both days. Admission $3
More information »

Saturday April 18
Fern Society of SA annual sale
9 am - 2pm, Adelaide High School, West Tce, Adelaide.

Saturday & Sunday, April 18 &19
Autumn Rose Show, Rose Society of South Australia
Burnside Community Centre, cnr Portrush and Greenhill Roads, Tusmore. Sat 12 noon - 5 pm, Sun10 am - 4 pm. More information »

Regular events
Woodville Academy of Floral Design
Meeting alternate Wednesdays at Kilkenny Community Centre, corner Wilpena Tce & Tarcowie St, Kilkenny. Visitors welcome. Details »

Regular garden attractions

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 »

The 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 »

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 »

Heysen - The Cedars
The historic home of one of Australia’s most noted landscape artists, Sir Hans Heysen and his artist daughter Nora. A unique 60-hectare heritage property with the original house, studio and garden, planted  chiefly with exotics, including the massive Himalayan cedar trees. 10 am - 4.30 pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Ticketed entry. Also open on public holiday Mondays. Heysen Road, Hahndorf.
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 »

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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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