From Jon Lamb Communications
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January 17, 2020

Give watering priority this weekend

Spend a little time this weekend checking on moisture levels in different garden locations.
You may be surprised at how little soil moisture is left below the surface.
While the magic elixir both before and after a heatwave is water, to be of benefit moisture must soak well below the surface and, if possible, right through the plants' root zone.
  • lawns – 2 to 10 cm
  • leafy vegetables – 5 to 15 cm
  • tall vegetables and small shrubs – 5 to 20 cm
  • large shrubs – 5 to 30 cm.

The voice of experience

Experienced gardeners came through the recent heat with hardly a burnt leaf.
Some say it’s the way they water, emphasising the importance of watering before extreme heat arrives.
Others add moisture-holding compost to the soil before planting and moisture-retaining mulch once the plants are established.
However, a growing number of gardeners have also added “temporary shade” to their essential “heat beating” list, particular when it comes to growing vegetables, flowers, herbs, fruit trees and small ornamentals.
In this case the shade is not only reducing plant leaf temperatures, it is also playing a major role in shading plant roots.
This in turn prevents top soil temperatures from reaching critical levels that are damaging to the plants.
Feature plant

Begonias for exceptional colour and performance

Begonias are real winners, particularly if you are looking for a non-stop flowering annual that looks good either in the garden or featured in pots and hanging baskets.
Begonias are extremely hardy and in fact grow best when they are kept a little on the dry side.
However, they also happen to be one of the few annuals that will provide great colour in the shade.           
Easy Colour begonias with their glossy green or bronze leaves and attractive waxy blooms in shades of pink, rose, scarlet and white will provide exceptional colour and performance.
All Easy colour annuals are available in unique “pop out” cell packs and are already in flower.
They are very easy to recognise in their distinctive purple packs.
Easy Colour
Easy Colour begonias are in stock at good garden centres this weekend.

When planting is essential

A short spell of mild to warm weather with the possibility of some worthwhile showers late next week may encourage gardeners to carry out some essential planting.
While late January is not an ideal time to establish new plants, it is possible
– providing you carry out a number of protective measures.
  • Time the operation to coincide with a forecast spell (5 to 7 days) of mild to warm weather.
  • Soak the planting area thoroughly the day before planting.
  • Reduce heat stress by spraying leaves with an anti-transpirant product, such as Drought Shield (available from most garden centres).
  • Be prepared to protect new plants when temperatures start to spike again – most likely late this month.
Double impatiens

New-look double impatiens with rose-like flowers

When it comes to growing masses of garden colour in the shade, nothing beats Impatiens Double Bonita.
The double rose like flowers on Double Bonita add a new dimension to growing this garden mainstay and gives gardeners something truly different to work with when planning shaded garden beds.
Impatiens Double Bonita also has increased plant vigour, a mounded habit and produces tons of flowers through the growing season.
Growing to a height and width of 25 to 30 cm, Impatiens Double Bonita looks stunning when grown en mass or used as a bedding plant.
It is certainly a good selection when planted in outdoor containers and hanging baskets.
This is a fast-growing annual that grows best in partial to full shade, where soil conditions are evenly moist.
Impatiens Double Bonita will be featured this week at all good garden centres.

The value of anti-transpirants when the heat hits

Anti-transpirant products allow plants to continue breathing while reducing their rate of transpiration (essential to keep the plants cool)
These products are very effective in protecting seedlings and small plants.
Cosmos Choca Mocha

Cosmos Choca Mocha

If you have a sunny garden and like growing easy care perennials that always look neat and tidy but a little unusual, consider Cosmos Choca Mocha.
Often called the chocolate cosmos because of its very distinctive chocolate aroma, Choca Mocha produces masses of star-like reddish- black blooms from spring through to late autumn.
The plants are multi-branching and only grow to 30 cm in height.
This makes them ideal for mass planting in a sunny garden bed or growing in a large but low container. Being perennial the plants will die down towards the end of autumn but suddenly reappear as temperatures begin to rise in September.
Proven Winners
Cosmos Choca Mocha are available from good garden centres.

Delay trim time on topiary

Topiary and ornamental plants are currently making vigorous growth in many gardens.
Now is not the time to grab your secateurs and administer a “short back and sides”.
Hard pruning in the middle of summer will produce soft new growth that is likely to be burnt next time temperatures climb into the 40s.
If the plants are looking a little untidy, remove the tip growth only.
This will help reduce plant vigour without stimulating strong new growth.

Don’t overfeed citrus

If the new leaves on your citrus trees are starting to curl on the edges and on inspection there are fine silvery lines running through them, it’s likely the damage is being caused by citrus leaf miner.
It also means you have probably been heavy handed with the fertiliser.
Citrus leaf miner is usually only a problem when the trees have been overstimulated with too much nitrogen fertiliser.
Removing affected leaves is usually the only action needed early in the season.

How to improve hydrophobic soil

Now that summer has arrived, here’s a surprising reason why you should consider using organic fertilisers in your garden.
Most gardeners are aware that organic fertilisers stimulate soil microbes, which in turn help your plants, however you may not realise that when you use an organic fertiliser, it actually helps soil to overcome water repellence issues, and now that we’re heading into the hottest part of the year, it’s the most crucial time for getting the best out of this precious resource.
The inability of soils to take up water is really down to the waxy coating on soil particles.
These waxes come from either soil microbes or plant material which hasn’t broken down completely (Eucalyptus leaves are a great example).
When conditions become unfavourable, microbes secrete compounds which make the soil water repellent.
For sandy soils, only about 2-4 % of the particles need to be coated for water to be repelled, and for clay soil it’s about 10%.
So what can you do to make your soil more readily take up or absorb water?

More information »

Good time for growing lettuce

The trick with summer lettuce is to grow them fast. 
Again the magic elixir is water but this should be supplemented with a fortnightly application of a liquid organic fertiliser.
If possible, grow your plants under 50 percent shade cloth, the plants will thrive and you will certainly improve the eating quality of the leaves you harvest.
Lettuce grows readily from seed at this time of the year.
However, if you are transplanting seedlings you can reduce heat stress considerably by spraying the plants with Drought Shield and adding Seasol when you water.

Select these summer herbs

Basil, chives, parsley, oregano, coriander and rocket are just some of the herbs that will grow readily in a shaded but well lit location in your garden at this time of the year.
Look for healthy well-established plants in small 8-12cm diameter containers. 
All you have to do is re-pot your selections into slightly larger containers. 
As a general rule, the smaller the container the more often you have to water the plants. 
In most cases it's best to re-pot individual plants into separate containers.  Something 20 to 25 cm in diameter is ideal.
Lawn Care – Stefan Palm
Sandy loam

Is it the right sandy loam for your lawn?

So, your thinking of establishing a new lawn, the existing soil may not be suitable and you have been advised to bring in some “sandy loam”.
SA turf advisor Stefan Palm believes the soil you use for a new lawn and how it is prepared is by far the most important step in establishing instant turf.
In this week’s lawn blog Stefan looks at whether you really need to bring in new soil and comments on the types of sandy loam available for home gardeners.
You will also find a link to sound advice on preparing the soil ready for instant turf.
More information »
Paul Munns Instant Lawn

Soil wetters at work              

If you are continually frustrated when the water you apply to hanging baskets and container plants runs down the sides of the container rather than soaking into the root ball, treat the plants to an application of soil wetting liquid or granules. 
Both work well. 
Soil wetters have an amazing ability to make the water soak into the root zone rather than run over it.

New plum with natural health benefits

Imagine picking and eating juicy red plums, crammed with natural antioxidants and potential health benefits, straight from a tree growing in your own backyard.
It is now possible thanks to the just released a-okay Plum™.
The a-okay Plum is a prolific cropper, producing large numbers of delicious dark skinned plums with blood red flesh.
New growth is an attractive burgundy colour and this is maintained throughout the growing season.
The a-okay plum is an ideal fruit tree to grow in a sunny location.
Like all plum varieties it is very hardy and has excellent tolerance to heat.
However, it will need another plum variety for good pollination and newly established trees will require regular watering.
The a-okay Plum is being distributed in South Australia by Balhannah Nurseries and most garden outlets should have supplies before the end of the month.
Look for potted plants (both traditional and dwarf size) in Balhannah’s distinctive green grow bags.

You will find a lot more health benefits and research information here »

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 – phone me and Deb Tribe on 1300 222 891 and have your own gardening question answered.

More on beating the heat. This time garden trees, shrubs and fruits that will thrive in our changing climate. 
Guests include Rick Moran, horticulturalist and recognised authority on ornamental trees and shrubs, Sam Luke,  fruit tree manager, Balhannah Nursery.
Weekend gardening weather

Coming soon

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

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 »

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 »

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 »

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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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