From Jon Lamb Communications
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September 17, 2021

Feeding the garden – you need a plan

If you haven’t fertilised your fruit trees since last spring, do it soon, particularly if you only do one application each year.
The fertiliser should be placed under the tree canopy, with the greatest concentration beneath the outer canopy or drip ring and watered in well.
Trees producing regular crops and watered through summer should receive a split – standard application i.e. 50% as soon as possible and the remainder early in autumn.
Trees producing very strong growth and little fruit should not be fertilised this spring, with half a standard application applied early in autumn.

Does the garden need feeding each spring? 

If your landscape comprises largely of trees and shrubs and they are suited to your garden soil, the answer is probably no. 
The proviso is that you allow the leaves and small branches that fall on the ground to remain there, where they can be broken down and returned to the soil.
If on the other hand you regularly remove branches or rake up the leaves and consign them to the green recycling bin, some form of fertilising is called for.
This reinforces one of the most basic rules of feeding the garden – ‘replace what you take away’. 
Removing plant material on a regular basis slowly depletes the soil’s natural reserves and the best way of replacing these is to use some form of slow acting fertiliser.
Where mature trees and shrubs are concerned mulching each spring with quality compost is usually all that is needed.

Spring growth benefits from soil and plant stimulants

The quickest way to activate cold-tolerant plants that are starting to produce new spring growth is to stimulate root growth with one of the many new soil and plant stimulants.
Stimulants are made from seaweed, fishmeal, liquid compost or worm juice (liquid from worm farms).
These contain important plant growth hormones as well as a range of elements to stimulate hordes of natural microbes in the soil. 
Their role is to help convert fertilisers and other soil nutrients into a form that the plants can use. 
These products are stimulants and not a substitute for normal plant fertilisers.
A single application is all that is needed for garden grown plants. 
However, plants in containers, including hanging baskets, will benefit from two or three fortnightly applications.

Repotting – it’s time  

Don’t wait until you see roots poking through drainage holes before repotting your favourite container plants.
Ferns, ficus and other vigorous courtyard favourites, particularly those used for topiary specimens, are likely to become quite root bound if the container is small and they are not repotted every twelve months or so. 
The trouble is any problems caused by plants becoming root bound happens out of sight – within the container – it is very easy to overlook what is happening.
The first hint is likely to be slower than normal growth, next the leaves will lose their dark green colour and they will also wilt much sooner than normal after watering.

Problem easily solved

Take the plant out of its container and prune off any roots circling around the root-ball.
Carefully slice 1 cm from around the root-ball and 2 cm from the base.
It can then be replaced into the same container or moved into a container slightly larger.
Place enough new moist potting mix into the container to re-establish the original root ball at the same height as it was before you began the operation.

Garden topsoil temperature update

Adelaide topsoil temperatures are currently 1°C below their September average.
Yesterday the temperature at 10 cm was 12°C and at 20 cm 13°C.
Weather models indicate temperatures are likely to remain mostly in the mid to high teens until the end of the month.
HydroGarden Elite

Growing fresh food indoors now possible

Growing your own fresh food sustainably indoors is now very easy.
All you need is a small bench space in a reasonably lit room and a ready to grow indoor hydroponics kit.
To get you growing, Mr Fothergill’s has just expanded its range of indoor hydroponic kits with HydroGarden Elite.
This is a small indoor kit with its own automated lighting system that provides ideal growing conditions for a wide range of vegetables, herbs and ornamental plants.
These do-it-yourself kits have their own built-in watering and fertilising systems and a full spectrum Grow Light.
The HydroGarden Elite model  also introduces specially designed HydroSoil Pods to aid seed germination and sustained plant growth.
Mr Fothergill’s believes there is a rapidly growing demand for indoor fresh food hydroponic systems that are easy to use and  maintain and most important – look very attractive.

More information and online ordering »
Mr Fothergill'sMr Fothergill's offers a huge range of packet seeds plus garden gifts, kits and propagation products, tested for Australian conditions, to inspire the home gardener.
Full range here »

Citrus gall wasp emergence update

Adelaide gardeners can expect this season’s first wave of citrus gall wasps to begin emerging during the third week of October.
This is almost one week earlier than last spring.
The date is based on average weather conditions and may change during October.
This information is based on data provided by the National Citrus Gall Wasp Management Program.
Citrus growers wanting to control CGW using pruning to remove galls or by smearing the galls with horticultural glue need to have these tasks completed by early October.
Latest emergence dates and information about controlling the wasps after emergence but before they lay eggs using kaolin clay or horticultural oil will be published in Good Gardening during early October.
VIDEO : How to mulch your roses »

How to succeed when growing roses

A new season is on its way and in most gardens established roses are looking good.
But if you have just planted new roses in your garden, Brian Wagner from Wagner’s Rose Nursery has some handy hints and videos to get them through the seasons ahead.

What do roses like?

Soil pH: A soil not too acidic and not too basic. PH 6.5 is ideal. It’s what we have at our Kalangadoo Nursery.

Mulch: Spread it around your plants to retain moisture. But only when the bush is established and has a canopy of leaves.  VIDEO »

Water: Apply deeply and often in summer. (Always 24-hours before very hot day).
Depending on soil type and temperature water twice a week if it’s hot and windy, or every 10 days in normal conditions. VIDEO »

Fertiliser: Use a little and often (between 2 and 4 weeks) alternating different kinds of products. Liquid fish and kelp-based products used together produce excellent results.

Pruning: Prune lightly or deadhead after each flush to encourage a quicker re-flowering. VIDEO »

Roses don’t like

  • a light and quick watering even if applied every day – it doesn’t reach their roots
  • competition around their roots (trees and other plants)
  • compact and hard ground
  • Glyphosate used around them. Even spray drift can kill a rose
Wagners Rose Nursery
One of the largest and longest-running
rose nurseries in Australia »
Feature plantsof the week

Basil Emerald Towers a hardy sun-lover

Wow! A tower of basil leaves on a plant that you can harvest continually all season long.
Basil Emerald Towers produces an attractive tall column of genuine basil tasting leaves. (40 -50 cm X 20-30cm)
The bush has very short branches forming an upright tower of leaves that can be harvested continually throughout the season.
It also has an ability to continue producing leaves for 10 to 12 weeks longer than standard basils.
The leaves are dark green and glossy and as the bush grows it retains its tidy column-like shape.
This is a great sun loving plant for growing in a container or raised garden bed.
Basil Emerald Towers is produced in South Australia by Living Colour Plant Nursery and will be available at most garden centres.

Living ColourBasil Emerald Towers 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.

Petunia Pink Diamond

For a stunning effect in the garden try growing Petunia Pink Diamond.
Pink Diamond produces masses of blooms that are both double and very large, while their dark pink petals are edged in bright white.
When established, the flowers sit neatly on a carpet of green leaves with new blooms continually covering old flowers as they fade.
This is a great plant for making a statement when grown in a hanging basket or a feature container and they certainly look quite stunning when mass planted.
Pink Diamond enjoys full sun and responds quickly to regular watering and fertilising during the warmer months.

Petunia Pink Diamond 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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Try growing your plants from seeds

Growing your own vegetables or flowers from seed is not difficult.  Apart from being less expensive than buying seedlings, you also have a much wider range of plants to select from.
Germinating seeds in spring is usually not a problem. In fact, you may be surprised at how quickly new plants emerge and begin to grow.

Getting started          

Start by using a quality seed raising mix. Don’t use garden soil as it is alive with seedling diseases.
Sow the seeds very thinly on the surface and either press them into the mix or cover very lightly with fine sand or sifted seed raising mix.


If possible, don’t water your germinating seeds from above. Apart from wetting the plants and making conditions ideal for damping off disease, it is likely to splash fungal spores from the surface of the mix onto the plants stems.
Simply half submerge your seed containers in a bucket of water and allow moisture to slowly soak through the mix.
After watering the container should be put inside a well-ventilated plastic bag and placed in a warm spot, but not in direct sun, until the seeds germinate.
As soon as seedlings emerge remove the plastic bags and place the containers where they receive bright light but are protected from wind and direct sun.

Moving on

As soon as the seedlings develop two sets of leaves, they should be moved or ‘pricked’ into individual containers. 
Use the rounded end of a knife to lift the small seedlings out of their container. 
Hold them by a leaf and avoid touching the main stem of the plant, as it is easily damaged at this stage.
Place the seedlings in a pot containing a free draining potting mix (not garden soil), press the mix firmly around its roots, water well and then find a suitable spot in the garden for them to develop. 
Under a shady tree or on a veranda that receives morning sun would be ideal.

You will find a wide range of home garden seeds, including Yates and Mr Fothergill’s, available from most garden centres.

Drip irrigation for your vegies

Drippers are designed to release water at slower rates than traditional methods and can be placed at the root zone, allowing for optimal watering of your vegies and reduced water wastage.
South Australian owned and operated Antelco are specialists in drip irrigation products designed to keep your vegetables happy and hydrated.
From adjustable flow drippers to fixed flow options, Antelco has a product to suit your vegies from seedling right through to maturity.
All quality products are designed and manufactured right here in South Australia.

More information »

It’s a good climate for popular ferns

Most of the popular ferns grown in South Australia are native and are quite used to hot, dry conditions during summer and autumn.
Most have a tough, shallow root system or network of rhizomes and in the “bush” these are usually covered with a thin layer of organic matter.
This helps retain moisture around their roots – while keeping them cool, during the warmer months.

Reasons why ferns often fail

Growing ferns in your own courtyard it is important to avoid the following:
  • Over or under watering
  • Strong or buffeting winds
  • Too much strong fertiliser


Most popular ferns are not waterholics.
Because of their surface roots, they don’t need large quantities of water – simply a little often – particularly during the warmer months.
On the other hand, it is just as important to not let the roots dry out in between watering.
During warm or windy weather, you may need to provide a small amount of water daily.

Citrus trees are on the move

Citrus trees in many gardens are starting to produce their early spring growth.
This is soft and sappy and very attractive to insect pests such as citrus leaf miner.
(Look for thin silvery trails in recently produced leaves).
To control leaf miner, and at the same time keep the trees looking good, spray both sides of affected leaves with Earthcare Enviro Pest Oil »

Remove weeds

Weeds growing underneath the tree's canopy should be removed as they compete with feeder roots for water and nutrients.
At the same time check the irrigation system can deliver a regular soaking when needed.

Balanced feeding

Apply a fertiliser such as Power feed with Troforte, for Flowers, Fruit and Citrus »
This is an organically enriched granular plant food, suitable for all citrus and fruiting plants.
It delivers a balance of slow and quick release nutrients to boost growth, stimulate bigger, brighter blooms and produce tasty fruit.
It also contains beneficial soil microbes to improve soil structure and nutrient uptake.

Dividing existing perennials

If you (or a friend) are already growing perennials and their roots are large enough, they can be dug and divided over the next few weeks.
  • Use a spade or garden fork to loosen the soil around and under the roots.
  • Lift the entire root clump and using secateurs cut the roots into chunky sections. Make sure each section has at least one and ideally more stems or crowns.
  • Plant the chunky sections into soil that has already been improved by incorporating compost and aged animal manure.
  • Water the new plants to settle their roots into the ground.
Lawn Care – Stefan Palm, Paul Munns

Laying instant turf – a DIY project

The ideal time for laying instant has arrived.
But right now finding a good turf laying tradie to carry out the task is not easy.
Lawn consultant Stefan Palm believes there is no reason why home gardeners shouldn’t carry out the task of laying out turf using their own resources.
Based on Stefan’s customer feedback, an increasing number of home gardeners are carrying out this task with considerable success.
In this week’s lawn blog Stefan provides some easy to follow guidelines along with a practical “how do you install instant turf” video.

More information »
Paul Munns Instant Lawn

A warm start for summer vegies

Experienced gardeners wanting to start growing summer vegetables while soil conditions remain cold have developed a number of practical ideas.
One strategy is to warm both the soil and plants by covering the ground with clear plastic and then covering the plants with plastic drink containers that have had the base removed.
Horticultural grade plastic is available from most hardware stores (sold by the metre) and when spread over a raised bed it can raise soil temperatures by 2° to 4°C over a two week period. 
Use bricks or timber to keep the plastic in close contact with the soil.

Add plastic bottles

Two litre container bottles are ideal for covering most seedlings. 
Use a serrated bread knife or scissors to remove the base and also remove the screw top cap to allow ventilation. 
It is a good idea to allow the soil to warm up (under plastic) for a week before planting out the seedlings.

Measuring soil temperatures         

If you are a keen gardener you may care to invest in a steel tipped soil thermometer (available from larger garden outlets).
Traditional glass tipped thermometers are suitable, but take care as the tips are easily broken.

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, September 18
Plant sale, St Peters Lutheran Church
521 MainNorth Road, Elizabeth (corner Wishford and Main North). More than 2,000 home-grown plants, most at $1 to $4, cash only.

Sunday, September 19
Urrbrae Wetland open day
Enjoy and learn as you stroll around this peaceful gem just off Cross Road. Short walking tracks supported by volunteers and informative notes. Special children’s activities run by Urrbrae students. 1.30 pm to 4 pm. Free entry. More information »

Sunday, September 19
Unley Gardeners Plant Rescue sale
Rear of the Fullarton Park Community Centre (off Fisher Street),9.30am -11.30 am at the  A huge variety of plants for sale including agapanthus, bromeliads, begonias, clivia, orchids, spring bulbs, a variety of large and small shrubs, a wide  range of succulents and much more.
Proceeds of the Sale to Circle of Friends to Support Afghan Refugees.
More information »

Sunday, September 19
Gamble Cottage and Garden open
296 Main Road, Blackwood, cnr Dorham Road. 1 pm - 4 pm. The nursery is restocked with a variety of hardy, inexpensive plants for cash sales and the National Trust volunteers will  be offering a great afternoon tea by the cottage with an array of fresh, locally produced marmalades on offer.
More details »

Open GardensOpen Gardens SA

Sunday, September 19
Al Ru Farm
1016 One Tree Hill Road, One Tree Hill
Inspired by visits to gardens all over the world, Ruth Irving has used vision, her artistic eye and her talent as a plantswoman to transform 10 acres of Al Ru Farm grazing land into a charming country garden.  The salty bore irrigation makes plant choices a challenge, yet the garden is crammed with a large selection of plant species.
Please note opening SUNDAY only.

More information on the garden and directions »

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.

Garden centre manager and horticulturalist Brett Draper discusses what new plants and exciting products are now ready for inspection at your local garden centre.

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
Citrus are here!!! Lemon, lime and bitters.
We can’t quite help you with the bitters but we’ve got the lemon and lime covered!
Now is a great time to get your citrus in. See you this weekend!

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
Does anyone hear Jingle Bells?....hehehehe! Well believe it or not it's closer than you think. Let's focus on shopping locally, we have so many amazing Christmas gifts that have arrived early. 
We have everyone in the family covered and we even have lots of groovy gifts for Dad. So before you press the online button check out your locally family-owned garden centres – you'll be surprised at all the goodies you will find.

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
Plants and hot donuts – a match made in heaven. 
OMG Donuts will be at Barrow & Bench this Sunday 19 Oct between 10am-2pm. 
Feast your eyes and fill your tummy with all sorts of deliciousness.  GF, vegan and celiac accredited.   We can’t wait to see you
Specialising in providing quality plants and expert garden advice. Follow the Instagram feed »

Coming soon

Thursday to Saturday, September 23 - 25
Gawler and Districts Orchid Clubs spring show
Hollywood Shopping Plaza in Parafield Gardens. Trading table with mixed genera of orchids for sale
Open shopping centre hours, 7.30 am - 9 pm, Saturday 7.30 am - 5 pm.

Thursday to Sunday, September 23 - 26
South Coast Orchid Club of SA spring show
Seaford Central Shopping Centre, Commercial Rd, Seaford. Shopping centre hours. Trading table with a range of orchid plants for sale – cymbidiums, Australian natives, phalaenopsis. Fact sheets available.
Saturday, September 25
Orchid Club of SA spring show
Enfield Community Centre, 540 Regency Road, Enfield.
Plants, accessories  & potting demonstrations. Entry $5

Sunday, September 26
Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide plant sale
Chris Steele Scott Pavilion, Mt. Lofty Botanic Garden, just south of the lower carpark off Lampert Road, Piccadilly, 10.30 am - 2.30 pm.
Details of the plants available will be on the website »

Sunday, September 26
Stangate Garden open days
3 Edgeware Road, Aldgate. Open every fourth Sunday of the month.
September 26, 10 am – 4 pm (to coincide with Camellia Society open day); Sunday, 24 October 24, 10 am – 2 pm; Sunday, November 28, 10 am – 2 pm.
More information »

Saturday, October 9
Port Augusta Garden Club Show
A non-competitive exhibition by Garden Club members and friends, with native plants, flowers, produce on display. 10 am to 1 pm.  Port Augusta Garden Club, Elizabeth Terrace. Plant sales, raffle, sale of cakes and jams etc. Site of a magnificent mural painted by artist Joel Plevin. All welcome.

Saturday, October 9
SA Chrysanthemum Society annual plant sale
Goodwood Community Centre, 32-34 Rosa Street, Goodwood. 10 am - 2 pm.

Saturday, October 16
Spring Show, SA Geranium & Pelargonium Society
Western Youth Centre, 79 Marion Road, Cowandilla. 9.30 am - 4 pm.
More information »

Saturday & Sunday, October 16 & 17
Goyder Gardens - Burra & Beyond
Stallholders and presenters, workshops, food and music will be a feature in these open gardens, all within an hour's drive of Burra. This year will again focus on amazing diversity in often challenging environmental conditions.
More information »

Saturday & Sunday, October 16 & 17
Anlaby Open Garden
829 Anlaby Road, Hamilton (near Kapunda). With 10 acres to wander, you will be able to immerse yourself in history, Anlaby Station being the oldest Merino sheep studs on mainland Australia.
Web site »  |  Bookings »

Saturday & Sunday, October 23 & 24
Spring rose show, Rose Society of South Australia Inc
Garden Grove, 1150 Golden Grove Road, Golden Grove. Sat 11 am - 5 pm, Sun 9 am - 5pm.
More information »

Saturday & Sunday, October 23 & 24
Bromeliad Society spring  show and sales extravaganza
Maltese Cultural Centre, 6 Jeanes St, Beverley. Sat 9 am - 3pm), Sun 10 am - 3 pm. Free entry both days

Saturday, November 6
SA Plant Clubs' Open Day
Western Youth Centre, 79 Marion Rd, Cowandilla. Plant sales & supplies. African Violets, carnivorous, cottage garden, scculents, pelargoniums and geraniums. Covid-safe cafe and sausage sizzle. $2 entry.

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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