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From Jon Lamb Communications
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January 29, 2021

What a difference a rain makes

For gardeners, soaking rain at this time of the year is like liquid gold.
Right now the combination of warm summer soil and moisture is just what is needed to stimulate garden plants into strong healthy growth.
For those who received last week’s soaking rain, the scene is set for a plant growing bonanza.
Newly established vegetable crops should grow and mature faster and produce better crops than those established early in spring – providing of course they are mulched, watered regularly and, if needed, provided with temporary shading.
 

Keep a close watch on the seven-day forecast

Time your planting to coincide with a period when maximum temperatures will remain below 32°C for at least four days (ideally seven).
 

Vegetables for a late harvest

In the vegetable garden, give priority to planting tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis and other quick-maturing summer vegetables.
But hurry – and be choosey.
Select well advanced seedlings and be prepared to protect your prize plants from a sudden burst of heat.
Healthy tomato seedlings established soon on the Adelaide Plains and warmer districts should be bearing fruit by late March or early April.
Those planted in full sun should continue cropping into early June.

Cucumbers and zucchini are still not setting

It’s been a variable season for growing cucumbers and zucchini, with many gardeners still concerned that their plants are not setting many fruits.
In most cases fruit set is closely related to pollination:
  • It takes six to 12 bee visits to a female flower to achieve best fruit set.
  • Pollen grains are large and sticky – ideally suited for bee pollination (pollen is too heavy to be carried by wind).
  • In the absence of bees, self pollination can achieve reasonable fruit set.
  • Harvesting the fruits as soon as they are mature will stimulate the plants to produce more female flowers.
  • Allowing fruits to over-ripen on the vine will reduce the ability of the plants to produce new flowers.
  • Native bees are more effective in pollinating cucumbers and zucchinis than honey bees.
Feature plantsof the week
Lavender Ice

Two top new roses now available

Rose bushes should respond rapidly to this week’s widespread rains.
For many gardeners it is just the stimulus they need to start planning and pre-ordering roses for the coming planting season.
These two top bush roses, released last season are now available for pre-ordering on Knights Roses website.

Lavender Ice
This is a compact floribunda rose with large, very full flowers and excellent weather resistance.
The silvery-lilac flowers are carried in small clusters, on stout, short stems. Flower colour is stable while the blooms have a light spicy fragrance.
An ideal subject for growing in containers, as well as in garden beds or borders.

Manuel Canovas
An excellent shrub rose with loads of character and energy.
Beautiful flowers are produced on vigorous stems and framed by robust foliage. The fragrance is delightful, making this a great garden rose. Height 1.5m.
Knight's Roses
Knights' Roses, one of the largest rose growers and suppliers in Australia, offer a comprehensive collection of rose bushes to both wholesalers and the public. 44 Jack Cooper Drive, Gawler, SA. Phone (08) 8523 1311.
Manuel Canovas

Diamond Dazzler

If you would like a small, compact, hardy plant that really does smother itself with pure white double flowers all year round – take a close look at Euphorbia Diamond Dazzler.
Diamond Dazzler is a great plant if you are new to gardening or time for plant care is limited.
Once established, the plants are almost indestructible, recovering quickly if neglected and they also have excellent tolerance to drought.
On the other hand Diamond Dazzler is a great display plant, both in courtyards and larger gardens, as their pure white blooms contrast so well with other plants in the garden.
Diamond Dazzler will grow 25 to 30 cm wide and is happy to grow in a container or garden bed.

Proven WinnersDiamond Dazzlers 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.
ABC Talkback Gardening listener Michelle made a beautiful garden mobile out of all the oysters consumed over Christmas to keep the rainbow lorikeets away from her apples. Sounds magical.

Beating birds with bad habits

Fruit eating birds are creatures of habit.  Once their forward scouts discover your fruit is close to maturity, your chance of repelling the hordes that will follow, is rather slim. 
On the other hand, if you can prove to the scout birds your fruit is unpalatable, or the surrounding areas are hostile or frightening, and this information is relayed back to the “hungry hordes” the likelihood of you harvesting fruit is quite good.
Try hanging objects that glitter or move in the wind in your target trees.
But these must be moved regularly and should be in place well before the fruit ripens
Our thanks to last Saturday's ABC Talkback Gardening listeners for these “Beat the Birds” ideas.
Jacqui @ West Croydon sent the ABC this photo of a plum on a tree inside a clear plastic container,  tied with string to contain the fruit. It is one of the soft plastic containers that supermarkets use for biscuits, cakes etc.

Big potential for locally-grown bananas

Bananas could and should be more widely grown, particularly in our warmer districts. 
Experienced gardeners will tell you they will grow in most SA soils, providing the drainage is good and the growing area contains plenty of added organic matter.
However, the plants must be protected from frost and strong (particularly cold) winds.   
During the warmer months, they will also need regular watering.
Growth is usually quite rapid and it should only take 18 months for the plants to produce fruit. 
The bunches are cut before they are fully mature and allowed to after-ripen in a protected position. 
After harvest, the stems are cut down and replaced by an adjacent sucker.
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Try summer-pruning young fruit trees

Let’s assume you have a young (two to three year old), vigorous, deciduous fruit tree and it has three to five main framework branches.
Each of these should be reduced as soon as possible by 30 to 60%. This should stimulate at least two dormant buds below each cut into producing strong growth.
By the end of this growing season you should have 6 to 8 strong but not over-vigorous framework branches.
During winter the longest and strongest of these branches can be cut back by 25 to 40%, producing additional framework branches.
In essence you end up with more branches but they will be much shorter than if the tree was pruned traditionally.
The tree's canopy will also be shorter, more compact and more attractive
 

Are your indoor plants looking spindly?

Spindly growth on indoor plants usually indicates inadequate light. 
If possible, relocate the plants where the light is brighter – but don’t place them in direct sunlight or the leaves will burn.
Keep in mind, new growth on indoor plants invariably leans towards the light.
To prevent plants from becoming lopsided, remember to rotate them on a regular basis, so that all parts of the plants are turned towards the light.
Lawn Care – Stefan Palm, Paul Munns
Couch flowers

Yes it’s true – lawns do flower

If there is something strange going on at the top of your lawn grass, it’s probably flowering.
When conditions are right, couch grass, buffalo and kikuyu all produce flowers as a prelude to setting seed.
According to turf consultant Stefan Palm, conditions right now are perfect for flowering to occur.
In this week’s lawn blog Stefan explains why lawns are suddenly running to seed and how to recognise whether you are looking at lawn flowers or something else.
Stefan also has some practical tips on how to get rid of seed heads.

More information »
Paul Munns Instant Lawn

Tip pruning ornamentals

The vigour of most ornamental trees and shrubs can be reduced considerably by removing the dominant or top buds from their longest, strongest branches.
This is easily achieved by tip pruning the trees or shrubs over the next few weeks.


. . . but no short back and sides

If your topiary and ornamental plants are currently making vigorous growth, resist any temptation to grab your pruning equipment and administer a “short back and sides”.
Hard pruning in summer is likely to result in exposed branches and leaves becoming burnt by the sun. Wait until early autumn.
 

Planting fruit trees in summer                      

Planting fruit trees during late summer is quite possible, providing your garden is not exposed to strong winds, you are prepared to control weed growth and there is ready access to water.
But be prepared to improve the soil before planting. 
Regardless of whether the soil is heavy or sandy, incorporate 30-50 litres of aged compost or composted soil improver into the planting area. 
It is important that the material is thoroughly mixed with the existing topsoil. 
There should be at least 30 cm of reasonable topsoil available for planting. 
Heavy or stony subsoil should be cracked open with a mattock or crowbar.
 

These plants grow easily from cuttings

February is a good time to take semi-hardwood cuttings from a range of plants including pelargoniums, geraniums, coleus, fuchsias, carnations, begonias, daisies, correas and other native plants.

Time to repot cyclamen

If you can still find those cyclamen bulbs you put away after they finished flowering last year, it's time they were prepared for the season ahead.
Clean away any soil and old roots and re-pot them into well drained, just moist, quality potting mix.
Do not water until they begin new growth.
 

Ants are on the move

Don’t be surprised if there are large numbers of ants moving around the garden.
Ants can spread plant diseases and often carry insects such as scale and aphids from one plant to another.
Spraying their tracks is not effective as they soon establish another.
If possible locate their nest and apply an ant nest bait close to the nest entrance.
 

An effective answer for hard-to-control weeds            

Perennial weed growth including kikuyu grass and nut grass can be very difficult to control.
Cultivation usually results in moving bits of the plants roots around the garden. 
Quick-acting chemicals that have a knock-down action will also fail to provide long term control.
Systemic herbicides containing glyphosate provide your best defence. 
Water the weeds the day before spraying and carry out the operation early in the morning before temperatures become too high.

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.

Open GardensOpen Gardens SA

Saturday & Sunday, January 30 & 31
Beach Backyards
Five gardens at Henley Beach join for a combined event showcasing alternative takes on urban gardening at the beach. Each garden is different but the common thread is that all these gardeners love and enjoy their gardens.
They are not large or big-budget, but friendly gardens where food is grown and shared with family, friends and neighbours - they all feature a strong productive element.
The tour of these gardens will start at 23 Reedie St, Henley, where visitors can purchase a $15 ticket to see all five gardens.

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

More information »

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.

Joe Keilenowski, from Joe’s Connected Garden, considers the fruits most likely to adapt to our changing climate.

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
It’s hot outside & hot in the kitchen !!!
Make sure to get your Black Chilli plants while they last.
🌶🌶🌶
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
Our beautiful garden centre is awash with stunning colours and healthy, robust plants. There is unique artwork dotted around every corner. Something for everyone at Semaphore Pets & Garden.
P.S. A new load of fruit trees has just arrived! Tahitian Lime anyone?

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

Barrow & Bench
Barrow & Bench Mitre 10
321 Unley Rd, Malvern. (08) 8272 8566
You will find good supplies of locally-grown fruit trees, along with some fabulous indoor plants, plenty of mulches, soil improvers, garden stakes and more at Barrow & Bench Mitre10.  We look forward to welcoming you to our store.
Specialises in providing quality plants and expert garden advice. Follow the Instagram feed »

Coming soon

Saturday & Sunday, February 13 &14
Joe's Connected Garden
Five amazing connected, productive gardens. 10 am - 4.30 pm.
6 Argent Street, Elizabeth Grove.

Saturday & Sunday, April 10 &11
Autumn Plant Sale - Australian Plants Society (SA Region)
Adelaide Showgrounds, Wayville. More information »

Saturday & Sunday, April 10 & 11
Barossa Rose & Flower Show
Rose Society of SA. Sat noon to 5.30 pm, Sun 9 am - 5.00 pm.Barossa Nursery, 3186 Barossa Valley Way Nuriootpa.

Saturday & Sunday, April 17 & 18
Rose Society of South Australia Autumn Rose Show
Sat 10 am - 4 pm, Sun 10 am - 4 pm. Noel Lothian Hall, Adelaide Botanic Garden.

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 »

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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