From Jon Lamb Communications
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November 22, 2019

After the heat, check the damage

How did your garden survive Wednesday’s scorcher?
Sudden heat spikes early in the growing season will often see many plants severely stressed.
But unless the plant’s roots run out of moisture they usually recover quickly.
Recovery from heat stress can be aided considerably with an application of a product containing seaweed or compost.

Watering in hot weather                               

How much water does the garden need when temperatures begin to soar?
Fortunately, most garden plants have an incredible ability to keep themselves cool. 
Basically, moisture from the soil is taken in through the plant’s roots and pushed out through its leaves, creating an ongoing cooling effect (transpiration). 
So long as there is adequate moisture in the soil, the leaves on a healthy sun loving plant should not become scorched.
The key to preventing heat stress during extended hot weather is to make sure there is plenty of moisture in the plant’s root system at all times.

Here's a useful guide to how much water your
garden plants need when you irrigate »

More information on watering in my Advertiser gardening column, tomorrow.

Adelaide garden soils are running on dry

Most suburban gardens have only received one significant rainfall (10 mm plus) in the past 12 weeks. 
After 2 weeks of strong, buffeting, soil desiccating winds there is now little moisture remaining in the topsoil. 
Weather models currently suggest there is little significant rain likely over the next 2 weeks. This could be a good weekend for watering.

Biodegradable answer for water-repellent soils

eco-hydrateeco-hydrate is a unique water saving product that works in five ways:
  • Dramatically improves water penetration
  • Uses special sugars to attract and store additional moisture into the soil
  • Reduces plant stress
  • Helps plants become more efficient with water use
  • Helps to improve soil structure
eco-hydrate is much more than just a wetting agent.  Available from Bunnings, other hardware stores, nurseries and online at
Feature plant
Easy Colour Christmas mix

Planning Christmas colour is Easy

Bringing Christmas colour to your garden, patio and pots or table decorations is easy this season with Easy Colour packs that feature quick-growing plants in red and white.
Included in the selection are Petunia Christmas, Impatiens Christmas, Salvia Christmas and Verbena Christmas.
Each selection is already in bloom in the distinctive Easy Colour purple packs.
These plants are bigger and more advanced than those you find in traditional punnets reducing transplant’s shock and ensuring your plants begin to grow straight away.
Why not try companion planting with other Easy Colour varieties such as Allysum White, Cineraria Silverdust or Calibrachoas for a sensational Christmas display.

 Easy Colour

More information here »

Diamond Dazzler

Euphorbia Diamond Dazzler

There are not many small, attractive plants that hold their colour all year round. Diamond Dazzler is definitely one.
Diamond dazzler is a unique euphorbia that is smothered all year round with pure white double blooms.
Like the well-known euphorbia, “Diamond Frost” it’s blooms are produced on a very compact canopy that spreads 25 to 30 cm wide.
This makes Diamond dazzler an ideal container plant but it also looks great growing as an informal low hedge or used for contrasting in combination plantings.
Both euphorbia’s thrive in full sun or in a semi shade and are virtually maintenance free.

Diamond Dazzlers are available from leading garden centres.
More information here »

Leaves are good watering indicators

Look closely at the leaves on your plants and particularly their growing tips. 
If the leaves look limp and the growing tips are starting to wilt, soil water reserves are running low and it’s time to water.

Double potting tip for container plants

One of the easiest ways to prevent heat damage to plant roots in containers is to place one container inside another. 
Double potting can reduce root ball temperatures by 10 to 15°C – more than enough to keep your plants thriving even in heatwave conditions.
In many gardens small shrubs are often planted directly into attractive ceramic pots. 
However, it is far more effective to leave a plant in its plastic pot and place this inside the larger ceramic container.
Mulching the surface of the container with a thin layer of mulch helps reduce surface radiant heat as well as conserve moisture.

Why you can tell good soil by its smell

As gardeners, I’m sure many of us have gone out into the garden after it’s been raining and you can smell that lovely earthy smell. You can often smell it when you turn over your compost heap.
This is due to a compound called Geosmin, which is a compound secreted by bacteria know as Streptomyces.
What it indicates is a soil that is biologically active – meaning it has a lot of bacteria and fungi in it.  Exactly the sort of thing you want to have.
Geosmin is a bit of a strange compound. Humans can detect it at very low levels and we love the smell of it in the soil.
Geosmin gives beets that district earthy flavour, and it is even used in perfumes to get that earthy smell.
We don’t know exactly why bacteria produce Geosmin – it may be to attract soil insect like the spring tails and pill bugs you see in your compost.
These insects help degrade organic material and turn over the soil, and by doing this they carry the spores of the bacteria to other locations.

You can learn more about the presence of Geosmin in garden soils and the beneficial microbes that produce this compound here »

Keep planting roses

Tradition says because roses are deciduous they should be established in winter while the bushes are dormant. 
In reality, they will grow just as well when planted (from containers) in spring, summer or autumn – while they are actually growing.
However, if you are thinking of buying new roses this season try to establish the bushes soon. 
This gives them plenty of time to settle in before being subjected to hot weather during summer.
It also means you can make your colour selection while the bushes are still producing their spring display.
Green living tips

Climate-ready gardens

It looks like we are in for a hot dry summer.
Not to be denied, many gardeners will continue their passion for producing fresh fruit and vegetables, growing flowers and ornamentals or encouraging wildlife back into their garden.
Fortunately, there are a number of organisations, such as Natural Resources, Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges, that provide a great deal of practical garden related advice along with backup information.
Here are 5 practical tips to help create a climate ready garden:
  • Use mulch to help keep precious water in the soil.
  • Choose local native plants which are better adapted to our seasons. For a list of native nurseries across the Adelaide region, click here
  • Plant deciduous trees or vines on the western side of your house, to let winter sunlight in, but keep summer sun out
  • Design safe places in your garden for wildlife - include water, plants, logs and rocks. For more ideas click here
  • Connect with your neighbours and community to help each other. For ideas, click here

Climbers – great space savers

When space in the garden is at a premium and colour is required, consider a colourful creeper. 
But take particular care that you match the plant’s potential size to the available space and don’t forget to check out its vigour. 
Garden centres should have a range of heat-tolerant creepers on display.
These can usually be planted during summer (providing it is not a heatwave) with minimum setback.
Lawn Care – Stefan Palm

Water-repellent soils a major problem in lawns

Unsightly brown patches are appearing in many lawns across Adelaide and they are likely to become a major problem in the season ahead.
According to turf advisor Stefan Palm it’s very likely the patches are being caused by water-repellent soils.
This is where water runs over the soil rather than being absorbed into it.
In this week’s lawn blog Stefan explains why soils become water repellent and explains what you need to do to treat the problem.
More information here»

Lawn watering frequency worth a look

If you are concerned about the cost of watering the lawn and you operate a system that only runs for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 or 3 days, keep in mind you can reduce the amount of water you use considerably simply by watering longer but much less often.
When you water, run your system long enough to soak the top 10 cm of soil.
This will encourage lawn grass roots to follow the moisture well below the surface.
Instead of having to water once of twice weekly and lose much of the moisture you apply through evaporation, you should be able to gradually extend the period between watering to once a week or may be once a fortnight.
Paul Munns Instant Lawn

Mites on the march

Very small, sap-sucking, spider like insects, known as mites are breeding rapidly on many fruit trees, roses and vegetables, particularly tomatoes, eggfruit, cucumbers and zucchinis.
These critters thrive in hot dry conditions and large numbers can cause serious damage.  
Spraying the leaves thoroughly with wettable sulphur (not on hot days or on cucumbers) or with a horticultural soap such as Natrasoap provides effective protection.

Time to trim topiary

November is a good time to trim topiary plants as they should be making strong but not excessive growth. 
If the plants are in good health they should respond quickly and produce a second flush of growth before Christmas. 
Regular trimming every 6 to 8 weeks is preferable to one big operation towards the end of the growing season.

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.
Sunday, November 24
Plant Sale, Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide
10.30am- 2.30pm, Mt Lofty Botanic Garden, Plant Nursery, Trade Entrance (Entry via Lampert Rd). More information »

Open GardensOpen Gardens

Saturday & Sunday, November 23 & 24
Spring Court Garden
11 Spring Court, Hahndorf
A very secluded garden. Hardy low growing perennials line the driveway and a row of eucalypts tower above them. Inside the garden a smoke bush and two golden ash trees with a borrowed backdrop of more eucalypts continue above the fence line which surprisingly is just below the SE Freeway.
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 2019 season »

Weekend gardening weather

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.

Guest – Irrigation consultant Richard Wilson.
Topic – Watering the garden – how much and how often.

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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