From Jon Lamb Communications
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January 24, 2020

Fruit harvest – beating the birds      

How do you protect your garden from fruit eating birds that magically appear a few days before your fruit is ripe and ready to pick?
If you’re fair dinkum about beating the birds, you have two alternatives.
  • Repulsion.  Make the immediate surroundings inhospitable to the birds.
  • Protection.  Surround the fruit or trees with some form of protective cover.

Beating the habit

Fruit eating birds are creatures of habit.  Once their forward scouts discover your fruit the chance of repelling the hordes that 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, the likelihood of you harvesting fruit is quite good.

Protection your best defence

One of the most effective means of protecting your fruit is to capitalise on a birds natural fear of large ‘birds of prey’ i.e. hawks, eagles and owls.
If it is possible, try suspending a cut out hawk silhouette (available online) over your trees
Bird netting in lengths long enough to cover a typical fruit tree is also available from most garden centres. 
It is extremely effective, providing the trees are covered before the fruit begins to ripen.
Note – The netting should be removed as soon as the fruit has been harvested and be aware, there is a high risk that small birds can become trapped in the net or they can end up with broken or injured wings.

Harvest hygiene vital to beat pest problems

Early maturing plums and peaches are starting to ripen in many gardens and invariably some of this fruit falls to the ground.
Windfall fruit should be removed immediately and certainly before it starts to break down. 
Fungal rots that cause fruit decay will quickly spread to ripening fruit by a range of scavenging insects, including ants and particularly a small brown beetle known as carpopholus.

Important: Windfalls are also likely to attract European wasps and fruit fly.
Collecting fallen fruit regularly will protect your garden from these unwanted insects.
FRUIT FLY HOTLINE: 1300 666 010
Feature plant

Colourful coleus – simply beautiful

If you are looking for reliable, easy-care colour that will last right through the growing season – and beyond – it’s hard to go past the latest range of Simply Beautiful Coleus.
The leaf colour combinations on these “look at me” varieties really are quite stunning.
The plants are compact and come in a range of sizes, generally 60 to 90 cm high and 32 – 70 cm wide.
Coleus are ideal plants for growing in a shaded or semi-shaded courtyard and look great when mixed in a feature container or group planted in the landscape.
Three great selections include: Campfire – eye-catching orange foliage; Flame Thrower – purple and chartreuse leaves; and Coleosaurus – vibrant dark red and lime green leaves.
Simply beautiful coleus are available from good garden centres.

Pictured above is Flamethrower - Spiced Curry.

Non climbing mandevilla – bushy but tidy

What about growing a bushy, non-climbing Jade mandevilla.
Jade mandevillas really looked great growing in an attractive container or group planted in a garden bed.
Unlike traditional climbing mandevillas, the Jade series have an attractive tidy bushy shape (60 x 40 cm) and will not climb up anything, nor will they flop over.
Like all mandevillas, the Jade series carry large trumpet like blooms right through the warmer months.
Colours include scarlet, pink and white.
The foliage is a deep glossy green and looks quite tropical.
The Jade series also has increased tolerance to cold and as a result they don’t drop their leaves through winter.

More information »

Young fruit trees benefit from summer pruning

Young fruit trees that are well managed and producing strong growth have the potential to double in size by the end of the season
However, at least half of this growth will be wasted, as it will be removed when you prune in winter.
New branches that are likely to form the main frame on your fruit trees can be pruned right now by removing one third to half of the top growth. 
Branches growing in the wrong direction should be completely removed. 
All shorter branches can be retained as they will help absorb much of the tree’s excess vigour.
Irrigation Guide

Protect your system with a pressure regulator

Have you ever installed a micro drip or spray irrigation system for a home garden and turned it on and found the parts blow off causing leaks and damages?
Chances are you have installed a system on a high pressure mains supply that has a small flow rate without a pressure regulator.

The solution

With micro irrigation systems it is best to install a preset pressure regulator that provides a constant downstream pressure over its recommended flow range.

More information »

Two-step tap timers ideal for busy gardeners

The problem of watering plants or sections of the garden more than once a day is easily solved using relatively new, low-cost, two-station tap timers.
One setting controls how often you operate the system and the second determines how long.
The timers are battery operated and the controls turn on and off automatically.
  • How often – Every hour, two hours etc or every day, two days etc
  • How long – From one minute to 24 hours per run
  • Benefit - Low cost, easy to set, battery operated
  • Price range $30-$50.
Simply set the first setting on how often you want the system to run and the second on how long.

Send us your diary dates

Don't forget to send us your garden event dates and details for inclusion in the Good Gardening "What's On" calendar.
You can email us here »

Lots of leaks

The problem of annoying leaks from “snap-on” hose fittings is easily solved by replacing the o ring (readily available from hardware stores). 
If this fails, check the internal plastic lugs. 
If they’re bent or broken, it’s beyond repair – buy a new fitting.
Lawn Care – Stefan Palm

Watering the lawn – drippers or sprinklers?

When it comes to watering the lawn the traditional method has been to use some form of sprinkler.
However, times are changing; there is now a range of different types of lawn sprinklers offering important benefits.
More recently there has been growing interest in the use of subsurface drippers that are buried beneath the turf.
In this week’s lawn blog SA turf advisor Stefan Palm looks at the benefits and potential downside of these different systems and considers which method of watering is likely to be best for your garden.
There is also a useful link to a “How to install sprinklers” video.
More details »
Paul Munns Instant Lawn
Seasol lquid compost

Liquid compost – a great “no dig” alternative

Healthy, fertile soil that is rich in organic matter and microbial activity is able to absorb and hold a considerable amount of water.
This allows it to deliver much needed water and nutrients to plants during dry times, especially in summer.
To improve your soil structure and keep it healthy, try applying organic matter and well-aged manure every couple of months.
However, for a no dig option try Seasol Liquid Compost.
This is a dynamic soil conditioner and improver that contains liquid compost that benefits both the soil structure and soil moisture retention.
It also contains Seasol, which helps plants cope with heat and drought.
Tip:  In addition, apply mulch to the surface of the soil. This will help conserve moisture and regulate the soil temperature.

More information »

Still time for second summer plantings          

It’s not too late to establish a second planting of tomatoes and other summer salad lines, particularly cucumbers, zucchinis and capsicum. 
These will mature quickly and at the same time, extend the harvest.
As mentioned last week, be prepared to protect new seedlings on days when temperatures are likely exceed 32°C.

New plum is high in antioxidants

Health organisations around the world agree, high levels of antioxidants are beneficial to the human body in assisting the immune system to help fight obesity, sickness and disease.
However, they point out it is important to always consume both the skin as well as the flesh of fruits high in antioxidants.
The latest new fruit released in SA is the high antioxidant, a-okay Plum.
Laboratory testing over two consecutive seasons has shown the a okay Plum has much higher levels of antioxidants than other varieties.
The a-okay Plum has been released in SA through PlantNet and distributed to garden centres by Balhannah Nurseries.
More information »

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, 8.30 am to 10 am – phone me and Deb Tribe on 1300 222 891 and have your own gardening question answered.

Guest: Matt Coulter head plant propagator, Adelaide Botanic Gardens
Topic: Mid summer a great time to strike cuttings
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 »

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 »

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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