From Jon Lamb Communications
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December 13, 2019

First heatwave expected
Water before the temperatures spike

South Australia is about to receive its first wave of extended heat for the season.
Your best defence against heat damage to garden plants is water.
The importance of watering the garden before temperatures begin to climb was  clearly demonstrated following our first 40°C plus heat spike back in November, as well as last Sunday's short burst.
Gardens that were well watered before temperatures approached 40°C came through both events practically unscathed.
On the other hand, where soil moisture was limited many plants, particularly those in small containers, suffered heat stress.

Keeping cool

Most garden plants have an incredible ability to keep themselves cool. 
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.

It's time to shade container grown vegetables

If you are growing vegetables or herbs in containers or small raised garden beds consider protecting them from the direct heat of summer’s sun by providing temporary shade.
A simple structure covered with 50% white shade cloth is all that is needed.
The aim is to prevent direct sun from heating the soil (and the plant’s root zone) to a level where root damage occurs.
It’s also worth remembering plants growing in the shade use 50% less water than those growing in full sun.

Here's a simple structure for shading

This simple shade structure was put together by readers Chris and Christine, following recent advice on ABC TalkBack Gardening.
The poly piping is simply slotted into short star droppers in the ground.
Feature plant

Stunning new dahlias for home gardeners

Have you checked out the latest Dalina dahlias? These are neat, compact, bushy plants  with dark green foliage that only grow half a metre in height – absolutely ideal for home gardeners.
The flowers on Dalina dahlias appear in waves starting in spring and continuing through to autumn.
The individual blooms are large and round with perfectly formed petals.
Each flower is long lasting, ideal for picking and using in an indoor display.
Because the colour range is wide you can mix and match with other garden plants or simply add them to your patio colour scheme.
Look out for Tampico –  the flowers are red with white outer flecks and it would make a wonderful Christmas present or a table centre piece.
Mendoza is a brilliant pink that anyone would fall in love with and Tequilla is an array of oranges.

Waiting for cucumbers and zucchini to set

Some gardeners are reporting plenty of flowers on their cucumber and zucchini bushes, but the flowers are failing to set.
Early in the season:
  • Male flowers usually outnumber female flowers by 10 to 1.
  • 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, hand pollination can often achieve reasonable fruit set.
Fruit set on cucumbers, zucchinis as well as tomatoes, capsicum and eggfruit, can also be seriously affected by hot weather.
When temperatures exceed 32°C flower pollen dries rapidly and the flowers drop without setting.

Bloomers for quick festive colour     

If the outdoor entertaining area is looking a little drab, consider adding a quick splash of colour with bloomers. These are small plants, already in bloom and usually sold as a “sixpack”
These can be easily transferred into decorator bowls, baskets or group planted in the garden. 
An alternative is to check out the ever increasing range of high performing summer flowering perennials.  You don’t need many plants to create a small but attractive display.
More on courtyard colour plants in my Advertiser gardening column, tomorrow.

Begonia Dragon Wings Red

Dragon Wings produces non-stop bright red, waxy flowers on a lush green canopy of leaves 30-40cm high.  Excellent tolerance to heat and low light.  Very hardy but don’t overwater.

Review of Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens

South Australian gardeners have been invited to have their say on proposed ideas to revitalise and upgrade facilities at the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens.
The aim is to improve tourism opportunities and the overall experience of visitors as well as to build on the educational, horticultural and conservation work of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium.
Members of the public are invited to visit the two garden open days to be held at the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens on Saturday, December 14, 2019 and January 11, 2020.
More details »
Seasol potting mix booster

New beneficial booster for potting mix

Seasol Potting Mix Booster is designed to bring life to both new and existing potting mix because of the addition of beneficial soil microbes.
Simply mix the solution into the potting mix and water in thoroughly.
Over time potting mix becomes worn out, microbes die, and the mix becomes lifeless – affecting the health of your plants.
Seasol Potting Mix Booster brings tired old potting mix back to life by creating a living potting mix with the help of beneficial microbes.
It also helps to improve aeration and water absorption and makes plants more resilient to drought.
New potting mix can also start to break down after a couple of weeks, due to the lack of good microbes.
Seasol Potting Mix Booster helps to keep the mix alive by incorporating beneficial microbes and natural minerals.
This helps plants to flourish, boosting their root system and promoting strong, healthy growth.
Mix the solution into the top 2 cm of the potting mix topsoil or mix through the potting mix and backfill soil before planting.
More information »
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No high nitrogen for citrus

Now is not the time to ply citrus trees with high levels of nitrogen fertiliser – particularly if your trees were attacked by citrus leaf miner last season.
Citrus leaf miner is a very small caterpillar that produces long thin irregular tunnels or “mines” in the soft new tip growth on citrus trees. This causes the leaves to curl and distort before dropping.
Heavy applications of nitrogen fertiliser at this time of the year will stimulate the trees into producing large quantities of soft green leaves.

Five water saving tips           

  • Increase the period between watering rather than reduce the amount of water being applied.This will reduce plant vigour and water lost through unnecessary transpiration.
  • Watering during the evening or early morning when conditions are cool will help reduce moisture lost through evaporation. During hot weather more than 60 percent of the water you apply can literally disappear into thin air.
  • Eliminating sprinklers that throw water onto the plant’s leaves will also help reduce transpiration losses.
  • Avoid using sprinklers in the wind during summer and autumn, as evaporation losses can be considerable.

Festivity  – an attractive but small ornamental pear

Looking for that ornamental tree which throws some shade but doesn’t grow too large?  Have you heard of the Festivity™ ornamental pear?  It’s like a mini Manchurian pear.
Whereas the Manchurian (Ussuriensis) pear can grow to a spectacular 10m tall (and 7-8m wide), this smaller version grows to approx. 4m tall and 5m wide – a perfect shade specimen for a smaller garden.
Festivity™ sports a finer leaf than other ornamental pears but the same highly attractive autumn colours.

New blueberry will extend your fruit harvest

There are now two great blueberry bush varieties available for growing in home gardens.
Blueberry Burst® has been available in South Australia for some time and it produces its fruit just before the latest release – Blueberry Kisses®.
When both varieties are planted in the garden it is possible to harvest big juicy blueberries for 6 to 8 months of the year.
Both Blueberry Burst and Blueberry Kisses are dwarf, evergreen and self pollinating. 
The fruit is crisp but sweet and full of antioxidants. The berries are also extremely large.
Blueberry Burst and Blueberry Kisses are Australian bred varieties, released by PlantNet and available in South Australia through good garden centres, supplied by Balhannah Nurseries.
More information »
Irrigation Guide

Potstream – a better way to water potted plants

With the summer season in full swing it might be time to give your potted plants an early Christmas present by installing Potstream® emitters. 
Potstream is a new, fully adjustable watering device designed specifically for potted plants and container watering
Potstream was designed from the bottom up by firstly considering the peeves of potted plant watering
To address these peeves the design of the Potstream includes the following:
  • A side mounted watering location.
  • An adjustable watering pattern from shut off to distributing water across the pot, via the easily accessible adjustment knob.
  • Light gentle targeted streams to apply water at a low application rate.
  • Tidy micro tube location down the side of the pot.
Potstream is fully South Australian designed and manufactured by Antelco, Australia’s premier micro irrigation solutions provider.Potstream

More information on Potstream here »
Potstream is available at all authorised Antelco Irrigation stockists »

Strategies for reducing earwig populations

The key to preventing earwig damage is to reduce the population to a stage where they no longer need to leave the confines of your garden mulch.
Because earwigs need to shelter by day and tend to gather in groups, it is possible to eliminate large numbers very quickly by regular trapping.
You may care to try one or more of the following:
  • Place an upturned clay pot on the ground with one side propped up to allow the earwigs to enter
  • Fill an upturned clay pot placed on its side with slightly damp crumpled newspaper
  • Place rolls of newspaper or cardboard in areas where the earwigs have been feeding.
Each morning, clear the traps but you will need to be diligent.  These critters are expert escape artists.
Lawn Care – Stefan Palm

Is your lawn flowering or running to seed?

Most gardeners are familiar with vegetables and ornamental plants that flower and run to seed.
But what about your lawn grass?
If the grasses in your lawn are looking a little different at the moment or maybe they look like they have suddenly become weedy – don’t panic. It’s quite likely the grasses are flowering or running to seed.
According to turf consultant Stefan Palm, this is not an unusual occurrence, particularly at this time of the year.
In this week’s lawn blog Stefan explains why lawns suddenly run to seed and when it occurs, what you can do to get rid of the seed heads.
More information »
Paul Munns Instant Lawn

Orchids still need regular attention

By Trev Garard.
Orchid Club of South Australia

By now all summer protection should be in place or your orchids moved to the coolest areas you can provide. Watering must be more regular, even as much as twice a day, when temperatures get above the mid- thirties.
Surprisingly, we have to be alert to fungal attacks that can occur after a temperature change.
Days of extreme heat followed by a sudden cool spell with rain can allow a fungus attack on the already heat-stressed plants.
This is even more important if you are trying to establish seedling plants. Many young plants are lost to this scenario.

Plants in flower: Australian native Cymbidiums and Sarcochilus plants.
If any of the flowering plants show signs of stress you may need to take the disappointing step of removing the flower spikes to allow the plant to recover.
There are some exotic orchids that may be in flower including the newer intergeneric Zygopetalum alliance plants that have been bred for yellow flowers.
This group includes the intergeneric Propabstopetalums that produce different shades of yellow flowers,
Have a great Festive Season and New Year. Good growing.

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.

Guests –  Brett Draper, garden horticulturalist and Haidi Sutherland, plant consultant.
Topic – Garden plants for Christmas: a review of the latest releases, along with traditional favourites.
Weekend gardening weather

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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