From Jon Lamb Communications
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April 3, 2020

Garden centres open, seedling supply still tight

SA garden centres remain open and most are offering call or click-and-collect services as well as home delivery to gardeners in self-isolation or lockdown.
But the run on seedlings and seeds has continued, so supply is still limited, according to the Nursery & Garden Industry of SA.
"Suppliers of seedlings started upping production last week and more stock will be in garden centres in time for Easter," NGISA communications manager, Neville Sloss, told Good Gardening yesterday.
“Garden centres are reporting good sales across the board and in a survey up until yesterday, all centres which responded were open for the usual business hours," he said.
There are a few smaller centres which have closed to walk-in sales but still offering delivery and pick-up of phone orders.
Centres also report more seed packets arriving, as well as supplies of fertiliser and potting mixes. All other plants and products are in plentiful supply.
Vegetable seedlings are proving popular and there are reports that other food crops, like citrus and fruit trees, are also selling above normal levels.
"We would like to remind the public to observe social distancing and the health requirements in garden centres for their own safety and that of the staff," Neville said.
"This is critical in enabling garden centres to remain open.”
Keep calm & carry on gardening


Tomato growers adapt quickly to climate change

SA gardeners appear to be adapting quickly to our changing climate – particularly extreme heat.
Those producing the most successful crops are now combining a number of key elements. These include shading, water management and mulching.
In this year’s Good Gardening/ABC TalkBack Gardening end of season tomato survey,  58 percent of those responding reported that their crops were either excellent or good. This compares with only 30 percent rating last season.

Extreme heat

The effect of summer’s extreme heat on this season’s tomato crops was quite significant.
Just over 55 percent of those who produced a good crop (good or excellent) rated the effect of heat as either moderate or severe. For 35 percent, heat damage was light while 10 percent experienced no damage.
Contrast this with those who reported poor crops (poor or disappointing). In this case 85 percent were severely or moderately affected by the heat.

The importance of shade cloth

More than 70 percent of all respondents (good and poor) protected their crops using shade cloth. However 5 percent more gardeners with good crops protected their crops all day rather than just afternoons or hot days only.
Of greater significance was the 80 percent rating those with good crops gave to the question, “How effective was shading in delivering your harvest results”.

Drippers and soaking

When it comes to watering, 10 percent more good crops were watered with drippers compared to those who reported poor crops. Those with poor crops relied more heavily on hand watering.
  • Drippers: Good crops – 36 percent. Poor crops – 26 percent
  • Hand watering: Good crops – 52 percent. Poor crops – 62 percent.
At the same time, 5 percent more of the good crops received heavy watering (top 20 cm of soil soaked every 5 to 7 days) than those watered lightly or moderately.
NB: 90 percent of those producing good crops rated the importance of water management very highly.

Thick mulching makes a difference

Not surprisingly, more than 80 percent of all crops were mulched after planting.
However, 7 percent more of the good crops i.e. 63 percent, received a medium layer of mulch (3 to 4 cm) compared with 56 percent of the poor crops.
The importance of mulching received a 75 percent rating from those producing good crops.

More results next week

• What the survey identified about planting time, location (garden beds or containers) and the use of organic and manufactured fertilisers.

In the fruit garden this weekend

If you are thinking of planting subtropical fruit trees in your garden, do it soon.
Soil temperatures are still sitting above 20°C but they are starting to fall quite quickly.
With Easter planting in mind, consider preparing the planting area this weekend.
Fruit and nut specialist Chris Perry is suggesting custard apples, cherimoya, white sapote along with macadamias, figs and citrus, particularly  seedless mandarins. 

It's the right time to plant garlic

April and early May, while the ground is warm, is the best time to establish garlic varieties most suited to growing in SA. 
Buy a quality Australian-grown bulb and place the plumpest cloves (only) into a well-drained, sunny garden bed.  Incorporate a vegetable garden fertiliser before you plant.

Water now to head off premature leaf fall

In many gardens the leaves on deciduous trees are starting to turn yellow.
A deep soaking this weekend may pre-empt further premature leaf fall.
Feature plant

Dalina dahlias deliver long-lasting colour

This is a new series of beautiful dahlias that have been specifically selected for home gardeners.
The plants are neat and compact but quite bushy with dark green foliage that only grows to about half a metre in height.
This makes them ideal for group planting in the garden or as feature plants in an attractive container.
The flowers on Dalina dahlias appear in waves, starting in spring and continuing right through autumn.
The individual blooms are large and round with perfectly formed petals.
Each flower is long lasting, and is ideal for picking and using indoors.

Dalina dahlias are in stock this weekend at Heynes Garden Centre, Norwood and should be available at other good gardening centres.

Penstemon Cha Cha a butterfly drawcard

Cha Chas are compact, long-flowering, butterfly-attracting penstemons, that are ideal for planting along borders in garden beds as well as pots.
Cha Cha penstemon belong to a great new series of lavender, pink and cherry flowering perennials that have been selected for their compact uniform size (60 x 60 cm) and hardiness, while maintaining their ability to flower over an extremely long period.
The plants have bushy foliage producing numerous trumpet flowers all the way along sturdy upright stems.
Cha Chas look very elegant and are often used as cut flowers.
Prune old flowers to encourage new growth and give them a heavy prune once a year, late in winter.
Apply an organic fertiliser each season and give them average garden watering over the warmer months.

Penstemon Cha Cha are in stock this weekend at Heynes Garden Centre, Norwood and should be available at other good gardening centres.

Woolly aphids hit apple and pear trees

Apple and pear trees in some gardens are being attacked by woolly aphids.
These are soft-bodied black insects similar to aphids that are coated with a white waxy material.
Don’t spray with an insecticide now as you will destroy their natural predators. 
Wait until mid winter and use a white oil spray. 
This will kill their over-wintering eggs but not affect any natural predators.

Invasion of white flies attacks late crops

Hordes of small white flies are starting to appear in some gardens and early reports indicate they are causing serious damage to late crops of tomatoes, beans and basil.
Adult white fly often appear in large swarms – but check the backs of target leaves – it’s likely they are smothered with tiny white-fly eggs and very small wingless young or nymphs.
Both adults and young are sap suckers and in large numbers will quickly result in the leaves withering, turning yellow and dying.
Spraying with non-toxic materials containing potassium soaps (Natrasoap) are usually effective in reducing numbers, but be prepared for a follow-up spray.
eco oil and pest oils are also effective.
Irrigation Guide

New Micro Stake for garden micro sprays

Antelco has released a new Micro Stake for secure location of micro sprays in garden beds.
The new stakes feature:
  • Tube-piercing point on each stake tip allows creation of holes in laterals, removing the need for a separate installation tool
  • Robust and aesthetically pleasing design
  • Retaining hole in stake to align and support offtake tubing
  • UV stabilised materials for long field life.
You can purchase the stakes on their own or with 400 mm, 500 mm or 600 mm of 4 mm tube with an adaptor for fitting into the low density poly pipe lateral.

An information datasheet is available here »
You can purchase Micro Stakes at authorised Antelco distributors here »
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Give rhubarb a slow feed

To increase both the number and size of your rhubarb leaves, try mulching around the plants soon with a 2 to 3 cm layer of aged animal manure.
Cow and sheep manure is ideal.
If you plan to use poultry manure make sure it is well aged and don’t be heavy-handed.

When to harvest pumpkins   

Pumpkins can be picked for eating at any stage of their growth.
However, for long storage wait until the vine that is attached to the pumpkins thick stem starts to go dry.
This means both the stem and the pumpkin have had adequate time to mature and harden. Retain the stem when harvesting.
Lawn Care – Stefan Palm
Autumn lawn weeds

Problems expected with winter lawn weeds

As we move through autumn the likelihood of showery weather increases and with this the germination of winter weeds,  particularly in lawns.
Turf consultant Stefan Palm suggests lawn weeds are likely to be a major problem in the months ahead.
In this week’s lawn blog, Stefan looks at why. He also puts forward some practical strategies to keep some of the usual problem weeds under control.

More information on Stefan's blog  »
Paul Munns Instant Lawn

Replenishing the soil

It’s likely this season’s summer crops have used large quantities of the available soil nutrients. These need to be replenished.
A quality fertiliser that contains a balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash is ideal and if this is organic, it will be released slowly, stimulating your plants to make steady but not over vigorous growth.
Manufactured fertiliser blended specifically for vegetables is also suitable but stick to the rates recommended.
More is not better.

Fertilisers – a quick guide to what goes where

  • Liquid fertilisers (both organic and manufactured) ideal for newly established plants, particularly seedlings. Should be applied fortnightly until the plants are growing well. Also good for stimulating quick growing plants.
  • Solid organic fertilisers (pellets). Best for feeding established plants, both ornamental and productive (fruit and vegetables). But remember two water them into the top soil after applying.
  • Controlled release fertilisers (prills).The safest way to fertilise plants in containers. Incorporate the prills into the top 2 cm of potting mix.

Give your autumn annuals a boost

Autumn annuals like pansies, violas, cinerarias or polyanthus are great for adding a splash of colour around entertaining areas, particularly when planted in window boxes, hanging baskets and decorative pots.Seasol
Place them close to the house for a cheery splash of cool season colour.
Team plants together that enjoy similar growing conditions and place the taller plants in the centre of the pots with compact or trailing plants around the edges.
Watering your plants with Seasol helps promote strong healthy root growth and settle young plants into their new home. Continue to apply it every two weeks throughout the growing season.
Apply Power feed PRO SERIES for Roses and Flowers every two weeks to promote strong, healthy growth and loads of flowers.

More information »

Quick guide to planting vegetables

  • All vegetables and most herbs are sun lovers.
  • Choose a position that receives full sun or nothing less than 20 percent shade.
  • Cultivate the soil to a depth of 25cm as this is where most of the vegetable roots grow.
  • Before the plants are established, improve the soil by incorporating complete garden fertiliser (half a cupful to the square metre).
  • Adding well made compost or soil improver to the top 25cm of soil will also help.
    This will make a significant difference during hot weather as both materials hold many times their own weight in water.
  • Once the plants are established, install a micro irrigation system and don’t forget the mulch.

Why citrus skins often split at this time of year

Don’t be surprised if the skins on your navel oranges suddenly start to split as they begin to mature. This is a common problem during autumn.
As the fruits approach maturity their size increases quite rapidly.
However, if the internal flesh grows faster than the outer skins the rind will split at the weakest point.
Skin splitting is often linked to the sudden addition of moisture (rain or irrigation) to dry soil.
Other stress factors can include temperature fluctuations (warm days – cool nights), high humidity or too much nitrogen fertiliser.
Tip: If the ground is dry under your trees, consider a light watering this weekend  and a follow up watering next week.

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.

Garden events and shows cancelled

The COVID-19 situation has forced the cancellation of numerous garden events and shows.
All current and coming events listed in recent editions of Good Gardening have been cancelled.
Weekend gardening weather

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.

Topic: The three-month weather outlook for gardeners with SA independent climatologist, Darren Ray – the possibility of a wetter-than-normal winter and will the autumn seasonal break arrive on time later this month

Garden centre directory

Leading Adelaide garden centres recommended by Good Gardening newsletter.

Heyne's Garden Centre
283-289 The Parade, Beulah Park. (08) 8332 2933
South Australia's oldest established garden centre. Huge range. Expert staff on hand for personal advice. Visit online »

Regular garden attractions

Some of our listed regular attractions may have closed or have limited access, due to the COVID-19 situation.
Please check with the relevant organisation.

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, 1pm and 3pm.
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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