WATCH THAT WA­TER­ING

Most house­plants grown for spring and sum­mer dis­plays re­quire far less wa­ter dur­ing win­ter than most would think, and PETER CUN­DALL says it doesn’t hurt to start re­duc­ing that amount of wa­ter right about now

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - GARDENING - with Peter Cun­dall

Go easy on large-flow­er­ing florists cy­cla­mens ... Thou­sands are killed ev­ery win­ter due to over-wa­ter­ing by over-en­thu­si­as­tic own­ers

Tem­per­a­tures are per­fect and con­di­tions rel­a­tively dry for healthy out­door work right now. Here are a few jobs, which if car­ried out over the next week or so can re­ju­ve­nate ex­hausted or ne­glected gar­dens.

Lay turf or sow seed to cre­ate new lawns. Cool moist weather im­me­di­ately ahead en­sures suc­cess. Ap­ply lime to moss patches in ex­ist­ing lawns and where lay­ers of ‘thatch’ – dead grass oc­cur to speed up de­com­po­si­tion. Also, sprin­kle lime over flower beds des­tined to grow an­nual or bi­en­nial plants dur­ing later win­ter and spring.

Late au­tumn is an ideal time to plant camel­lias, rhodo­den­drons, aza­leas and er­i­cas, all of which will pro­duce win­ter and spring flow­ers this year. Con­tinue to pur­chase and plant spring bulbs. In­clude un- com­mon ones such Ba­boon Flower (Babi­ana spp.) and be sure to plant bulbs deeply for su­perb, royal blue flow­ers.

Jockey Cap (Ti­gridia pavo­nia) is another out­stand­ing bul­bous plant which goes in dur­ing au­tumn. The huge, bright red, or­ange or bi-coloured flow­ers have a star­tling beauty and thrive in Tas­ma­nia.

Peren­ni­als such as Can­ter­bury Bells, del­phinium, gyp­sophila, lupin, or­na­men­tal kale, ori­en­tal poppy and herba­ceous pe­onies can go in now as seedlings or di­vi­sions for un­for­get­table spring and sum­mer colour.

Go easy on large-flow­er­ing florists cy­cla­mens. Thou­sands are killed ev­ery win­ter due to over-wa­ter­ing by over-en­thu­si­as­tic own­ers. Al­ways wait un­til pot­ting soils have started to dry out be­fore adding more wa­ter.

Most house­plants grown for spring and sum­mer dis­plays of fo­liage and flow­ers re­quire far less wa­ter dur­ing win­ter so start re­duc­ing the amount they re­ceive. Don’t make the mis­take of plac­ing wa­ter­filled saucers be­neath con­tain­ers. Wa­ter­logged pot­ting soils are the big­gest cause of house-plant loss dur­ing win­ter.

Groom ex­ist­ing house-plants by re­mov­ing dis­eased or yel­low­ing leaves and al­ways clear away de­cay­ing de­bris from

sur­faces of pot­ting soils. Root bound house­plants can be re-pot­ted now while soils are still warm.

The best tonic for win­ter-flow­er­ing house­plants is very weak liq­uid fer­tiliser.

In the veg­etable gar­den it’s a per­fect time to plant gar­lic and sow broad­beans, English spinach and in well-drained, frost-free coastal dis­tricts, early peas.

Also har­vest pump­kins be­fore frosts strike and store un­der cover on lay­ers of card­board.

Those green toma­toes still hang­ing can be saved by pulling en­tire plants, roots and all from the ground. Hang up­side down from a beam in a garage or gar­den shed so the toma­toes can con­tinue to ripen, safe from frosts.

Leaf veg­eta­bles such as cab­bage, cauliflower, Brus­sels sprouts, broc­coli, let­tuce, sil­ver­beet, Chi­nese bras­si­cas and English spinach are best fed with ex­tra-weak fish emul­sion ev­ery three weeks.

Beds which will be grow­ing grow onions, as­para­gus, globe artichokes, cel­ery, win­ter bras­si­cas and let­tuces are limed in au­tumn.

Help con­trol dis­eases and pests by rak­ing up all fallen fruit and re­mov­ing all cling­ing mum­mi­fied stone fruit. Most fruit trees are best mulched to sup­press grass and weeds. All badly suck­er­ing pas­sion­fruit are best grubbed out re­placed in Oc­to­ber. Codling moth trap bands must be com­pletely re­moved from ap­ple trees and de­stroyed.

Plant new cer­ti­fied straw­berry run­ners into clean soil and dis­card all plants more than three years old.

This is one of the safest times of the year to trans­plant small ev­er­green trees or shrubs while keep­ing root-balls in­tact. Many of these plants have rel­a­tively com­pact roots, so are eas­ily lifted. Pre­pare new planting holes first and if dry, fill with wa­ter three or four times. Soak plants to be moved so wet soil clings around roots, then care­fully lift each plant keep­ing root­ball in­tact and undis­turbed.

Those with tight, fi­brous roots are the eas­i­est to trans­plant and in­clude au­cuba, abelia, aza­lea, buxus, camel­lia, chamae­cy­paris, cit­rus, cryp­tome­ria, cu­pres­sus, dick­so­nia (re­move all fronds first), erica, es­cal­lo­nia, fe­li­cia, fuch­sia, gar­rya, gor­do­nia, hebe, hy­per­icum, ju­nipe­rus, kalmia, ker­ria, Lau­rus no­bilis (Sweet Bay), lonicera, miche­lia, most palms, rhodo­den­dron (even large spec­i­mens), taxus, vibur­num, weigela and yucca.

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