There’s still plenty of time to spring into ac­tion

While it seems like the plants in your gar­den are go­ing gang busters all by them­selves right now, there are still plenty of jobs the keen gar­dener can do to keep on top of the work­load, ac­cord­ing to PETER CUN­DALL

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS - Peter Cun­dall

Novem­ber in Tas­ma­nia is al­ways a time of fran­tic growth.

That’s be­cause our plants are re­ceiv­ing ex­tra sun­light and soil warm enough for even the most tender plants. Keep fu­elling this vig­or­ous spring growth by sprin­kling fer­tilis­ers around most or­na­men­tals and es­pe­cially by feed­ing the soil in the veg­etable gar­den where the de­mand is most ur­gent.

Most trees and shrubs are con­tent with one good feed ev­ery spring.

Rhodo­den­drons, aza­leas, camel­lias, er­i­cas and other or­na­men­tal shrubs ben­e­fit when thick lay­ers of sheep or pul­verised cow ma­nure are spread gen­er­ously – but al­ways well clear of main stems to avoid col­lar rot.

Mean­while here are a few jobs worth do­ing this month.

Start di­vid­ing con­gested bearded iris clumps im­me­di­ately flow­er­ing fin­ishes by cut­ting away dead rhi­zomes and re­plant­ing healthy in­creases af­ter trim­ming the leaves back.

With­ered rhodo­den­dron flower-trusses are best snapped off at necks leav­ing the new growth buds and shoots just un­derneath un­dam­aged. Old, strag­gly rhodo­den­drons, es­pe­cially those of R. fra­grantis­sima and Pink Pearl can be safely pruned back to junc­tions, to stim­u­late new shoots low down.

Prune back or thin spring flow­er­ing shrubs as blos­soms fade. When lilacs fin­ish bloom­ing, re­move dead flower heads leav­ing branches in­tact.

In the veg­etable patch, plant seedlings of tomato, cap­sicum, sum­mer cab­bage, let­tuce, basil, cel­ery, cele­riac, Brus­sels sprouts, kale, pumpkin, win­ter squash, zuc­chini and sil­ver beet. Wait a week or two be­fore plant­ing cu­cum­ber and egg­plant seedlings.

Di­rectly-sow­ing seeds of root veg­eta­bles al­ways pro­duce health­ier and heav­ier yields, es­pe­cially va­ri­eties of car­rot, beet­root, parsnip, spring onion, swedes, turnip, radish and kohlrabi. Sweet­corn grown di­rectly from seed never looks back while bush and climb­ing bean seedlings hate

Pour in plenty of weak liq­uid ma­nure ev­ery few weeks and re­mem­ber it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to over-feed rhubarb

trans­plant­ing – so buy seeds ev­ery time and sow di­rect.

As weather con­di­tion start to be­come dry, deeply wa­ter rhubarb clumps and snap off all flow­er­ing spikes. Pour in plenty of weak liq­uid ma­nure ev­ery cou­ple of weeks and keep in mind that it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to over-feed rhubarb.

In the fruit gar­den, start thin­ning ap­ples, pears, peaches, apri­cots and plums for big­ger, tastier fruit. Con­stantly pick off and take away all small ap­ples show­ing signs of codling moth grub attack.

When the first pear and cherry slugs ap­pear on leaves, scat­ter builders’ lime over all the fo­liage – but be sure to stand up-wind to avoid be­ing cov­ered.

New rasp­berry and bram­ble­berry shoots are best tied in as fast as they grow while straw­berry plants should be kept groomed re­move dead leaves and de­formed fruit.

Blue­berry bushes need lots of wa­ter and weak liq­uid fer­tilis­ers made from de­com­posed ma­nures.

Long grass and weeds grow­ing close to fruit trees and bushes are steal­ing nu­tri­ents at a cru­cial time. Mow them off then smother all new growth with heavy mulching ma­te­ri­als.

All con­tainer-grown house and tub plants be­come vul­ner­a­ble to dry­ing out dur­ing this time of max­i­mum growth so in­crease the amount of wa­ter ap­plied. Also clean up pot­ting soil sur­faces to re­move mouldy leaves and other de­bris to avoid dis­eases.

Reg­u­larly sy­ringe room-tem­per­a­ture wa­ter over all ferns grown in­doors. Most large-flow­ered florists cy­cla­mens have been bloom­ing since mid-win­ter and many are look­ing ex­hausted. As blooms and leaves wither, grad­u­ally al­low pot­ting soils to dry out. Sadly, these plants are prone to dis­ease as they age and rarely flower pro­lif­i­cally the fol­low­ing year. Tuber­ous-rooted be­go­nias are already shoot­ing into new growth and with care, light feed­ing and con­stant dead-head­ing can pro­duce spec­tac­u­lar sum­mer-long blooms. The great killer of these beau­ti­ful plants is al­ways too much wa­ter. So only ap­ply more wa­ter as pot­ting soils show signs of dry­ing.

And when out in the gar­den be sure to wear a hat. Skin can­cer is deadly – I write from bit­ter ex­pe­ri­ence hav­ing just had a num­ber of sin­is­ter-look­ing sun-spots, painfully cut out - and this year the dan­ger ap­pears par­tic­u­larly threat­en­ing.

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