Plant out, now frosts are finished
Labour Weekend was the big gardening event of the year and with the weather being favourable recently with a mix of rain and sun, let’s hope similar conditions continue into November.
A ‘‘big push’’ over the long weekend is because, historically, there is only a small likelihood of frosts between now and Christmas.
Frost-tender plants such as tomatoes, pumpkins, capsicums, impatiens and such can be planted out from now, and with any luck will not be harmed by a late frost.
Mowing is a good way to start any gardening ritual. A freshly mown lawn transforms the outdoors from shabby to promising and provides a nice pile of lawn clippings that can be used later on as a mulch – but not if you have applied a lawn herbicide to your lawns in the past 18 months.
Lawn weed killers that kill weeds but not the grasses don’t just disappear overnight.
A common one such as Turfix can have residues for about six months.
You do not want to put compost made from herbicide-affected lawn clippings around your roses and tomatoes.
A weed-eater fitted with a disk attachment eliminates those dreadful spools of trimming line that makes weed-eating such a frustrating chore.
The attachment has four easily threaded premium replacement line slots resulting in eight swivelled cutting lines about 12cm long. Because the lines fold away when a solid object is encountered, they do far less damage to trunks of shrubs and trees and last much longer than those frustrating standard trimming lines.
Small weeds recently germinated and up to a few centimetres in height can be cut off just below ground level with a sharp carving knife or by scraping the knife across the soil surface.
Larger weeds can also be treated in the same way by cutting through the root system a couple of centimetres below the soil surface.
Leave the cut weeds lying on the soil, where in sunlight and with microbial action they will break down quickly, feeding the soil life.
When hand-watering with a wand, wet down the soil and pull out weeds growing between plants as you go. Weeds come away more easily in wet soil. Wash the soil off the roots and lay the uprooted weeds on the soil to break down.
This way, daily watering keeps raised gardens and containers moist and progressively weed free.
In cobbled areas where there are cracks or waste areas, use salt.
Salt can be used to kill wandering jew in areas with established trees and shrubs.
Also, I am told, sprays of baking soda (likely at rates of 3 tablespoons per litre of water) will also kill wandering jew.
Gorse can be killed over time with heavy applications of garden lime.
Vinegar and cooking oil can also be used to spray weeds safely.
Tips for grafted fruit trees
For those who have recently bought triple-grafted fruit trees, it can be difficult in the early days of establishment to have all three grafts grow with the same vigour. Often one of two will leap ahead to the detriment of the other which may remain stunted or even die.
The secret is to keep all growing at the same rate till they are well developed.
If you cut back the dominant branches they will just re-branch and become more vigorous.
The key is to increase the growth of the inferior branch and a simple way to achieve this is to spray the lagging branch only, with Vaporgard.
This will allow the leaves to gather more energy from the sun and become stronger.
Another method is to remove a few leaves off the dominant branches, reducing their energy collection from sunlight.
Planting out pointers
If you bought punnets, cell packs and pots of plants for planting out, give them a great hand to establish by spraying the foliage all over with Vaporgard. Then leave for a few hours to dry in a shaded spot.
This reduces moisture loss and takes the stress out of the transplanting.
Then soak the container by plunging into a bucket of nonchlorinated water till it stops bubbling.
This prevents damage to the root system when removing from the container.
Place some Rok Solid, Neem Granules and a few sheep manure pellets into the bottom of the planting hole.
This will help root development and protect roots from soil insect pests as well as feed the plant.
Growing strong: Wally Richards in his garden.