Dahlias come in just about every colour, shape and size you can imagine, so there’s sure to be one that suits your taste, says Mary Lovell-smith.
EDIBLES • Sow beans if the soil has warmed up enough. Should it be too cold they can take up to a fortnight to germinate – and may rot in the interim. In warm conditions they should only take four days to germinate. • Being vigorous growers, beans need rich soil, so dig in some compost or well-rotted manure ahead of planting. • Dwarf beans should be sown about 5cm deep and 10cm apart (or a little closer and thin to this). Runner beans need something to climb up, such as a fence or wigwam of bamboo or straight branches. Ultimately, the optimum number of plants per stick is two. • An old but effective trick is to dig a shallow trench along the side of the bean row which enables watering without wetting the leaves and risking foliar diseases. • While most vegetables prefer the sun, if it’s in short supply in your garden, there are some that don’t mind a bit of shade – namely, salad and leafy greens (Asian greens, lettuce, rocket, silverbeet and spinach); brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts); root vegetables such as beetroot, carrot, radish, swede and turnips; onions (chives, garlic and shallots); and beans and peas. • Herbs that tolerate shade include coriander, dill, mint and parsley. Shirley poppies and snapdragons; and the sweetest fragranced night-scented stock. • Or try a wildflower mix. They are always pretty
and so easy to grow. • Keep new lawns damp – dryness is fatal to
young grass. • Continue planting gladioli for a long summer
flowering period. • Get inspired by going on a garden tour or to a
festival – November is the month for them.
DAHLIAS • Coming in a vast range of colours, shapes and sizes, there is pretty much a dahlia for every taste. Plant them about 7cm deep, 30cm apart in full sun. They do best in rich, well-drained soil but are quite tolerant of a variety of soil types. • Give them a headstart by incorporating plenty of compost or well-rotted manure into the soil before planting, keep well-watered and feed with a potash-rich fertiliser once flowers appear. • Some dahlias may need staking; others do best
if encouraged to bushiness – pinch out some shoots. • They will not flower as well if overfed with a nitrogen-rich fertiliser, or if they do not get enough sun or water.