Out­door di­ary Septem­ber’s check­list

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Carol Buck­nell. Il­lus­tra­tions by Pippa Fay.

+ Septem­ber is of­fi­cially the start of spring and as our gar­dens kick into ac­tion, so must we. Start with an easy task such as plant­ing up pots, troughs or hang­ing bas­kets with pretty flow­er­ing an­nu­als. It’s a great way to lift the gar­den out of its win­ter dol­drums. Alyssum is a great bee at­trac­tant, as is cal­en­dula. Other easy-care an­nu­als are busy lizzie (im­pa­tiens), di­anthus, gera­nium, lo­belia, nas­tur­tium, neme­sia, pansy, petu­nia, sweet peas and zin­nia.

+ Rather than buy seedlings you can of­ten re­plant self-sown seedlings that pop up in the gar­den, whether it’s yours or a friend’s.

+Plants that self-seed eas­ily in­clude aqui­le­gia, alyssum, corn­flow­ers, di­etes, fox­gloves, helle­borus, lo­belia and pan­sies. Care­fully dig them out when they’ve got a cou­ple of sets of leaves and re­plant in groups to fill up bare ar­eas.

+ School fairs and gar­den clubs are an­other good op­tion for low-cost plant seedlings or try on­line plant-swap sites such as flor­agora.kiwi or plantres­cue.co.nz.

+ If your spring bulbs have fin­ished flow­er­ing give them one last feed to make sure they have plenty of nour­ish­ment for next year’s blooms. Move pot­ted spring bulbs out of sight.

+ Af­ter their long win­ter rest most plants need a good feed in spring to set them up for all that new growth. Sprin­kle com­post, an­i­mal ma­nure such as sheep pel­lets or sea­weed along with some blood and bone around the root zone of trees, shrubs and peren­ni­als. Add a gen­eral sol­u­ble fer­tiliser such as Yates Thrive.

+ Treat con­tainer plants to sol­u­ble fer­tiliser, too. If your plant has been in its pot for a while, re­move some of the top layer of pot­ting mix (with­out dis­turb­ing roots) and add new mix.

+ Some plants need a spe­cific type of food. Rhodo­den­drons, aza­leas and camel­lias, for in­stance, grow bet­ter in more acidic soils so buy­ing a fer­tiliser de­signed for those plants is best.

+ Lawns need to be fed well in spring to en­sure lush grass with few weeds. They like lots of ni­tro­gen (as do leafy greens). Choose a spe­cific food such as Tui Lawn fer­tiliser and ap­ply in spring, early sum­mer and au­tumn.

+ Kids love sun­flow­ers and the seeds are easy for lit­tlies to han­dle. At this time of year it is best to sow in con­tain­ers first. Sow two seeds and take out the weak­est seedling once they’ve ger­mi­nated. Plant out in the gar­den when the seedling is 12-15cm tall.

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