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Canberra Today 14°/16° | Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Let’s get out and right into the garden work  

Flowering wisteria in Jackie’s garden. Photo: Jackie Warburton

With longer days and daylight saving upon us, gardening writer JACKIE WARBURTON says there’s more time to spend in the garden after work and to cook (and eat) outdoors. 

Jackie Warburton.

MAGPIE season is in full swing, and all types of birds are nesting their young. It’s important not to feed wildlife too much, so they don’t then become too dependent on us as a food source. 

Planting specific plants such as nectar-flowering shrubs and spiky shrubs is a way of creating food and protection for small birds from predators. Having a water dish in the garden for the birds is also a good way to attract birdlife to the garden. Try to keep water sources out of full sun and keep the dish or bird bath clean. 

OCTOBER is one of the busiest times for the open gardens calendar for many charities. Unfortunately, a lot of these events have been cancelled due to covid. 

Gardens of this calibre take a lot of time and preparation to get organised and can take years to bring together. When we are able, let’s support open gardens. It’s a good opportunity to have a look and see what other people have grown in our climate and gather ideas for your own garden. It’s always inspiring to hear the stories and journeys from other people’s gardens. 

AS the weather warms the mosquitoes come out. There are many tried and tested methods of getting rid of these pests. To keep them at bay, plant Mediterranean herbs such as oregano, mint, thyme, garlic, peppermint and plants that have aromatic oils in their leaves around your outdoor space. Move any water sources from close by and try to interrupt the breeding cycle of mosquitoes. 

IF starting a veggie patch in your garden, ensure you have the space for moving groups of vegetables of the same family around. This is called crop rotation. This method of vegetable growing is also designed to minimise pests and diseases building up in the garden and it’s also a long-term way of controlling pests organically. 

A four-year crop rotation is a good start for a family to eat from, four garden beds with plant families in each – solanaceae, legumes, brassicas and root vegetables.

All these vegetable groups need different requirements to successfully grow, and this is the importance of crop rotation. Growing flowers around vegetables is also an important part of the biodiversity we are trying to create. 

Beneficial insects and bees are needed for vegetables to grow. The bees pollinate most fruit and vegetables and are a necessity in all gardens. 

There are many local garden club websites offering advice for what to sow and grow. Growing vegetables is very satisfying and a great introduction to gardening. 

MY wisteria will be out in full display this week and next. Wisterias are not suitable for a small space and are high maintenance. I train mine really hard and it’s planted at least four metres from the house. It is time consuming to prune in winter and a light trim in summer is also needed to keep it under control. 

The cascades of blue or white flowers are really pretty to see when grown in the right spot and are very popular. There are two main species grown in Canberra and the most common is Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) and the other is Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda). Both have their merits but researching the right one for the right spot is the key. They are deciduous and lose their leaves in winter and need good drainage to grow well. 

I AM looking forward to my Paulownia tomentosa flowering for the first time. I read it can take many years to flower and had worried I’d planted it too close to the chook run and it was getting too much nitrogen. Hopefully, we don’t get any more frosts from here to see the flowers this year.

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Jackie Warburton

Jackie Warburton

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