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Canberra Today 4°/7° | Monday, October 25, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Warm soil means a busy, busy time in the garden

A polyanthus pot display. Photo: Jackie Warburton

The soil has warmed and planting of most things into the ground can now be done. It’s a busy, busy time in the garden says columnist JACKIE WARBURTON.

Jackie Warburton.

When planting, make sure the soil is of good quality and has good drainage. Healthy soil equals healthy plants. If the soil is hard, looks boggy and feels heavy then its more than likely Canberra’s typical clay soil. 

Some additives such as clay breakers can be added to the soil so the plants will grow well. There are powder forms and liquid forms of clay-breaker products on the market. I prefer the latter as it is quicker acting. Clay breaker can be added to the hole before planting a new plant or sprinkled around the garden and watered in. 

Clay breaker is calcium and it improves soil structure and boosts root and plant growth. It doesn’t change the Ph of the soils and is useful for natives as well. 

SOME of the winter-flowering bulbs have finished and are looking scrappy at the moment. A light fertilise as the leaves are dying back can be done now and this will aid in good flowering for next season. 

Try to hold back on cutting any leaves back until at least six weeks after flowering has finished. 

LEPTOSPERMUMS (tea tree) are coming into flower and bud. It’s a really good plant for an area that is a little boggy or wet in the garden. Leptospermums are large shrubs up to five metres tall and as small as 50cm tall.

They are a tough plant and come in many flowering colours from pink to purple to white and every shade in-between. A resilient shrub, it has small leaves and is a terrific habitat plant for small birds.

One of my favourites is Leptospermum “Mesmer Eyes” and a locally bred variety to try is Leptospermum morrisonii “Burgundy”, which grows about three metres high to one and a half metres wide. It has beautiful burgundy foliage with white flowers in the summer and would contrast well in any garden. Fertilise with native organic fertiliser and water well after application. 

Clematis armandii planted on the fence of a nursery in Weston Park. Photo: Jackie Warburton

AS soon as apples have finished flowering and the bees have pollinated the flowers for fruiting, it’s important to net the tree with fly netting to prevent codling moths from entering the fruit and spoiling them. 

Other alternatives that can be used for trying to get rid of codling moths are to hang moth traps in the tree and look at websites that sell biological wasps that are predatory insects that target the codling moth. 

NOW’S a good time to feed citrus trees and remove old fruit so the tree will put its energy into the new flowers. 

This month I have used sheep manure around my citrus trees to give them a boost and covered them with straw mulch. 

It’s also a good time to give the trees a good spray with a horticultural oil on the bark and all over the leaves. This will go a long way to combating bronze – orange bugs in summer. Be sure to keep the water up to citrus that is flowering and trying to produce fruit as the weather warms. 

WITH very little chance of frost, tomatoes can go into the ground provided they can be protected at night with a little shelter. 

If they grow fast enough, there might be some tomatoes for the Christmas table. Tomatoes need at least six hours of direct sunlight to form fruit and there are so many varieties to choose from at the nursery.

Have a look at what tomatoes you prefer, a tomato to slice or cherry tomatoes for salads, red, orange or black ones. 

They will need a good trellis or structure to hold them off the ground and there are some new varieties that are suitable for hanging baskets such as grape tomatoes. 

There is nothing better than eating a warm, picked, home-grown tomato.

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Jackie Warburton

Jackie Warburton

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