What’s Happening in Your Garden

July 2017 Meeting

  • Many gardens are suffering after the recent unusually severe frosts.
  • The stalks of rhubarb that has been frost-damaged should not be eaten if the stalks are limp.
  • It’s been a good year for mosses.

April 2017 Meeting

Joy Lewellin gave an update on Bob Shelden and his health. We wish Bob all the very best.

In the meantime Club Members carried out their own questions and answers.

  1. Do you cut the flowers off rhubarb and if the leaves are poisonous can they be placed in the compost??
  2. Yes, cut the flowers off and yes, the leaves can be placed in the compost pile.
  3. When do you eat Persimmons??
  4. 2 types of Persimmons – Astringent and Non-astringent. The astringent type are the ones eaten very ripe, non-astringent are firm and more like eating an apple. For more information Google Persimmons.

Now is the time to plant broad beans, silver beet, broccoli, kale and sweet peas. Also cut back rampant Lilly-pilly.

Rhododendrons and Camellias can be cut back very hard to get rid of old and very woody growth, cut on an angle to prevent rain collecting on new cut.

March 2017 Meeting

With Bob Shelden not available, Kevin Hince conducted questions and answers:-

Now is the time to plant Garlic, Sweet Peas and Broad Beans. How to age horse manure???

You need to keep moist with plenty of aeration and to keep turning to promote the heat in the pile.

Graham Hughes offered Kangaroo Paw Plants at the meeting and to also come and dig out more at his home which is at: 8 Birrarrung Rise, Yarra Junction.

February 2017 Meeting

Presented by Bob Shelden

  • Agapanthus are forming seed heads now. These should be removed before the seeds ripen, as agapanthus has weed potential in the Upper Yarra Valley.
  • Acanthus clumps can now be cut down to the base and will re-sprout in spring.
  • Iris can be lifted and divided (do this every three years). Cut the leaves into a fan and replant the rhizomes about 300mm apart onto soil with lots of old manure. Don’t bury the rhizomes, just sit them on the surface, supported if necessary until the new roots form.
  • Wisteria is having a second flower flush at present. Snip off the long shoots before they harden off.
  • It’s time to sow carrots. Choose a spot that has previously grown a leaf crop, which will have taken excess nitrogen from the soil. Do not add nitrogenous fertilizer, which will cause the carrots to fork. Dig over the soil, sow the carrot seed about 20mm deep, then cover with soil that doesn’t cake, e.g. cheap potting mix. Keep the bed moist while the seed is germinating, by covering the seed with a light layer of grass clippings or with an old fence paling. When the seedlings are growing nicely, thin them out to about 50 mm apart, then thin again to about 100 mm apart when they are 15 cm high. They will be mature about 14 weeks after sowing but can be eaten earlier if liked. If they become over-mature they will be woody.

November 2016 Meeting

Bob Shelden reported about the changeable weather and the effects it is having on our new plants and seedlings. On the very hot days plants suffer burn off and wilting in 2-3 hours because the roots can’t supply the moisture to the plant. Pot plants need to be hardened off in some sun and then shade on extreme days of heat. The surface of the leaf cells lie flat in the shade, they will then turn up in sunshine to absorb less energy. Give plants a fortnight to harden off, so in very hot weather protect your plants in shade or inside.

Now is the time to plant zucchinis, cucumbers and pumpkins with lots of compost and animal manure in the bottom of the hole when planting. Create mounds and plant 3-4 seedlings on top with a moat around the base; plant approx. 900mm apart.

September 2016 Meeting

Bob thanked all those members who helped move 36cubic metres of mulch at his home in miserable conditions in readiness for the Open Gardens.

Now is a good time to plant onions and shallots, remember to use compost and mulch well.

Cut the seed heads off daffodils and jonquils but leave the leaves until dried and brown before cutting off. Sow cosmos and zinnia seeds or any short lived annuals over the top to protect bulbs from hot dry weather in summer. Top with more mulch.

Bob suggested Spirea or May bushes for the garden – a more or less forgotten shrub.

August 2016 Meeting

Bob Shelden advised that he had visited the recent Cacti and Succulents show and commented on how much he enjoyed it.

Planting potatoes:

  • Dig in green manure crops, compost or mushroom compost.
  • Mushroom compost good for alkaline loving plants such as vegetables but do not use for acid lovers such as azaleas and rhododendrons.
  • Planting potatoes using the no dig approach. Choose a well-drained sunny position clear of weeds, place seed potatoes in a 30cm grid pattern and cover with 5ocm of good fresh straw, sprinkle blood and bone at a rate of a coffee cup per m2 then cover with plenty of animal manure then cove with compost and/or mulch (inhibit sunlight getting through to the potatoes) and water in well. When shoots appear through the straw pack more straw around the shoots. The largest of the new crop could be harvested at Christmas. Do not use mushroom compost as potatoes do not like alkaline conditions.       When all of the crop is finished reuse the straw, scratch a hole in the straw and plant pumpkin and cucumbers.       Snails could be a problem.

What else to plant now:

Artichokes Asparagus crowns Broad beans
Beetroot Cabbage Too early for Carrots
Horse Radish Leeks Parsley
Climbing Peas Potatoes Spinach
Kale Brussel Sprouts Endive
Lettuce Silver Beet Onions

July 2016 Meeting

Broad Beans – These can still be planted. A pinch of sulphate of potash is helpful to encourage bean production.

Wood Ash – This contains valuable nutrients if used freshly cooled. Should be scattered lightly and raked into the surface. Useful in the vegetable patch as ash is alkaline.

Rhubarb – Growing vigorously now, clean up plant by pulling away limp and yellowing stems. Do not eat stems until at least 3 days following frost as the poison in the leaves migrates to the stem in frost. If transplanting rhubarb prepare the soil with animal manures and blood and bone and straw mulch the plant.

Frost – If a plant suffers frost damage leave in place and wait until all frosts are finished.

Deciduous Shrub Cuttings – Bob demonstrated a number of techniques on how to select and prepare cuttings that can now be potted up.

June 2016 Meeting

Bob Shelden’s topic for the evening was the explanation of what the various number and symbols meant on the side of a bag of fertiliser.

The example Bob chose was a common fertiliser showing the numbers 7-1.7-9. Bob went on to explain that these numbers signified the ratio of major fertiliser chemicals involved. 7 represented nitrogen, 1.7 was phosphorus and 9 was for potassium. The nitrogen would provide leaf growth, phosphorus helps in root growth and potassium for cell structure.

Nitrogen, while easy to use, is easily lost and can need replacement regularly. Nitrogen encourages green growth and is beneficial for leaf vegetables.

Most bags of fertiliser will state that there are also trace elements included. It was suggested that soils in the Yarra Valley have sufficient trace elements for this not to be a problem.

May 2016 Meeting

In response to a member’s suggestion, Bob Shelden gave a 5-minute talk about what’s happening in our gardens this month, and what tasks need to be done. These brief talks will be a feature of our monthly meetings from now on. Main points:

  • Dahlias are entering their dormant period. The gardening books say not to lift them yet, but it can be done if some soil is left attached to the tubers. Put the tubers under a tree and surround them with snail bait. After 4-6 weeks the stem will have dried out. Cut the stem down to about 100 mm, being very careful not to damage junction of the stem with the tuber, as this is the growing point. Divide and replant in spring.
  • Perennials can be lifted and divided, but there’s no rush. Cut and pot-up the outer youngest shoots, not the crown. Many perennials can be dwarfed by planting them on top of a bit of tin so that the roots can’t get down.
  • Gladioli can be lifted now. Cut off top growth and throw it away: this is where thrips overwinter. Store the bulbs in a wire basket and dust with derris dust.
  • Fruit trees and blossom trees can be sprayed with a copper oxychloride spray against leaf curl, rot and shot-hole, all fungal diseases. Burn the fallen leaves from these trees (don’t compost them) as they will harbor fungal spores. Add white oil to the spray mix to help the spray to stick, and spray all the wood on the tree.
  • Spinach grows best in the cold, so sow it now, about 2 cm deep. It will germinate within 14 days. Thin the seedlings to about 10 cm apart (thinnings can be replanted) and pack straw around the plants to prevent grit getting into the leaves. If you miss this window of opportunity, you can sow seeds again in August. Any sowings after August will result in plants bolting to seed.
  • Roses: dig holes now and prepare the soil for any new roses. Do this before you buy the rose. Beware of making a ‘well’ in heavy clay soils, as roses don’t like wet feet. Don’t add fertilizer. When your new rose arrives, plant it immediately.

April 2016 Meeting

Bob spoke on a wide range of matters relating to what is presently happening in the garden.

Autumn Leaves

Best time to see what colour of autumn leaves could expect is to visit nurseries now.

Don’t burn fallen leaves, collect then and compost with the addition of blood and bone and a small amount of garden lime. When composted us the compost on the garden.

Fruit Trees

Time to spread dolomite lime around apples, pears nectarines etc. 1 Kg per tree. To help prevent curly leave it was suggested that trees be sprayed with a copper based fungicide. Another suggestion was to grow garlic at the base of the tree.

Aphid on citrus can be controlled with soap spray with a mix of pyrethrum.

Bulbs

In general plant bulb twice the height of the bulb. For cut flowers plant deeper.

Tulip bulbs should be put in the crisper of the fringe now.

Bulbs can be transplanted as long as all the surrounding dirt is taken with the bulb.

Fertilising

Good time to do this but apply around the drip line. Use a complete fertiliser on most plants/trees etc, but go easy on native plants. Chook poo no good for azaleas and rhododendrons.

Vegetables

You can now plant broad beans, leeks, white onions, brassicas, peas and beans. Good time to plant a green crop; dig this in before winter.

Carrots and parsnips must be planted deeply dug soil (two shovel heads deep. Do not fertilise the ground as this causes forking.

Flowers

Better to sow flower seeds in pots then plant out when well established.

Lawns

Most lawns require some form of renovation over winter, either top dressing and or fertilising.

One thought on “What’s Happening in Your Garden

  1. Pingback: September 2016 Meeting Guest Speaker Keith | Upper Yarra Valley Garden Club Inc

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