Spring is the time of the year when it’s possible for even supposed ‘Brown Thumbs’ to create a lovely garden. The majority of plants have come out of their winter slumber and are rollicking away with mild sunny days and the occasional bout of rain. Perfect growing weather.
Unfortunately, these perfect conditions do not distinguish between wanted plants and unwanted ones. A philosophical soul once said ‘weeds are just a plant in the wrong place’. So true.
Here are some non-toxic, non-glyphosate options to keep on top of the weeds which, if left to seed, particularly this time of year, can really take over your garden:
1. DIY salt and vinegar - mix 1L cheap white vinegar to 1 cup salt and add 2 drops of liquid detergent. Warm up vinegar if salt doesn’t dissolve easily. Shake well then spray on your weeds. Pick a warm day if possible with no rain forecast.
2. Boiling water from kettle or weed steamer or gas weed burners (available online or from places like Mitre 10). Unfortunately burning or boiling doesn’t work on persistent leaves like couch grass.
3. Slasher is a surprisingly effective weedicide containing perlagonic acid (from geraniums).
4. Suffocate them with overlapped wet cardboard/newspaper topped with 30cmH coarse and fine mixed mulch, such as recycled tree prunings.
5. Hand weed with a spiked hand weeding tool. This can be very meditative…..
WHAT’S EATING MY PLANTS?
It’s rather depressing when your lovingly tended plants have been decimated by hungry bugs. The culprits are likely to be snails, slugs, snails or caterpillars; either the hairy blacks or the white cabbage moths.
What to do? For snails slugs and slaters, try Multiguard by Multicrop.
POISON: - either spray regularly with Dipel or dust with DE Diatomaceous Earth (the horticultural variety, not the pool one).
DETER: Cabbage moth decoys can also be quite effective. Diggers Club sell them or make your own with florist wire and bread tags. I have noticed that the decoys tend to deter them from laying eggs but not feeding on nectar, so you will probably still see them flying around but maybe not having as many babies.
GET FIT WITH BADMINTON: Use an old badminton racquet to swat them. Okay, it’s not very compassionate but at least it’s a quick death rather than a slow poisonous end from a pesticide spray, natural or not.
COVER: the kindest option is to net your vegies so they can’t access them. It looks a bit unsightly but many don’t care about that. However,it may raise your neighbours’ ire when they’ve migrated to their place instead.
EASY TO GROW, YEAR ROUND FRAGRANCE
If you love fragrance and don’t suffer hay fever or allergies to scent, try this succession planting for year round scent.
Sweet peas –Stunning flowers, good cut flowers and great presents for friends. Chinese star jasmine – spring – summer. Tough climber, less woody than most with reddish leaves in the cold weather if you have it in a cold-ish place. Can be cloying. Michelia figo – aka port wine magnolia – smells like bubblegum, likes acid soil.
Stephanotis floribunda su- aut – sun/semi shade. Semi succulent leaves make this a water wise plant. Flowers are waxy and good cut flowers in a bowl. Divine scent.
Honey suckle – fast growing, bird attracting, edible nectar. Available in pink/yellow.
Moonflower – a rampant annual climber which opens flowers at dusk. A great one to have around your barbeque area while entertaining guests.
Jasmine sambac – 2-3m shrubby climber – lovely scent from which jasmine tea is made.
Cestrum nocturnum –Lady of the Night – 3m shrub with tiny greenish yellow flowers. The scent is hard to describe but some say is reminiscent of a finely blended expensive perfume.
Tree wise, you can’t wrong with frangipanis and evergreen magnolias (Little Gem, Teddy Bear etc). Also, for something a bit different, stick your nose in a yellow red cap gum flower (Eucalyptus erythrocorys) and smell the cake mix!
Jasmine polyanthum – pink jasmine is a rampant climber best planted in some summer afternoon shade as it can brown off in summer. Looks fabulous with Hardenbergia violacea, native wisteria.
Jonquils, Freesias (note - these have weed potential).
ALL YEAR - Citrus if you have a variety of trees.
Why not grow something a little different in the vegie patch this season? Black cherry tomatoes are delicious, full of anti-oxidants and just as easy to grow as their red siblings. Available as seedlings or pots in your local nursery now.
DESIGN FILE - THE UPRIGHTS
Fllemings have recently released a columnar peach called Crimson Rocket 2.5m-3m x 60cm. Of course I had to have one, despite the lack of room. Luckily pretty much any fruit tree can be grown in a large pot.
Design-wise, if you want to screen out a wall/fence or neighbours and you don’t have much room, there are plenty of edible trees which can do the job for you.
If you choose deciduous trees, which most of them are; then grow a climber on the fence behind them to give you something pretty to look at in winter when the branches of the tree are bare. Hardenbergias (native wisteria), Jasmine polyanthum (winter jasmine), Pandoreas, Kennedia nigricans (black coral pea) and Pyrostegia or Ignea venusta (orange flame vine) are a few trusty favourites which shine in winter.
Ensure the climber is trained along the fence, discouraging its tendrils from climbing up your tree. A climber will rapidly take over a tree, stealing its light in no time.
Some upright fruiting trees available right now at garden centres are:
Peach – Crimson Rocket 3.5mHx60cmW Apple – Ballerina range: Bolero, Flamenco, Polka and Waltz Dita 3.5mHx60cmW Dita
(apples need a pollination partner, peaches don’t)
S Commonly used upright trees to screen are Prunus Crimson Oakville Spires (6mx1.5m) which, due to its dense branch structure, also provides some screening in winter. Capital Bradford Pear 6-8x3m is another popular deciduous tree.
For the edible gardeners:- if you have a reasonably wide path, say 2m along your northern side of your house; try bananas and paw. They will create dappled shade which is often good for late spring and early autumnal hot days when the sun comes through the windows. Plant opposite or away from windows, depending on sun requirements. Always be aware of allowing winter sun to come through as evergreen trees may create a damp and dark feel too near a window in the cold weather.
OPEN GARDENS IS BACK!
Last year, WA decided to start Open Gardens West Coast and 2017 has an abundance of stunning gardens to visit. It’s a great way to meet fellow gardeners, to be inspired and see what’s possible in other people’s gardens as well as the opportunity gorge on morning and afternoon tea while contributing to charity. Win win! For a mere $6 per garden, it’s a fun and inexpensive outing and weekend. Check out: www.opengardenswestcoast.org.
If you are interested in the possibility of opening your own garden, please contact Cherise on 0423 385 568. We are always interested in introducing new gardens to the scheme which meet the criteria.
PEST ID goes digital
Now gardeners can download My Pest Guide Diseases App by the Western Australian Ag Department. Simply take a photo of your diseased or pest ridden plant and you will get a quick response from the experts. Easy!
Alternatively, support your local non hardware selling garden centre and take a leaf of the ailing plant – a trained horticulturalist will be happy to assist you.
Charlie Charcoal is a new product which I briefly touched on last newsletter. I have been trialling it for 3 months now and am very impressed. I now add it to every plant I pot up and new plantings in the ground. Charlie Charcoal is excellent for sandy alkaline areas as it is like a soil conditioner which gently acidifies and enriches soil. www.charliecharcoal.com.au
Available from Greenlife Soil (Midvale), Nibali Stockfoods (Fremantle), Garden Elegance (Subiaco) and Ngoolark nursery (South Fremantle).
DID YOU KNOW: That plums are deep rooted so are perfect for chook pens and they also are not affected by leaf curl like peaches and nectarines?
WHAT’S ON IN SPRING?
The Kings Park Wildflower Festival is on again for the month of September.
Sustainable House Day: Sunday 17 September 2017, 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
If you’re a bit eco-minded and like visiting other people’s houses and gardens, don’t miss this.
It’s exciting that two Garden Deva gardens will be open for this annual event and how handy – they are both in Karrinyup! (Karrinyup Home and Finnerty House) Also visit Chris Ferreira’s inspiring retro fit home and garden in Hamilton Hill.
Have you got a tired old garden which needs a lift? Or are you overwhelmed by a blank canvas?