GARDEN DEVA SUMMER NEWSLETTER 2018/19
While spring is the season of frenetic activity in the garden, summer in Oz heralds lazy days, barbecues, trips to the beach and holidays.
It is time to slow down, and of course, do a bit of pottering but avoid major plantings and keep gardening to maintaining your vegie patch and pots. Read some magazines, put some garden books on the Christmas list and maybe consider some new design layouts, plants and projects for autumn.
2018 has been a busy and enjoyable year for Garden Deva with three designs open to the public in October and November. If you think your garden is Open Garden material and would like to be considered for a garden open, please send me some photos!
The Open Garden Scheme is a wonderful initiative which inspires, is fun, supports charity, and fosters the meeting of like-minded people, all for a measly $6-10.
At the garden open, there are often home made biscuits, cakes, tea and coffee and often plants and other goodies for sale. Visit opengardenwestcoast for more info.
MORE TREES PLEASE
In summer, decent sized shade trees can make the difference between loving spending time in the garden or being surgically attached to the air conditioner inside.
Ensure paved areas are shaded as much as possible with trees, pergolas or shade-sails to avoid radiant heat amping up the temperature inside the house. There are plenty of beautiful trees to choose from which won’t invade your sewer pipes or pull up your pavers.
WATER BOWLS If you are hankering for a project over summer, why not create some beauty and interest with a simple pond or water feature? Self-contained bowls or pots are SO easy to make and relatively inexpensive. They also can be very soothing for the nervous system. I find it very relaxing to have a cuppa or a drink and while away the hours watching my tadpoles and fish gallivant around the pond garden I’ve made for them. Bliss!
Planning, creating and maintaining a (child safe) pond or water garden is also an ideal way to get the kids thinking about nature early in life and help to teach them about how a natural ecosystem works. Hopefully it will encourages them to continue their interest in the environment throughout adulthood which is the gift which keeps on giving both for them and the planet.
If sited out of the wind (to avoid splash out) and not too enormous, contrary to popular belief, water features require little maintenance. Even pumps are optional. Did your grandparents have a pond when you were a kid? If so, did they have a pump? Probably not!
WHAT ABOUT MOZZIES?
Unfortunately in Australia, mosquitoes are abundant which means unless you have a pump running 24/7, you will need fish. Fish, either exotic or native, have the added bonus of bringing the pond to life and making it interesting. Frogs may also be introduced, however the tadpoles will not eat mosquito larvae, although adult frogs will eat mosquitoes as will birds, spiders, damsel and dragonflies.
Incidentally, if your alfresco area is plagued with mosquitoes despite your best efforts to eradicate their breeding sources, try a good quality lavender essential oil on the skin. (Do a patch test first if you have sensitive skin.) For years I have applied neat lavender oil on my arms and neck every night to deter any mosquitos from feeding on me. It works well.
Back to ponds… to pretty up your pond and provide beauty, and habitat and protection for the fish and taddies, you need plants. There is an enormous variety of water plants including waterlilies, irises, thalia, Cyperus, Calocasia, native sedges, ribbon grass, water ferns….
Water lilies are stunning and come in a range of colours from white, yellow, purple red pink and orange. There are even scented water lilies which open at night and are perfect for entertaining.
Waterlilies can blooms for up to 9 months, depending on the varieties you have chosen. What’s not to like?
There are even miniature waterlilies which are the size of a 50c piece for those with tiny containers. A wonderful place to go and see them, particularly during summer is Woodvale Fish and lily farm. www.woodvalefishandlilyfarm.com.au
If you don’t fancy a trek up to Woodvale or live elsewhere in Australia, they also deliver their waterlilies and other plants all over the country. I have just treated myself to a hardy red and a tropical purple waterlily.
TOP TIP from Gardening Australia magazine:
Repurpose the caps of softdrink bottles as pot feet to increase root aeration for small and medium pots. They are quite strong.
For those of you lucky enough to own a pool, please make sure you use your pool cover. Did you know that, depending on the size and the temperature, a pool can evaporate up to 10 000 litres over summer? That’s a rainwater tank’s worth which could have watered your modest vegie patch over summer! Apart from being water-wise, it can save up to 70% of pool chemicals evaporating which costs you and the environment more.
Humid conditions can lead to increased fungal problems; watch out for powdery mildew in particular. It can be treated very early on (or even prevented) by a foliar spray of 10% milk spray or Eco-fungicide or Eco-rose from Organic Crop Protectants. Spray under and over the leaves and repeat weekly and after rain.
Follow up with a compost or worm juice tea or Neutrog’s GoGo juice fertiliser every week.
TOMATO POTATO PSYLLID
TPP is a serious new pest which is a major threat to commercial growers, the horticultural industry and home gardens.
It affects a number of crops including tomatoes, potatoes, capsicums, eggplant, chilli, sweet potatoes. Check out: Tomato potato psyllid for identification and treatments.
FISH AND VEGIES – THE GRAND EXPERIMENT.
I have decided to branching out and try growing organic vegies aquaponically and vertically. It is exciting but daunting, as I am a complete beginner and it is much like learning a new language.
The pigmy perch fish I intend to use will not be for eating, but merely to fertilise my crop and keep the mozzies away.
I will be using a small amount of seaweed fertiliser and worm juice in addition to the fish waste. Anyone out there who is interested in either hydroponics or aquaponics, I highly recommend speaking to Travis from Greenfingers Hydroponics in Midland (no website, Facebook only). He is an expert on anything to do with hydro and aquaponics, and answers my incessant questions with the patience of a saint. I will do some posts on Instagram and Facebook when it’s up and running. Left is the BEFORE pic.
ADVANTAGES of AQUAPONICS:
1. Plants grow ridiculously fast.
2. It saves water. Yes, it’s true - the water goes directly to the roots with no wastage (other than evaporation, like land grown plants).
3. Plants usually grown in shade can take more sun (but be realistic, it gets pretty hot in Perth! No small container likes being exposed to 38C without shade),
4. Fish – eat (personally I just can’t do it, seems like eating your chooks!) or use as beauty and mozzie larvae hunters.
HOT HOT HOT The mercury is climbing and like us, the plants are feeling the heat. Here’s 5 things you can do to see your garden survive and thrive throughout summer:
1. Take a leaf from the tree growers’ book and spray your trees with Yates Droughtshield (formerly Stressguard). This makes an enormous difference to leaf burn and moisture loss. Crepe myrtles and avocoados in particular appreciate a spray or 2 throughout the warmer months.
2. Minimise your edible garden to a manageable amount this season and always use 40% (preferably white) shadecloth over your vegies. You can double over the fruit fly vegie nets, as these are 20%.
3. Keep your soil cool and retain moisture by adding a thick 6-8cm layer of chunky tree pruning mulch, available from your council or tree loppers. Straw, lucerne mulch or sheep manure can be a thin underneath layer if you want to add more nuturients. A mix of chunky and fine particles, like tree prunings acts as an insulating barrier yet allows water to penetrate through.
4. Early morning irrigation – avoid watering with the sun overhead as it can burn wet plants. If you are hand watering, grab a cuppa and wander around the garden with the watering can or hose. Hand watering takes time but allows you to really observe your garden, noting pests, fruit, flowers, if plants need a prune, etc.
5. Potted plants – double pot them (ie plastic pot inside cover pot) and move the smaller more vulnerable ones out of direct sunlight. Temporarily relocate them to a shady area or verandah.
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