Spring has definitely sprung – what joy – and winter is over. Gardens everywhere are bursting with spring vigour, new growth and colour. It’s an exciting time!
Here’s something great for the kids to get them interested in how plants grow. Find a sweet potato tuber with some obvious ‘eyes’ or sprouting points. Slice off the end where the eyes are and place this suspended over a jar of water, using toothpicks to hang the sweet potato, with the lower part just sitting in the water. Place on a bright windowsill spot and watch the tuber come to life! In a week or so shoots will appear. When they’re about 10cm long, slice them off at the base with a bit of tuber, and plant in the ground or large pot and in the months to come, some edible tubers will develop.
It should be warm enough now to plant bean seeds in the ground – the climbing or bush varieties. Lots of sun and well-composted soil is best. Protect young emerging shoots by placing cut down plastic bottles over them. Climbing beans obviously need stakes but bush beans like some short twiggy sticks to grow through and help keep the beans off the ground.
Give all roses a jolly good feed of Sudden Impact For Roses every six to eight weeks right through until mid autumn, as it really encourages vigorous, healthy growth.
As Australian native shrubs finish flowering, give them a prune to thicken up and stay bushy, and feed with an organic pelletised fertiliser. You’ll get more flowers next winter/spring that way. Make sure these plants are cared for – it’s an absolute myth that Australian native gardens require minimal care.
The entire garden can now have a soil revamp. That mean digging all the existing mulch into the soil. Scatter a soil wetting agent on the soil surface if needed as it prevents water run off. Then use an organic pelletised general-purpose fertiliser around all garden plants, ending with a thick mulch of sugar cane or lucerne.
There’ll be plenty of tomato seedlings available in your local garden centre right now. The smaller fruiting varieties generally seem to be less disease prone, and you should get good crops of cherry-sized fruit by the end of the year if you plant advanced seedlings now. Tomatoes are gross feeders so really need plenty of organic fertiliser every few weeks. They’re fine grown in a large tub – only one plant per 40 cm diameter pot. Use a premium organic potting mix, placing the pot in a very sunny spot and watering regularly.
Three vegetable plants that look great in a flower garden are rainbow chard, sweet capsicum and egglants. All have attractive foliage and / or fruit colouring. You don’t need a dedicated veggie patch to grow your own.
Gardenias will probably come out of winter looking a bit wan, with yellowing foliage. Apart from a really good feed, treat the soil with Magnesium Sulphate.
Royal Botanic Gardens
From all reports the new Calyx building at the Royal Botanic Gardens is absolutely brilliant, with a fantastic vertical plant wall. Built to coincide with the 200th birthday of the gardens, it’s on my ‘to do’ list as soon as possible. When I’ve been, I’ll give you the low down on it.
Happy spring gardening.