January Garden Notes

Christmas is now a distant memory and we all want to enjoy some lovely summer weather. If

The reward for all that work!

The reward for all that work!

you looked after your garden during the spring you should now be able to ease off and enjoy it. The weeds should stop growing but there will be plants that need watering, flowers to deadhead and hopefully fruit and vegetables to harvest and enjoy. Nothing tastes so good as freshly picked produce even if it is rather an odd shape! Relax, pat yourselves on the back and enjoy your summer garden!

Do you need another New Years’ Resolution? If so, try keeping a garden diary. If you record what you plant and note your successes and failures, flowering times, harvest times and amounts, you may find you can use this info to increase your successes over the years. It does not always work as each year the weather is different so it is impossible to predict exact harvest times but over the years you can work out the best times for planting and when not to bother. The info in these notes has been gleaned from my diaries over the last six years.

Jobs to do in my Ocean Grove garden this month:

Developing Butternut pumpkin

Developing Butternut pumpkin

  • Keep a good watch on the apricots and nectarines. Harvest them as soon as they start to soften, hopefully before the birds and possums discover them.
  • Check the zucchinis and pumpkins early every morning. Assist with fertilisation if bees are in short supply. Harvest the fruit before it grows too large.
  • Apply weekly Seasol to the vegetables and citrus trees.
  • Apply weekly Powerfeed to the vegetables that are not yet being harvested such as lettuces, beans and corn.
  • Start broccoli and kale seedlings and keep in a cool spot.
  • Remove the flowers from the roses, aggies and daisies as they finish flowering.
  • Keep up the watering. Give the new trees, citrus and shrubs a good soak twice a week. Soak any pots that have dried out in a deep bucket.

Learners Corner

Italian tomato - nearly ripe

Italian tomato – nearly ripe

If you worked hard in the garden through the spring you should be getting rewarded with some produce by now. Don’t forget to check your plants regularly. They will need watering especially during the hot dry days. Regular doses of Seasol will help keep them healthy.

It is normal for plants such as tomatoes, zucchinis and cucumbers to wilt during the heat of the day. A good watering later in the day should see them looking strong and healthy again in the morning. Don’t forget to

Zucchini ready to pick 2 days ago

Zucchini ready to pick 2 days ago

remove zucchini and cucumber fruit before they get too large. If is a good idea to pick tomatoes once they have started to colour, as they can get sunburn on really hot days. They will continue to ripen on a plate indoors.

If you are going away on holiday, be sure to ask a friend to water your plants for you while you are away. Most people are happy to do this especially if they can take home some tasty fruit or veg.

Now is not an easy time to get new plants started but you can plan for the Autumn planting by removing plants that have died or stopped producing. If you keep the bare soil covered with straw or mulch, it should be in good condition when the autumn comes.

For the Experienced Gardener

One of the 5 coloured silverbeet

One of the 5 coloured silverbeet

Now is the time to start seeds for planting outside in the autumn. There are interesting varieties of broccoli and silverbeet that are available as seed but hard to find as seedlings. They can be started in seed trays and kept in a cool spot inside the house, such as the laundry or bathroom. If you cover the seed tray with a newspaper they should not need watering until they start to emerge. Don’t forget to check daily as they should not take long if the weather is warm. When they have their first set of real leaves they can be potted up and placed outside in a spot that is shaded during the heat of the day.

On those few cold windy days it is worth sitting down to plan your planting for the cooler months. As we do not get frosts in Ocean Grove

Peppers - members of the same family as tomatoes

Peppers – members of the same family as tomatoes

we can grow all sorts of veg and herbs through the winter but most will need to be in the ground before the cold weather sets in. Plan to rotate your crops so that plants of the same family are not grown repeatedly in the same spots. This applies particularly to plants of the cabbage family (broccoli, rocket, kale etc.), the tomato family (peppers, potatoes, eggplant) and pulses (peas & beans).

If you received a soil ph test kit for Christmas, now is a good time to use it as you have time to make any adjustments to the chemistry of your soil well before re-planting. The soil in my garden is somewhat alkaline mainly due to us adding mushroom mulch to the garden beds. Some chicken manure is also highly alkaline. Homemade compost tends to be acidic so adding it to the soil gradually lowers the ph. If the soil is acidic, this is easily rectified by adding lime. Some plants are happy in alkaline soils whereas others prefer acidic soils so you may prefer to research this and match you choice of plants to you local soil.

Seeds to sow this month

Lettuce growing in a cool part of the garden

Lettuce growing in a cool part of the garden

Broccoli, cabbage, kale, leeks, lettuce, silverbeet, spring onions

Seedlings to plant out this month

Lettuce (shaded area)

The War Zone

Keep a watch out for aphids and the tiny white flies. With a bit of luck the ladybirds have been breeding and will take care of them. Otherwise a good hosing down of the foliage when you are watering will help to keep the pests under control.

Rat damage overnight

Rat damage overnight

Mice and rats can be a problem this time of the year. Two years ago rats ate their way through our tomato crop in a few days. They are hard to eradicate so try not to attract them. Cleaning up after barbecues makes a huge difference. We have had them in our compost bin even though we do not put in meat or fish. I have found that adding manure on top of the kitchen fruit & veg scraps then garden waste or straw followed by a good watering has kept them away.

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