Carrots: home-grown goodness

MIX IT UP: Gardeners should sow their carrots in a different area every year for four or five years, as this can cut down disease risk. Carrots can also be grown in containers that are at least 30cm deep.

MIX IT UP: Gardeners should sow their carrots in a different area every year for four or five years, as this can cut down disease risk. Carrots can also be grown in containers that are at least 30cm deep.

Carrots that are grown in the home garden will have a more intense flavour than those purchased from retail suppliers. Carrots are a very versatile vegetable to grow, being suitable to be eaten both raw and when cooked.

It is a hardy root vegetable that grows well in deep cool soil. The young grass-like plants take about three weeks to appear. Seeds may be sown in rows, or broadcast over the garden. Mixing radish and carrot seeds will indicate where the area sown.

The area selected for sowing carrot seeds should not be over fertilised as this may produce split roots. Carrots should be sown in different areas each year for four or five years, in order to reduce the incidence of disease.

Carrots may also be grown in containers that are more than 30cm in depth. Young carrots may be harvested as they will be sweeter in flavour. This will also allow other carrots to grow to a larger size. The first carrots will be ready for harvest between 60 and 75 days. If successive crops are planted every couple of weeks then the harvesting time will be extended.

Because of the small nature of carrot seeds, it is easy to overplant them. Small plants may need to be removed at germination in order to allow sufficient room for the mature plants to develop. As seedlings appear, mulch can be applied in an effort to maintain even moisture levels, as well as reducing weed germination and development. Moisture levels should be maintained of possible. However, if plants do dry out, then water should be applied gradually over several days. A sudden application of water my result in splitting of the roots.

Because the small, thin feeder roots on carrots are easily damaged, weeds should be removed by hand. The crowns of carrots should be covered with mulch or soil until harvesting.

GROWTH: Well-fertilised wisteria plants can quickly establish a strong framework. Application to mature plants should be reduced, as this encourages more flowers.

GROWTH: Well-fertilised wisteria plants can quickly establish a strong framework. Application to mature plants should be reduced, as this encourages more flowers.

WISTERIA TIPS 

Wisteria is a deciduous, climbing plant that displays its beautiful, pendulous flowers during spring. When grown over an outdoor shade area or over an extended framework, wisteria creates a stunning effect that is also very cooling in appearance. Wisteria plants are also effective when grown as standard specimens, that is, plants with a single trunk forming an umbrella shape with the overhanging branches.

Wisteria should be grown in full sun and are frost-hardy plants. If young plants are well fertilised they will soon establish a strong framework, although reducing the application of fertiliser to mature plants will encourage more prolific flower production.

Late spring or early summer pruning will help in maintaining a desired shape.

Wisteria sinensis is the most commonly available variety, producing the familiar lavender-blue flowers in long racemes during spring.

A white-flowered variety, wisteria floribunda alba, is available.

Double-flowered varieties are also available, although it is preferable to choose your plant while it is in flower, ensuring you purchase the particular flower type that you want.

Care must be taken to remove long, think branches that can be produced by wisteria plants as these can become invasive in the home garden.

CITRUS WASP

Citrus trees are now full of flower and displaying bright green new growth. This is an ideal situation for one of the less obvious, but quite destructive pests of citrus trees, the citrus gall wasp.

The citrus gall wasp is an Australian native pest that was originally confined to warmer areas of Queensland and northern NSW. It is usually found in coastal areas, but has been reported as far south as Melbourne.

It is now present in most backyards with lemon trees and, therefore, requires regular inspection of trees for location and removal.

Adult citrus wasps are rarely seen as they are less than 3mm in size. They are poor flyers but can be transferred from one tree to another by the wind. Following mating, the female implants her eggs into the tree from which she has recently emerged. Newly purchased trees may have the wasp eggs present. The young larvae grow in the soft stem tissue for about nine months, before they emerge as adult wasps the following year. All citrus trees may be affected, although lemons and grapefruit are the most susceptible. The first indication that a citrus tree has been attacked by gall wasp will the appearance of galls, or swellings on branches and twigs on the trees.

The galls are formed in response to the feeding larvae under the surface. Once the galls have formed the process cannot be reversed. Old galls will be indicated by swellings that have holes present in the surface. The adult wasp will have emerged through the hole. Removal of the affected plant removal by cutting below the gall is the main method of control. Unfortunately, this may also result in the removal of some fruiting plant material. Citrus gall wasp generally affects younger citrus trees.

GARDENIAS

One of the more unusual, yet very attractive trees that can feature in the spring garden is the tree gardenia, Rothmannia globosa. This is a slender tree that reaches 4-7 metres in height, although it can be pruned to a lesser height and is also suitable for shaping.

Tree gardenias produce scented, bell-shaped flowers that are creamy white. They are about 25mm long and 35mm wide. The flowers are almost stalkless and appear from August to November.

geoffh.gardening@gmail.com

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