One of the common problems in lawns is the appearance of bare patches.
The most common reason for this happening is the application of too much fertiliser. Gardeners often encourage lawns to produce rich, strong growth that will provide a good base to survive during summer. However, an over-application of fertilisers, including organic ones, will result in excess nitrogen being applied – burning the roots and stems of the grasses.
The use of a purpose-built spreader will ensure an even and appropriate coverage.
Random application of fertiliser from a container will probably result in an uneven spread. However, applying half in one direction, such as north-south, over the whole area, and then applying the remaining half in the opposite direction (east-west) will help ensure a more even spread.
As lawns produce new growth, weeds often appear. These will generally be broad-leaf weeds such as dandelions, marshmallows, cat’s ear, plantain, dock and chickweed. Lawns that have been well and appropriately fertilised will reduce the likelihood of weeds as there will be fewer spaces between the grass plants.
Broad-leaf weeds can be removed by hand, using a sharp digging tool to ensure the whole root is removed.
A number of organic control methods are preferred by some gardeners. In general, it may be necessary for repeated applications before control is obtained.
These methods include adding a mixture of boiling water and vinegar applied directly to individual plants or applying a cup of salt dissolved in two litres of vinegar.
However, larger areas may require the application of a selective herbicide specifically developed to target broad-leaf weeds. It is important to note that such sprays must not be used on buffalo or similar grasses.
Many gardeners like to include a citrus tree or two in their garden. Citrus fruits are an excellent source of Vitamin C, with the fruit being able to be eaten fresh, or used as juice. A good selection is available for growing in pots and on patios.
The most common varieties are lemons, oranges and mandarins. New varieties that are ideally suitable for smaller garden beds or courtyard planting have recently become available as dwarf-growing versions of more traditional tree forms. Winter is an ideal time to plant new citrus trees, except in areas of frost, where late September and early October is preferable.
Lemons are available in several varieties that can be selected by tree size and fruit production time.
The Meyer lemon is a small growing tree with deep-green leaves and large, thin-skinned fruit in a rich yellow colour. The fruit is produced during winter and is very good source of juice. Meyer lemons are quite suitable for colder areas.
Lisbon lemons grow into large trees with pale green leaves. The fruit, produced mainly in winter but also at other times of the year, is large and thick-skinned.
A large semi-weeping tree is the growth habit of the Eureka lemon. The trees are thornless, making them ideal for areas where children are active. Large thick-skinned fruit is produced throughout the year, but mainly in summer.
A less common variety of citrus that is available now is the tangelo. Tangelos are a cross between mandarins and grapefruits. They are very juicy fruits, producing an abundance of sweet juice despite their grapefruit origins. They have a rather thin reddish-orange skin and a thinner neck, similar in shape to a pear. Two of the more common varieties are “Seminole” and “Minneola”. Minneola produces fewer seeds. Seminole can be ready for harvesting in mid-June.
Tangelos can be used in traditional citrus-based marmalades as well as a juice source for savoury dishes and muffins. The flavour of stir-fries, dressings and soups will also be enhanced by their juice. Recipes that use oranges can have tangelos used as a substitute.
Established citrus trees should be fed now. Avoid burning roots by ensuring the soil is damp before applying a fertiliser such as Dynamic Lifter Fruit & Citrus, which is specially formulated to promote flowers and fruit. The fertiliser should be scattered under the tree. The addition of a layer of organic mulch will help to ensure the tree gains maximum fertiliser benefit.
Many citrus trees are attacked by the bronze-orange citrus bug in summer. These pests suck juices from young growth, causing disfigurement to the foliage and fruit cropping problems. They are identified by their habit of clustering on branches and emitting a foul-smelling spray when disturbed. Bronze-orange citrus bugs are in their nymphal stage during winter. An application of PestOil, sprayed on the tree leaves and trunk, will eliminate the majority of the pests before they reach maturity. A repeat application of the oil, which is non-toxic, when new growth appears will also help control citrus leaf miner.
- Larger-growing succulents can add dramatic elements to the garden landscape, and often grow in darker colours.
- As buds form on geraniums, watch out for small holes, as these will indicate eggs have been laid there, soon forming caterpillars.
- Native orchids are now in full, attractive bloom, although their flowers are sometimes overlooked as they are smaller than exotic varieties.