Beans are a very satisfying vegetable grow. If grown well, plants will achieve quite high yields. The flavour of home-grown beans seems to be far superior to that of commercially produced crops.
Fresh beans are very palatable and nutritious. Plants generally require minimal attention and will commence cropping from eight weeks after sowing of the seeds.
Beans can generally be divided into two groups, French beans and Dwarf beans. The main sowing season extends from mid-September to February. It is preferable, if space allows, to sow a new row of beans each fortnight, as this will ensure a continual supply over an extended season.
The generally acidic soils of our area will benefit from a light dressing of lime, applied at a rate of 2 cups for each square metre. A cup of complete plant food can also be scattered over the sowing area, prior to planting the seeds. Beans enrich the soil with nitrogen. This means that, following a crop of beans, planting of leafy vegetables such as cabbages and lettuce will benefit greatly from the rich soil.
Dwarf beans grow well in most areas of Australia. Preference would generally be given to stringless types such as "Tender green". Some varieties do not produce well in the hotter months, and brown-seeded varieties should be selected when cropping is likely to occur at these times. "Brown Beauty", "Royal Windsor", "Windsor Long Pod" or "College Pride" should all grow well under hotter conditions. Butter Beans, "Bountiful" and "Startler Wax" would also be suitable.
Red-seeded types such as "Hawkesbury Wonder" and "Canadian Wonder" are best grown early or late in the season, when their maturity is unlikely to coincide with heat wave conditions.
Runner beans and climbing bean varieties need some form of trellising or should be grown on the sunny side of a fence, supported by string, twigging or wire netting.
Purple King beans produce pods with a strong purple colour. When they are cooked, the beans lose their purple colour.
Scarlet Runner beans feel quite coarse when they are mature. However, they will be quite tender, with a very good flavour. They will produce better when there are cooler nights.
Borlotti beans are a bush-type, producing pods that can be eaten as a pod, fresh or allowed to dry.
Beans should be picked regularly, as they mature, as this will ensure a longer season of production. Allowing the beans to stay on the bushes without picking them will stall production of more beans.
Succulents are mainly grown for their colourful foliage which can be quite ornamental and create dramatic landscaping effects when mass planted in the garden or in containers. They are some of the most water-efficient plants that a gardener can include in their garden as they require very little watering, even in the warmer summer months.
An additional benefit from many succulents is that they produce bright, showy flowers, often in late winter and early spring. Some flowers cover the plant in a mass of colour, while others produce taller stems that feature bell-shaped flowers, often in the colours of red, yellow and orange.
One particular group of succulents that is in full bloom now is the kalanchoe.
Kalanchoes produce flowers in red, orange, white, yellow and pink. Once the bright flowers have finished, a dead stalk will remain. This should be removed from the plant.
Kalanchoes perform best in a soil that is free-draining. They make good specimens when grown in pots, but they are also most effective when used as garden borders.
Two bulbous plants (plants that grow from bulbs) that have been making beautiful displays in local gardens over recent weeks are Hippeastrums and Cliveas.
Hippeastrums are dormant during the winter months, but during spring they then produce huge flowers on thick stems that are about 40cm in height. They prefer a drier garden and are useful when planted as a border, in a narrow garden bed beside a path or driveway, or in drifts in the garden.
A well-drained soil that has been enriched with compost or cow manure will produce large, single, trumpet-shaped flowers in variations of reds and creams, often with stripes. Plants should be placed into the garden during autumn, with the top of the bulb just showing at soil level.
Hippeastrums grow well in pots, enabling them to be used in courtyards and entrances when they are in flower.
Cliveas (Belgium hybrids) produce flowers traditionally in deep orange colourings, with a yellow throat. Their strappy, thick dark green leaves are also quite attractive. However, many more varieties are now available, including some with yellow flowers.
Cliveas are particularly useful plants for garden planning as they grow very well in dry, shady areas, particularly under larger shrubs or trees.
Cymbidium orchids should be fed with Campbell Orchid Special Fertiliser (blue form) from now until December. Then the yellow form should be applied. The fertiliser applied to the leaves about every two weeks.
It is important to allow the fertiliser to drain through, and away from the pot. This will be assisted if a good quality potting mix, designed specifically for orchids, has been used. The potting mixture should be free from soil as most orchids have roots that need more air space than soil can provide. It may contain materials such as pieces of bark and perlite.
- Regular harvesting of leafy-green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, will encourage the continual production of new leaves.
- The leaves of flowering bulbs, such as daffodils and jonquils, should be fed and then allowed to die off naturally, rather than tying them into a clump, in order to feed the bulbs for next year.
- Flowers on roses should be cut for enjoyment indoors, cutting back to just above a leaf junction, as this will encourage a new lot of flowers to be produced.