Onion weed is again starting to appear in local gardens. Those gardeners who are unfamiliar with this weed may easily mistake it for a strong, healthy plant, as it grows quite vigorously.
Shiny grey-green elongated leaves generally appear in a clump. Flowers soon follow the leaves. The flowers grow on tall stalks and eventually form small, white, star-shaped flowers. Black seeds eventually take the place of the flowers. The seeds then spread around the surrounding area of the garden.
Onion weed can be quite difficult to eradicate from the garden, but persistence will eventually remove the majority of plants.
The flower stems should be removed before the seeds form. They can be pulled from the main plant.
However, attempting to pull the leaves from the ground will not be effective. This is because, at the base of the leaves, deeper in the soil, are multiple, small, union-like bulbs. Each one of these is capable of producing a new plant. Pulling at the leaves will usually result in the bulblets breaking off from the main plant.
By carefully removing the soil from around the base of the plant and then digging down further, the whole of the plant can be dug out, taking an amount of soil with the plant in an attempt to remove the white bulblets.
Any plants removed by digging should be placed in the garbage, and not composted as the seeds will probably remain and re-establish in gardens.
Onion weed can be sprayed with a spray containing glysophate. However, care must be taken to do this on a very still day as any drifting spray will have a detrimental effect on any plants that it lands on. Glysophate has been known to have long term damaging effects on roses that are growing near where the weeds have been sprayed. The spray can be applied directly to the leaves using a smaller paint brush.
Plants that are grown mainly indoors can suffer from diseases. It is important to keep the plants well-hydrated, particularly when air-conditioners and fans are being used for cooling, as these will soon cause leaves to dry out.
Spraying with water, using something like an ironing spray bottle, will maintain hydration levels. Placing plants outside when rain occurs will also be most beneficial to the plants.
However, it is most important to remember to take the plants back inside so that they are not subject to the strong rays of the sun later on.
One of the main problems that will affect indoor plants is scale. Scale appears as small grey-white spots, generally on the undersides of leaves. These can be removed by gently rubbing the leaf surface.
Scales are sucking insects that feed on the juices of the plant. The spots that appear are actually a protective covering for the insects underneath. Because of this factor, an application of an oil-based product, such as Eco-Oil will be required in order to suffocate the insect. It will also provide a repellent that will discourage further infestations. It is important to ensure that the under surfaces of the leaves are sprayed.
A liquid fertiliser will encourage new growth.
Care needs to be taken with watering routines for indoor plants. Many indoor plants die because of over-watering. Pushing a finger into the top soil will indicate if water is needed. If the soil feels damp, and sticks to the finger then watering is not required.
Sweet peas blooms (Lathyrus odoratus) provide one of the traditional scents associated with spring. Their bright colours also add significantly to the garden, particularly if climbing varieties have been selected and grown over a trellis or climbing framework.
However, when selecting packets of seeds to grow, it is important to select varieties that have been bred for fragrance as well as colour, as some modern varieties lack the familiar fragrance.
Sweet pea seeds are sown in autumn, with St Patrick's Day (17 March) being the traditional day for sowing the seeds, but this is only a guide. This time frame will ensure the flowers will be produced before the weather conditions heat up, causing the flowering to greatly diminish.
An open, sunny position, with good drainage should be selected. An addition of lime, at a rate of 100g per square metre, will assist in producing the preferred soil conditions. The lime should be dug well into the soil. This should be done several weeks prior to planting.
The seeds of sweet peas have a hard covering and this can cause problems in seed germination, particularly in lighter soils. Rubbing the seeds on a piece of sandpaper and the soaking them in warm water overnight will encourage them to swell to a size several times their dry size. The area opposite the small white mark on the seed, from where the roost will emerge, should be selected for the scarifying. The seeds will then germinate quickly.
Seeds sown in heavier soils will usually germinate successfully without the extra treatment. However, it will help to ensure a good germination rate.
The seeds should be sown about 20cm apart and two cm deep. If climbing varieties have been selected, then a framework on which the plants will grow should be erected at the time of planting. This will ensure the young tendrils will have some support tendrils as they appear.
- Kale is rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre, and can be cut from around 7 weeks.
- When cutting rose blooms for indoor decoration, use a sharp pair of secateurs, and cut stems around 30 - 50 cm long, which will help to keep the plant strong and healthy.
- Mulch after watering a garden patch, or recent rains, to a depth of about 7cm, keeping the mulch clear of plant stems.