Finally, and almost right on cue, the first week of autumn and temperatures are already receding, which makes gardening- so-much- more -pleasant! Don’t get too comfortable though! There is plenty to do now if you have the time, energy and ability. The lawns are starting to slow a little as the daylight hours becomes shorter but still plenty of time to over-sow those bare patches with grass seed or sods or perhaps lay some new strips of turf before the temperatures plummet in the next few months. Best to irrigate them thoroughly and regularly to maximise germination and to ensure the turf roots take hold. Also, a great time to control those pesky weeds that have set seed and flourished- while our lawns were set-back, during the recent dry spell of late.
Speaking of the dry spell; I mentioned last article about (dry patch) in turf, and to help solve this problem, we can add some soil wetting agents which will assist in breaking down the hydrophobic soil particles and allowing that vital moisture to penetrate through to the grass root systems once again. And the same philosophy applies to those hard to wet potted plants, when sometimes the water pools on the surface upon watering, instead of infiltrating through to the plants root system. When inspecting your potted plants soil media, it’s also a perfect opportunity to look for pests like ants or mealy bugs, that may have taken residence in and around the root system. Ants can form a water-repellent area as they nest among the plants roots and as a result, any applied irrigation may run straight through your potting soil without touching your plants roots at all. I like to gently flush the plants root system by placing the pot plant in a large tub or bucket of water until the air stops bubbling and the soil media becomes totally wet again. This process also helps to flood the ants out too. Beware though, sometimes hundreds of live ants will float to the surface in protest. Last month we had very strong winds which bombarded the whole east coast, and many plants, including our potted specimens, took quite a beating indeed, especially the large long leaved ones like the palms or Heliconia’s, as their foliage tends to catch the wind like a sail and tend to tear to shreds or dry out to a cinder in these conditions. Some plants I had come across had dropped most of their flowers, buds and fruits too. So, it’s a great time to inspect, clean and prune these plants back to shape now the weather is more agreeable and in preparation for the cooler months that lay ahead.
The time for planting-Autumn is an excellent time to plant out new plants in your garden as they will mostly save their energy to expand their roots as they anchor into the soil profile in the cooler months that lay ahead. And by next spring, these plants tend to often surprise us with a welcome surge of wonderful new foliage, flowers, buds and fruits. I like to fertilise my fruit trees, ornamentals and veggie plants with regular applications of an organic blend of composted manures, worm castings and seaweed tonics each new season or when planting out new plants. These breakdown slowly and feed the plants over time without forcing any unnecessary new flushes of the foliage, at the expense -of the developing root systems energy reserves.
After gardening throughout the hot summer months, working now- in autumn, is a welcome relief indeed. Until next issue- Happy autumn to you all!