by Mick O’Brien
Spring is here at last; some winter flowering wattles are still in bloom around the district and now many spring flowering plants are bursting into life with their new season’s buds ready to take centre stage. The sudden change of temperatures with cool and windy weather in this first week of spring ensured winter had not quite left us, but spring is definitely in the air now and I am looking forward to the warmer temps ahead. There are lots of dragonflies, butterflies and lizards hanging around the gardens locally (mine included), which is great to witness. I even had a bizarre visit of a black prince cicada last week. I was leaving a property after a maintenance visit at Banksia Beach and heading for Woorim and noticed the cicada sitting on my bullbar facing me, the first thing I thought of when I spotted the little fella was, it’s a bit early for cicadas is it not? And then I thought, hope its ok - and as I continued driving down past the cemetery it turned itself around facing the oncoming wind like a mascot on a car bonnet. After pulling up at my next scheduled property visit, the cicada flew off and flew around me and over to the trees chirping away and back over me again, I swear it was the only one I could hear, hope he found a mate, I felt privileged indeed!
Now back in the patch, our broccolini is still powering along but some of them have gone to flower, which we let go for the bees to feed on. I was going to start culling some plants to make room in the garden, but they are still producing well. The beauty of the broccolini plants is you can plant 10 to 12 plants close together and not worry about the excessive growth competition like the large leaved varieties, they have been reliable and trouble free, you can plant these in large pots in the cooler months if you haven’t got the ground space, but you will need to give them at least 6 hours of sunlight. Spring planting in the subtropics generally consists of planting beans, capsicum, pumpkin, rockmelon, rosella, sweet corn, silverbeet, sweet potato, watermelon and zucchini, cucumber, tomato, eggplant and Asian greens. Care is needed when watering your tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, and cucumber as to not wet the foliage and if the leaves do get wet, hopefully it’s in the morning - so the sun can dry the leaves, otherwise the dreaded powdery mildew on cucurbits or bacterial and fungal diseases on tomato will decimate your crop. We are trying a new variety of cucumber this spring called- Beit Alpha, thin skinned sweet flesh and popular in the Mediterranean. We usually get hit with hungry insects as the weather warms, so it might be good to invest in a fine cloth net if you do not have the time to attend to your plants. Most citrus are producing new flowers and buds so try not to over water them as they can drop their flowers as quick as they were formed. Citrus leaf miner is a continued pest and preventative applications of eco-oil sprayed on both sides of leaves will assist some of the new soft leaves from being attacked, as the more leaves that can grow to full size - the better health of the trees will be and as a result optimum photosynthesis means - better quality and tastier fruits in the end.
So, happy spring to all and may your gardens be thriving with life! Until next issue- Take care!