By GEOFF MIERS
Time to make planting a priority as September is the best month of the year for introducing new plants.
With the arrival of spring the soil and air temperatures will increase producing ideal conditions for plant growth and the plants know it as they explode into their spring growth phrase.
Spring and summer vegetables, herbs, flowering annuals, citrus and all evergreen ornamental trees and shrubs, particularly native plant species, should be planted over the next four weeks for best results.
Remember fruit trees, citrus, grape vines, asparagus and vegetable gardens all require the soil being well worked over prior to planting, they will appreciate it and you will be rewarded with much healthier returns.
Blend gypsum into the soil if your soil has a high clay content or is poor draining. The gypsum bonds fine soil particles again resulting in improved drainage and improved aeration.
When preparing a planting site for fruiting trees and vines mix in compost, well rotted organic matter, potting mix and well rotted cow manure in generally limited quantities to increase the organic content of the soil, improve the water holding capacity of the soil and to stimulate microbial activity in the soil.
To this add an organic fertiliser like GrowBetter which has a blend of chicken manure, blood & bone and seaweed extract ensuring plenty of slow release nutrients are readily available for your plants.
The organic fertiliser is a valuable food source for the billions of microbes in the soil. These convert the fertiliser into plant nutrients able to be easily taken up by plants.
September is also the best month for planting citrus.
New seasons stock should still be available and planted out now allowing the tree to establish an expanded root system better able to cope with the coming summer.
In the native garden prune native plants generally after flowering is complete. Native species respond well to pruning as compact growth is promoted and many potential pest problems are removed.
Pruning off seed heads ensures the plants energy is devoted to the plants growth and overall health.
In the citrus orchard if mature citrus have yellowing foliage feed with a complete NPK fertiliser and consider adding a little extra nitrogen for lemon and grapefruit trees.
If the trees don’t respond to fertilising after seven to eight weeks collect a few leaves and have them analysed to establish which actual nutrients the trees need.
Test the soil below citrus to check pH levels as high pH or alkaline soils can result in the foliage yellowing.
Bring the pH levels back to near neutral and the necessary nutrients will generally become available. The easiest way to do this is fertilise further with sulphate of ammonia as it dissolves easily working itself through the soil and quickly lowering the pH.
When the soil has high pH or is very alkaline many nutrients get locked up in the soil and can’t be taken up by the plants. The answer is simply to lower the pH.
With regard to many fruiting trees, shrubs and vines, once they commence budding as the flowers are about to burst open apply weekly doses of potash for four weeks. The potash will improve fruit set, increase fruit size and improve flavour.
On the pest front watch for aphids as their numbers multiply rapidly as temperatures rise. The Alice Springs Community Garden commenced last week to remove many brassicas as aphid numbers had built up dramatically.
A variety of sap sucking and all manner of leaf and bud munching grubs and caterpillars tend to breed up in the garden over September.
With aphides squirt off with sharp jets of water or spray with the organic pyrethrum spray that only has a withholding period of one day.
For caterpillars and grubs use the biological spray called Dipel as all you are doing is spraying on a bacteria that is only harmful to grubs and caterpillars. This biological spray is effective for around twelve days when another spray may be required if the grubs are still evident.
In the vegetable garden its an optimum time to plant beetroot, capsicums, carrots, dwarf and climbing beans, marrow, okra, parsley, potatoes, squash, sweetcorn and zucchini.
Asparagus crowns, cress, chives, parsnips, radish, silverbeet, spinach, spring onions, Asian greens, loose leaf lettuce, strawberries and tomatoes may also be planted.
Leave plantings of pumpkin, rock and water melon until mid September to early October for best results.
Harvest citrus while they are at their peak as they are now at their tastiest.
If your citrus trees had a big crop this season its most important that you give the trees a good feed allowing them to recharge their batteries. Failure to feed may well result in a poor yield next year.
Deciduous fruit trees and grape vines will benefit by being given a spray with copper oxychloride to kill off any fungal disease previously present. Spray at bud swell time or if this has passed spray once flowering is over.
PHOTOS from top:
New planting in amongst other established vegetables.
Brassicas that need removing to beat the aphids arriving.
Carrots are a good crop to plant now.
Harvest crops as they mature – peas are great when harvested and eaten fresh.
Broad beans after several months are at last setting beans, don’t get impatient they will set beans.