By GEOFF MIERS
Checking irrigation systems heads the gardener’s October to-do list to bring them in line with the changing climatic conditions as well as don’t have any costly leaks.
All fertilizing should be nearing completion, indoor plants need attention now and planting a new lawn should be given priority status as conditions are ideal.
Irrigation systems need to be checked to ensure they are fully operational. If your irrigation is timed to come on during the night or early morning it definitely needs to be checked as any problems may not be discovered as you are likely to be sound asleep.
A dawn drive around town generally reveals faulty irrigation systems where split lines or broken off drippers are resulting in large quantities of water “literally running down the street”.
Having checked the irrigation system its time to generally adjust the controller to managing the amount of water being applied to the garden.
With the little rain we are experiencing and the mild temperatures it may not be time to up the amount of water applied but once the temperatures are regularly in the high 30s and 40s your systems will need adjusting.
With compost bins that are full and the contents mature and well broken down give consideration to using this compost as a soil conditioner or even as a surface mulch to lessen water loss through evaporation.
As this compost breaks down it will slowly release plant nutrients necessary to support sustained healthy plant growth, will improve the water holding capacity of your soil and most importantly will work towards lowering the pH of your soil.
Our soils in their raw state generally have a pH of around 6.5 however our water has a high pH so as we apply water to our gardens increasingly the pH rises and our soils slowly become alkaline.
Once our soils become alkaline necessary plant nutrients become unavailable to many plants in the garden.
Alkaline soils can result in slow plant growth, foliage yellowing, poor fruit set and poor quality produce and a lack of quality blooms in the flower garden.
When yellowing of foliage occurs, growth is poor and stunted and the garden is generally suffering people look for a quick fix.
It should however be remembered that in many cases the necessary nutrients are often in the ground they are simply locked up and unavailable to the plants.
Drop the pH and slowly the nutrients again become available and the plants will increasingly take up the nutrients they need for healthy growth. If the pH is high adding more nutrients can not achieve the desired outcome as the plants can’t take them up easily.
Lower your pH and then nutrients applied are more easily taken up by your plants resulting in sustained healthy growth.
While experiencing quite ideal spring weather conditions with plants wanting to put on a growth spurt its wise to assist where you are able.
Citrus and fruit trees generally are quite heavy feeders and should be regularly fed to not only support healthy plant growth now but also to assist with good fruit set and the production of quality produce 6 to 9 months down the track.
Lawns are not only thirst areas of the garden they are also hungry feeders and need sustained support to reward you with the lush, cool, green look you desire, a surface that your young kids and pets can enjoy with relish.
If your lawn hasn’t been fed this season give the lawn a feed with a complete NPK with trace elements lawn fertiliser as this will support all parts of your lawn grasses.
An ideal analysis would read 16% nitrogen, 1% superphosphate, 5% potassium, 2.4% calcium, 20% sulphur and very small amounts of trace elements including manganese, iron, copper, zinc, boron and molybdenum.
This can be followed up with a high nitrogen feed approximately 6 to 8 weeks later. I recommend Sulphate of ammonia.
Sulphate of ammonia is essentially 21% nitrogen and 23.6% sulphur both present in an easily dissolvable form that both assists in lowering the pH of your soil while giving the lawn grasses a huge nitrogen boost that will result in an increased growth rate and greening up of your lawn grasses.
Once having fertilized your lawn twice over two months its easy to let your lawn get away from you and the grass becomes a little too tall. Be careful not to let this happen as with hot weather around the corner tall grass cut back to the desired height can result in your grass being burnt by the increased intensity of the suns rays and really setting back your lawn.
Don’t forget there is still so much planting that can take place now. Second plantings of select crops in the vegetable garden can take place, sweet corn being a classic example. By careful management you can plant at least 4 to 5 crops of corn a year and be harvesting corn cobs for many months.
Most native plants will thrive when planted now and as the temperatures rise tropical plants come into their own as the soil temperatures rise conditions become ideal and they will simply blossom.