Busy garden after record rain

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By GEOFF MIERS

There’s no rest for the gardener after the wettest November day on record, the river in flood and much of The Centre enjoying excellent rains.

Lawns, pest control, late planting, weed management and mulching should take priority.

Lawns will need regular mowing, a careful eye needs to be kept for lawn grubs and the lawn will benefit by being given a feed.

Lawn grass growth rates in response to the recent rains and humid conditions demand that most lawns will need to be mowed at least once a week.

Chris the Gardenman told me Sunday morning that he had just taken 17 catcher loads off one back lawn, never before had he taken off so much when the lawn had only been recently mowed.

Give consider raising the lawn mower one notch to slightly increase the height of the grass. This increased height will limit potential sun damage as summer approaches and particularly after mowing and if the lawn has been allowed to grow a little longer than normal.

Lawns allowed to grow unchecked will promote an increased likelihood of lawn grubs as the moth is encouraged to lay eggs in the longer grass.

While keeping lawns regularly mowed a careful watch should be kept for the presence of African Black Beetle and the Army or Lawn Grub. Both can devastate even well maintained lawns.

The secret to managing African beetle and Lawn grub is to break the breeding cycles. If grubs or beetle are present mow the lawn, give it a good deep watering and then spray with an appropriate chemical and refrain from watering for at least three days.

Ten to 14 days after the first spray follow the same procedure as detailed above.  This should provide adequate control for at least 10 to 12 weeks. If moist conditions persist and conditions remain favourable for beetles and grubs it may be necessary to repeat this procedure.

Army grub or Lawn grub live above the soil so generally it is easy to bowl them over with a deep drenching spray.

Common couch lawn after a mow after the rain and not fed yet.

The larvae of the African Black Beetle (it looks like a witchetty grub) however actually lives in the soil sometimes up to 20 cms deep. The larvae actually eats the roots of the grass whereas the Army worm generally literally mows off the foliage leaving the lawn looking like it has been closely cropped a bit like short-back and sides.

Lawn grasses will benefit by being given a feed if not fed for some time, more so since we have had so much rain that can leach out necessary much needed nutrients.

Firstly I like to feed the lawn with a complete NPK Plus trace elements lawn fertilizer and just before Christmas give the lawn another feed with a high nitrogen fertilizer. I use sulphate of ammonia as it is essentially nitrogen and sulphur.

The nitrogen gives the lawn a great foliar feed boosting leaf growth dramatically which the sulphur in dissolving and moving through the soil will help drop the pH lowing the soil alkalinity.

December allows for some planting of vegetables and flowering annuals and more so this year with the milder moist conditions, however be warned temperatures can quickly rise and undoubtedly there is much warmer weather ahead.

Any planting at all will require daily waterings until they settle and establish new root systems into the surrounding soil. Seedlings will require some protection as few have been hardened to cope with hot dry conditions.

Beetroot, capsicums, carrots, cress, cucumbers, dwarf & climbing French beans, egg plants, leeks, marrow, pumpkin, radish, rock melon, silver beet, spinach, squash, sweetcorn and zucchini can all be planted now.

Semi-advanced tomatoes ready to flower can still be planted while temperatures are relatively still quite low. Strawberries can still be planted and some will produce a few strawberries but don’t expect a bumper crop until next year once the plants have grown.

For strawberries that are well established consider giving them side-dressings of Potash weekly for four weeks. This will induce flowering, improve fruit set and improve the quality and taste of the strawberries as they mature.

A range of herbs can still be planted now or course basil as it thrives in the hot weather.

In the flower garden plant masses of petunias for Christmas colour. Ageratum, aster, dianthus, erigeron, gazania, marigold, portulaca, sun flowers, verbena, vinca and zinnia are all hardy summer loving flowering annuals that may all be planted.

My absolute favourite annual flowers for planting now are portulaca, vinca and zinnias.

For all new plantings be thorough as a sprinkle may well be quite insufficient and you may well see your new plant slowly deteriorate in health and eventually die.

The most urgent actions needing to be undertaken revolves around keeping rampant weed growth under control. Literally thousands of weed seeds have germinated over the past few days and will quickly become a problem if left unchecked.

Three corner jacks are of particular concern if allowed to mature particularly for children, animals and push bikes, they need removing immediately before they any chance to set seed.

Couch and buffel along with a number of broad-leafed weeds are growing with gusto with some already flowering and ready to set seed. They all need urgent attention.

Hand weeding, scuffing with the feed, digging in and smothering are all actions that can be undertaken to manage newly emerging weeds.

For more mature weeds with particular reference to couch and buffel grass chemical control may be required. With these grasses lush with fresh growth and actively growing they are most susceptible now to chemical control. Where grass is growing amongst plants look to use a grass specific weedicide that will kill only the grasses but not harm the plants.

The value of mulch can’t be stressed enough as a well mulched garden will experience fewer weed problems, will stimulate micro-bionic soil activity, will moderate soil temperatures and result in less water lost through evaporation.

All exposed soils should be mulched over prior to the onset of the real summer months.

PHOTO: Hundreds of weeds popped up within days of the rain.

1 COMMENT

  1. I wouldn’t call it a flood.
    As far as I can tell it didn’t break the banks.
    A full flow.
    And cut the lawn!

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