Summer daze

Keith Mundy

Well, another year is all but over and the following summer months are a critical time to get our gardens through the hot and drier months.

Summer brings with it the usual tasks and although they can seem tiresome they are most essential in the overall upkeep of our gardens.

Watering is without a doubt at the top of the list. Garden beds require a good soaking at least every seven to ten days using a sprinkler and not a hand-held spray. Watering with a hand-held spray is basically just a waste of this valuable resource. Invariably the surface just gets a wetting and water does not reach the feeder roots of the plants, thus encouraging a shallow root system. In periods of extremely dry conditions, plants with shallow roots dry out very quickly and place the plant under stress often leading to death.

Similarly with lawn watering, it is best to deep water a couple of times per week to encourage deep rooting of the grass. This again will assist in preventing the grass drying out. Lift the mower up a couple of notches as more leaf will help the plant through hot days.

At the writing of this article we have had very little rain and although the grass and paddocks look green it is only surface moisture. Much care should be taken in giving the plants a deep watering before they start to stress. Many of my customers have come in and made comments on how good the rain was the previous day. I usually make a comment that I must have been on another planet at the time as I couldn’t recall the last good rain. A light one-millimetre shower of rain does very little for the garden other than to wash the dust off the plants. Don’t be fooled as to the benefit to the garden of these light showers. They are usually wasted in wetting the mulch but don’t get through to the root zone of the plants.

Maintenance of plants is another task that can be taken care of during the mid-summer period.

Keep an eye out for aphid infestation on roses and new growth on other plants as the aphids like the warmer weather and can do some serious damage to plants. Use a complete insecticide and fungicidal spray to control any pest on the roses including black spot and powdery mildew.

Practices like watering roses in the early morning and placing the sprinkler in such a position to prevent overhead watering will also assist in the prevention of fungal diseases.

Spring flowering perennials can also do with a tidy-up during this month, removing spent flower heads and any unsightly foliage that might have died. This will encourage another flush of flowers and carry through until autumn.

A repeat planting of summer salad vegetables can take place assuring you of a continual supply of delicious food. Remember to water your tomatoes at root level and not overhead. This will also prevent disease activity. Using a fertiliser high in potassium will enhance flowering therefore more fruit.

Finally, I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and look forward to providing more great gardening tips in the new year.

Our nursery is now closed at Tilba Tilba but will reopen in Central Tilba sometime towards the end of February. See you all then.

Keith Mundy