Summer hints

Keith Mundy

Summer is with us again and with it come many tasks required to keep our gardens looking their best and, if the weather forecasters are right, we might be in for a wet summer.

Even if we get the forecast rain it is important to remember that for those of us who garden in pots, watering of these is an important practice. Plants suffer a lot of stress in pots as they often miss out on watering, due to their being in a rain shadow in the garden. They might be under a covered veranda, eaves or a large tree and miss out as we see the garden being rained upon but we forget the pots. And, usually, rain is not sufficient and they dry out very quickly leading to wilt and subsequent leaf and flower drop. Liquid fertilising can take place at the same time and that in turn keeps the plant growing well.  

Pest and disease control is also on top of the list during a wet summer. Keep an eye out for aphid infestation on roses (also on 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. 

Stone fruits will suffer if it is a wet summer as they are very susceptible to brown rot. Adopt a preventative spray program with an organic fungicide to keep this disease in check. There are many organic forms available on the market.

Applying sprays in the early morning, allows the chemical to dry out on the plant before the sun hits the plants and, more importantly, when many beneficial insects are not yet around so they won’t be harmed.

If your plants are looking a bit unthrifty and you have watered and fertilised them, do a check for scarab grub. They usually appear around this time and feed on the small feeder roots of the plants, causing great stress to the plant. They quite often appear in pot plants – so you might have to quickly tip them out and check if you can see them in the potting mix.

There are many other pest and disease issues that can arise, too many to mention here. Check with your local nursery person who will be able to help. Take photos and take samples into the nursery, so we can get a good idea of the problem.

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 from overhead. This will also prevent disease activity. Using a fertiliser high in potassium will enhance flowering and, 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.