Garden calendar February 2019
- Remember that February 14 is Valentine's Day. What better gift could there be but a perfumed red flowering rose growing in a well matched pot for the special person in your life? Use a top of the line potting mix such as Baileys Premium Potting Mix. The red ticks Australian Standards logo ensures a good start. Roses that fit the Valentine's description include: Mister Lincoln, Papa Meiland, Red Cross, Fragrant Cloud, Scentimental (white and red striped) Double Delight (cream and crimson) and David Austin roses including William Shakespeare, Fisherman's Friend and Falstaff.
- Spring flowering bulbs arrive in garden centres this month. Buy early but plant late. Cold climate types can be stored in the vegetable crisper of the fridge. Tulips, hyacinth, crocus and fritillaria all fit this bill. Hold planting until April or even May until temperatures are mild. It is ok to plant out freesias, soldier boys and babiana or baboon flower into pots as these all come from South Africa where the heat is factored into their DNA.
- Prepare the soil for planting bulbs by digging in compost or well-rotted animal manure.
- Repot permanent potted plants such as citrus and olive trees. Remember that potting mixes no matter how good, run out of steam within two years. Replace some of the mix with fresh Premium Potting Mix or Veg & Herb Premium Planting Mix even if it means excavating a portion of the pots contents.
- Plant some summer colour, if only in a few pots its gives you such a lift. Petunias and vincas are two great summer performers.
- Sow seeds of winter flowering annuals now to get a head start on the season. Try snapdragon, primula, pansy and viola.
- Select hibiscus plants while they are in flower.
- Buy seed potatoes cut these into chunks with at least one 'eye' per piece. Leave these to sprout in a cool dark dry place before planting.
- Now is the time to sow seeds of cabbage, lettuce, silver beet, collards, celery, onion, leek, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts.
- Select your favourite capsicum or chilli and save your own seeds.
- Feed tropical plants as they are in active growth in the warm months. Use Baileys NPK or Energy Garden.
- This might be surprising but Mango trees even though they might be still carrying fruit in the southern states can still benefit from a fertiliser application now. You need to be careful not to overdo it. Mature trees need only about a cupful of a high analysis NPK fertiliser such as Baileys NPK.
- Annual flowers and vegetables are also in good growth now so these need to be regularly fed. This is where liquid fertilisers come into their own as they deliver a small but readily digestible dose of nutrients. Use Baileys Vitpalant.
- This is the month we tend to batten down the hatches and seek protection from the worst of the summer heat. Mulch every bit of bare soil around the garden. Baileys' Moisture Mulch is excellent feeding mulch.
- Prune and feed roses in preparation for the autumn flush of flowering. Use Baileys Rose and Citrus.
- Grape vines can wilt on extremely hot days and this is detrimental to their fruit production. If a heatwave is forecast try giving your vines a deep soaking the day before and then every day till cooler weather arrives.
Pruning and Maintenance
- Wetting agents such as Grosorb can really help your plants through tough times by ensuring water gets to the root zone quickly. Apply to lawns, garden beds pots and hanging baskets.
- Keep a watch for signs of extreme stress in your garden plants particularly if you cop a run of very hot days. Things to look for include excessive flower drop, leaf wilting, dead branches, curling of foliage, in lawns the grass suddenly taking on a blue tinge and in deciduous trees foliage turning autumn colour prematurely.
- Overhead watering even in the middle of the day is the emergency response that works best when your plants are showing these symptoms. It cools the plant down fast. This is certainly not recommended as an ongoing method of watering just a one off when things get out of hand.
- Prune off any dead wood in trees or shrubs. If you are suspicious of diseases having a role in the death of the branches dispose of the material rather than chip or even composting unless you use the hot method.
- Clip petunias lightly every month then feed immediately to keep the bushes looking fresh and full of flower.
- Harvest onions and cure by placing in a dry cool location for a week. These will store for long periods before use. One of the most effective ways of storing onions, garlic and shallots is to braid the leaves. They can then be hung up in a shed for many months.
- Time to harvest potatoes when the plants start browning off and loosing leaves.
- When harvesting sweet corn push a thumbnail into the kernels. If the juice is doughy it's over mature, if watery it's immature, but if it's milky then it's at a perfect stage to pick.
- Harvest zucchini regularly even if early when fruits are small. The idea is to promote fruiting over a long season.
- Selecting the right time to harvest watermelon is tricky but achievable. Things to look for include the underside turns white, the tendril nearest to the fruit turns brown and if you flick the fruit it gives a dull thud rather than a ringing sound.
- Now is a great time to dry herbs - always away from the sun.
- Cut artichoke plants to the ground to promote fresh new growth.
- Mow lawns high so that leaves shade the root system.
- Regular mowing helps reduce weed infestation.
- Water your lawn right after mowing to stop the newly exposed blades of grass from burning.
- Compost lawn clippings to add to your garden as fertiliser. However, if you have used herbicides including weed and feed formulations on your lawn then it's best to dispose of the clippings.
- The extreme heat often leads to blossom end rot in tomato and capsicum. Brown patches appear at the base of the fruit at the opposite end to the stem. Also, splits appear in tomato fruits and sometimes white blotches which are sunburn show up on fruits that are exposed to direct sun. Mulching can help as well as even watering. If possible shade your plants temporarily.
- Cherry and apricot trees suffer from canker diseases that are most readily spread when the trees are pruned in winter. For this reason do your annual pruning now that the fruiting has finished.