New England gardening: Getting your garden spring-ready

Wattle care: Prune shrubs that have just finished flowering, such as wattles, to encourage branching and prevent them getting “leggy”.
Wattle care: Prune shrubs that have just finished flowering, such as wattles, to encourage branching and prevent them getting “leggy”.

Jobs for your garden

It’s time to tidy and trim camellias and other spring-flowering shrubs to shape after they finish flowering and before they shoot.

Protect anything newly planted from late frosts.

You can mow lawns, but not too low. Use grass clippings to start a new compost heap.

Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials such as chrysanthemum, agapanthus, anemone, aster, nepeta (catmint), liriope, campanula, perennial phlox, michelmas and shasta daisies, red hot poker etc. Don’t leave this too late as it’s easy to damage the new shoots.

In the veggie patch, you can plant leeks, onions, parsley, parsnips, cauliflower, peas, radish, silverbeet, lettuce, swedes and turnips. Don’t get too excited just yet, though.

Sow tomato, capsicum, eggplant, marrow and melon seeds in seed trays, keep undercover and plant out infour to six weeks, after the danger of frost has passed.

Weeding tips

As soon as you cultivate the earth the weeds will appear, so here are a few strategies that might make weeding a little more gratifying.

  1. Make weeding a routine activity. Sometimes you do have to spend some concentrated time cleaning the house or cooking to feed the residents, but try to plan to spend even just 10 or 15 minutes weeding each day, or every second day. It will make a difference.
  2. Don't let any weeds flower and set seed. Pull out the annuals before they set seed and try to get as much of the roots of perennials as possible.
  3. Wear gloves to help you get a good grip on the weed and to protect yourself from weeds that retaliate like stinging nettles and thistles.
  4. Use good tools. When you find a tool that really works for you, guard it with your life.
  5. Weed after rain when the ground is damp.
  6. For oxalis, drip machine oil into the centre of each plant.
  7. For onion weed, try glyphosate into the centre of each plant. If you have this weed, however, it just might be easier to consider moving house!

The Armidale Garden Club’s next meeting is on Thursday, September 27 at 7pm in the Uniting Church Hall. Everyone is most welcome.

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