At the last Armidale Garden Club meeting, members were treated to a fascinating talk by Chris Fyfe, Research Project Manager at UNE for the Integrated Weed Management in Vegetables project.
We learned how maintaining a cover of vegetation will not only suppress weeds in between crops, but also protect the soil.
It also conserves soil moisture and adds soil carbon, as well as reducing the overall weed burden in the soil.
This applies not only for vegie growing, but for all gardening and pastoral enterprises.
Best cover crops depend on what the predominant weeds are and the crop species, and include biofumigants.
Chris also explained the value of organic compost mulches.
Jobs for March
Sowing hardy annuals such as cornflowers or sweet peas in containers now, for planting out in spring, will give you larger plants and more flowers in spring.
Camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons are setting buds now and will benefit from application of fertiliser specifically for these acid-soil -loving plants.
Continue preparing beds for planting spring-flowering bulbs.
Collect the seed heads of weeds such as dandelions or milk thistle if you discover they are already close to spreading to prevent them taking over the garden
Prune pelargoniums (technically pelargoniums but many call them geraniums) back by about a third, at a growing point.
Repot or divide cyclamen corms. Replant half in, half out of the soil and water around the bulbs; don’t wet the bulbs as they are susceptible to root rot.
In the vegie garden
Sow broad beans, broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot, silver beet, onion, garlic, leeks, kale and coriander. Continue successive plantings of lettuce and carrots.
To prevent pumpkins and squashes from rotting on the vine, place them on top of a wooden plank or paving slab to lift them off the soil.
Take out the tops off tomato plants to encourage them to produce more ripe fruits and fewer stems.
Pick ripened raspberries and blackberries and use them straight way of freeze for later.
Keep collecting fallen fruit but only put uninfected fruit in the compost.
Continue picking tomatoes, eggplant, beans, capsicum, cucumbers and zucchini while small and tasty and to encourage more fruit.
The next meeting of the Armidale Garden Club is on March 28 at 7.30pm at the Uniting Church Youth Hall off Rusden St. New members are most welcome.