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October in the Garden

The changes of Spring are happening across the country. There are some that a waiting desperately for spring rains to arrive and others enjoying the warmth of the spring sunshine drying the earth for planting.

Spring is the time of regeneration, renewal and revival. Plants of all sizes, shapes and textures produce their wonderful displays of fresh new foliage and flowers.

Southern regions are being treated to an absolute treat as trees such as flowering cherries, flowering peaches, flowering plums and ornamental pears transform the landscape with stunning displays of colour. Although the fruiting trees are also in flower and looking great, these ornamental flowering trees are not grown for fruit, but for their beauty.

Magnolias are absolutely covered in tulip shaped flowers in shades of whites, pinks, mauves and purples. Lilacs are beginning to bloom and add their fragrance to the wonderful sweet scents of spring. Ornamental foliage trees such as maples, elms, ashes, gleditsias, liquidambars and plane trees are covered in the shades of spring growth and freshness.

Cooler areas are certainly enjoying the spring colour feast of beauty, but warmer areas have highlights as well.  Bauhinia trees are covered in spring flowers and looking bright and beautiful. Deciduous feature plants such as Frangipanis are beginning to burst into leaf and will soon be producing their tropical colours and fragrances. Poinciana and jacaranda trees will soon be transforming streets, parks and gardens with colour.

Spring Planting

With the wonderful spring weather comes the time to plant. This gives the opportunity for the new additions to the garden to establish before the heat of summer arrives. Local garden centres and garden retailers are very exciting to visit at any time of year but during the spring are overflowing with excitement, inspiration and colour. These are great places to enjoy and be part of the excitement of spring.

Tomato Time

The planting of tomato plants is a highlight of spring gardening. They are a favourite to grow and every region seems to have a local show day, race day or community event that is the green light to plant out your tomato plants.

Tomatoes love the warmth and grow best in southern areas of Australia from mid spring into the summer. In warmer areas, they can be grown all year. The plants are fast growing and fruits form and develop quickly once the conditions are favourable.

Varieties

There are many varieties of tomatoes. They produce different size fruit from cherry tomatoes to large fruits such as Beefsteak or Big Red. There are different colours, flavours, shapes and growing habits so check with the experts at your garden centre to select the best varieties that suit your needs.

Tomato plants are available in seedling punnets, cell packs or in single pots. These single pots are very popular as they allow a selection of different varieties to be made without ending up with too many plants.

Whichever variety you select, the fruits are all filled with nutrients, antioxidants and home-grown tomatoes are fresh, flavoursome and fun to grow.

Where to grow

Tomatoes love plenty of light and require at least 4 hours of direct sun each day. A nice sunny garden bed with lots of air circulation is ideal. Plant tomato seedlings once the soil temperature reaches 15 degrees and the risk of frost has passed. Growing tomatoes in pots is very popular and gives the opportunity for an early start in a sheltered position before moving the potted plant out once conditions are right. Although most tomatoes will grow in a suitable size pot, shorter growing varieties such as Patio Prize and First Prize are ideal without the need for tall stakes or trellis.

Prepare the soil

If planting in garden beds, prepare the soil by digging through quality garden compost and animal manure. Rocky Point’s range of quality composts and animal manures are perfect for the task. Rocky Point’s new improved ActivGrow (formally Active 8) is a well-balanced organic soil improver designed to reinvigorate garden beds and tired soils. ActivGrow is suitable for all soil types and will ensure a bumper harvest of healthy and tasty fruit.

To avoid problems, do not grow tomatoes in the same garden bed for two years running or in the same bed as potatoes.

If growing tomatoes in pots, always use a premium quality potting mix with slow release fertilise added as well as water retention granules. There are some specialised potting mixes that are formulated for growing tomatoes but Rocky Point Coco Pro is designed to replace the need for multiple specialty potting mixes and is ideal for growing tomatoes in pots and containers.

Pests and Diseases

There a few bugs to watch for such as aphids and caterpillars. Safe sprays are available so ask your garden retail expert for the best local advice.

Tomatoes grow quickly and generally a healthy well-fertilised and well-watered plant will not be prone to serious disease problems. If problems do occur, it is often best to discard the infected plant rather than risk the problem spreading to other plants.

Strawberries

Strawberries are one of the easiest fruiting plants to grow and it is certainly a treat to feast upon these sweet delights picked fresh from the garden.

Strawberries are ground-hugging, herbaceous plants, growing to about 15cm high and spreading into a clump 50–100cm wide. Their flowers are simple, five-petalled blooms that are pollinated by bees. These white or occasionally pink flowers are followed by succulent red fruits. Each clump sends out long thin runners (or stems) that take root to form a new plant. There are many different varieties of strawberries. Check with your garden centre for the best varieties for local conditions.

Getting started

Potted plants are available during spring and are a very popular way to begin your strawberry growing. Strawberries can be grown in pots, containers, hanging baskets as well as in garden beds.

In pots and containers

When planting strawberries in pots, containers and hanging baskets always ensure that a premium quality potting mix is used. Rocky Point Coco Pro is the professional nursery grade potting mix suitable for most types of plants. Sustainably produced with 40% Coir, Coco Pro features premium quality slow and controlled release fertilisers that feed and nourish plants for up to 14 months. A 30cm – 40cm size pot is suitable to grow up to 3 strawberry plants. Choose a sunny position. Because the strawberry fruit trails from the main part of the plant, the fruit do remain clean and are less likely to spoil when grown in containers.

In the garden

Prior to planting, dig over the soil to remove weeds and any large clods, and add plenty of compost, animal manure and blood and Bone. ActivGrow is suitable for all soil types and is ideal for preparing the soil to grow strawberry plants.

Position your plants about 30cm apart, in full sun. Strawberries do best in well-drained soil, so plant them into soil that has been mounded up slightly. The crown of the plant, which is the swollen stem base, must be left at the surface of the soil and not buried too deep.

Care and maintenance

Water well, especially when the young plants are establishing, and during dry summers. When planting in the garden, surround each plant with a layer of straw mulch so the fruit does not spoil by touching the soil. Rocky Point Sugar Cane Mulch is a fabulous mulch in the herb, vegetable garden and on the strawberry patch.

Strawberries in the garden, in pots or containers should be fertilised with a small handful of an organic fertiliser weekly. Terra Firma Organic Life is a high quality organic fertiliser to apply to all garden beds to ensure the very best results.

Lawns

Fertilise your lawn now to take full advantage of any spring rains and encourage strong roots and a lush green colour. As lawns come back to life there is the temptation to shear these off, but it is best to lift your mower blades to allow a longer lawn and a stronger, deeper root system. The ideal height will vary on the type of lawn and your local garden centre experts are happy to advice on lawn feeding and mowing for the best results.

A great time to mulch

Mulching existing garden beds will help to hold onto any precious moisture that has soaked the earth. To apply a good thick layer of mulch now will have the garden beds looking great and help to suppress weeds. Rocky Point is proudly one of Australia’s leading producers of the finest mulches for the home garden. There is a great range available to suit every garden style.

Make the most of every drop

Every gardener understands the importance of water and that there are times of plenty and times of shortages. Water retention granules applied now will help to retain the current moisture but will also reduce the watering requirements over the coming summer months. There are water retention products available for lawns and garden beds and others for pots, containers and hanging baskets. These are a great investment now to keep your gardens and plants happy and healthy throughout the warmer season ahead.

 

There are spring gardening shows and festivals, tulip and bulb farms, display gardens and gardening events happening everywhere as the very best of the season is on display. Local parks, gardens, roundabouts and street plantings are looking spectacular. There are plenty of reasons to venture outdoors and enjoy the fresh air, colour and excitement of the spring landscape.

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