Hurrah – the heavens opened and what a good rain last week – I am sure I could hear every growing thing sighing in relief… Autumn is happening – sun low in the sky and plants coming t

Rockvale Stone & Garden
Rockvale Stone & Garden

the end of this growing season, preparing now for a magnificent colourful finale.
Grass is staying green and weeds still popping up, but if the hoe is kept on the go while weeds are small in soft ground, they wont get away on us like they do in Spring. ( wishful thinking?) I am still cutting back, because everything is really tired now and wanting to make seed and when I start chopping back at this time of the year, there is no stopping me from leaving destruction in my wake.
While working my way around, I dealt to all my Bearded Iris’s, by cutting leaves back by two thirds and making sure the top of rhizomes were above ground, to bake in the Autumn sun. Some needed shifted from the shade created by trees getting bigger, into sunny well drained locations. Iris’s are well worth the trouble of growing and look wonderful planted together in their own bed – enabling them to put a grand display on come spring. 6-8 weeks after blooming, rhizomes can be divided, leaving a chunk of rhizome and roots to every new division.
If needed, you can also divide and re pot clumps of water Iris now. To re pot, water Iris and line a plastic pot
with sacking, or a chuxs kitchen cloth, Place a generous amount of gravel on the bottom then some soil, a little stable manure or slow release fertiliser granules, well into the middle of the pot, then plant the Iris and add another thick layer of gravel. The gravel on the bottom and top helps to prevent fill and fertiliser leaching from the pot – while at the same time weighting the pot down when the Iris becomes top heavy. Submerge replanted Iris back into the pond.
If you are having trouble with pond water growing green slime, remove as much of it as you can and place a good slice from a bale of straw into a least visible part of your pond – weigh it down with a rock, then flood the pond to overflowing. The straw will rot down and the pond will go through a murky stage before eventually working the way it should be. Be careful never to let fertiliser drift into ponds – nitrogen is what causes still warm water to green up.
Remove seed heads from ornamental grass if you have not already done so – they just pull away with a rake. Clumps can also now be trimmed back if getting too big, or divided by putting a spade through the middle and removing half. Sometimes I have to dig the whole grass out to do this, by putting the spade through once – pulling apart while standing on one half of the clump.
If thinking of adding Roses, or more Roses to your garden, I suggest you look at Rose variety books – or go online to make your choices now, then get your order into a Garden centre. New season’s Roses will begin arriving in June and by ordering now, you will be sure not to miss out. If ordering for a new Rose bed, be sure to take note of heights and widths because they will be all growing together and you would not want some out growing and shading others.
All bought Roses have been grafted onto strong root stock, but Roses can be grown from Autumn cuttings on their own roots. Choose a strong new growth about the thickness of a pencil that has made hard wood – if cut from the bottom of the bush, three or four cuttings can be taken. Strip all leaves, make a straight cut on the bottom and a slanted cut at a bud node on the top of each cutting. Dig a narrow slit into firm damp earth and push cuttings in straight cut down, then firm soil around cuttings and water in. These cuttings will not make roots until Spring. Shift and pot each one up when you notice buds swelling.
March is an important month for planting Winter veg. Prepare prior to planting with compost, general garden fertiliser – I add lime to my compost, then know the garden is getting it when compost is added. Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Spinach, and Silverbeet seedlings and Broad Beans can be planted – cover with netting or frost cloth if they are troubled by birds or white butterflies. In colder areas, seeds of Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts are best sown in trays for planting out later.
A green manure cover crop will germinate quickly right now, to be dug in before flowers develop – this will add enriched humus to soil. Blue Lupin, Mustard or Oats are good options. Parsley can be grown from seed if sown now and perennial Herbs – such as Chives, Mint, Thyme, Sage, and Marjoram can be divided and replanted. Basil -a Summer annual, should be harvested, dried or frozen before frost. Prepare Garlic beds, sow Heartease (small wild pansy) alongside – a companion plant to Garlic and Onions.
Manure, mulch and compost around Fruit trees while ground is warm. Late Peaches should be almost ready to pick now. Feed citrus bushes with citrus fertiliser – they just keep on producing flowers and fruit.
A Scruff update. He has small dog syndrome – barking and jumping up on visitors – the Postie in that red and yellow buggy makes him almost turn inside out!!! A stern talking to, sends him off to take his frustration out on the Bantams as they run in all directions with feathers flying!! He dropped his lead at my feet the other day …telling me something??
Cheers, Linda

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