Rockvale Stone & Garden

Rain continues to fall as I write this and Easter almost upon us – we are expecting 8 little egg hunters home with their parents for the great Rockvale garden egg hunt if the weather is kind.
Compost will be working well with all this moisture and warmth, generally speaking stable and poultry manure contain practically all the elements required, particularly nitrogen, phosphate, and potash in a natural organic form. However not all plants require the same proportions – animal manure that is too fresh can cause rank growth with leguminous like Peas, Beans, Lupins etc, because of excess nitrogen but left to break down in a compost heap, then used in conjunction with a general fertiliser when planting, will ensure plants get all they require in the growing season.
Plants that will not tolerate phosphate garden fertiliser are Lleucodedrons, Proteas, Banksia and Ericas/Callunas just a good organic leaf mulch will keep them happy.
Normally at this time of the year, new growth is not encouraged as all growth starts to wind down preparing for the dormant months, but here on the coast we like to continue to have colour in the garden with Polyanthus, Primulas, Pansy and Cyclamen these plants get a boost when dried blood is used around them. Dried blood is high in nitrogen and an easy way to replenish tired soil before planting.
Primula and Viola clumps can be broken up now and planted out to create borders or fill gaps in front borders.
Feed Rhododendron, Azaleas and Camellias with fertiliser mixed especially for them – which will boost them for budding and Spring flowering.
Keep dead heading Dahlias until frost collapse them. When this happens, cut back ensuring large thick stems are not left open to allow rain in to rot tubers. If Dahlia tubers are sitting in water too long after heavy rain they will rot. Dahlias can be dug out at the end of the season and stored away in a dry place to be planted out after frosts in late Spring/early Summer. A topping of pea straw is good protection for Dahlias over Winter.
Roses. The rain has spoiled Autumn Roses this year. Remove rotting blooms and resist cutting back. Roses need to start making seed and harden off before the cold months, but If growing in a warm sheltered sunny spot, one last dead heading will produce late blooms.
Time to dig up and divide Rhubarb crowns, mixing in heaps of compost before replanting.
A good time for sowing of Spinach and Snap Peas.
Harvest Pumpkins now, remembering not to remove the stalk from the Pumpkin, this stops it from rotting.
So much fruit still dropping from trees, I have been harvesting Apples and Quince this week and after all the rain it is a good time to repay your fruit trees by applying any or all of the following Lime, Manure, Rock Phosphate, liquid Seaweed and Vermiliquid around trees.
Prune Tamarillo trees hard after last fruit comes off, staggered pruning will stagger next year’s crop
Prepare Strawberry beds once the ground dries. Build up ground with compost/mulch, cut old leaves from plants and destroy, remove runners, pot up for new fruiting plants or fill in gaps.
Cheers, Linda.

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