What to do
Citrus trees that have set fruit need a feed about now. Look for a fertiliser with added trace elements to ensure a healthy plant and fruit that is also rich in vital minerals. Avoid nigh nitrogen fertilisers, as they will promote more leaf growth rather than fruit development. Look for credible brands that have specialised blends for citrus.We recommend Troforte M for Citrus. Make sure you are not watering your trees when fruit has set, as over watering can cause the fruit to split.
Palms and tropical plants will also appreciate a feed now to give them one last boost before winter. Use a complete NPK plus trace elements fertiliser for best results. Trevor is a big fan of the Scotts Osmocote plus organics for flowering plants. It seems to bring out the best growth and foliage colour results.
Plants that have finished flowering should be pruned and shaped as part of your ongoing garden maintenance regime. Don’t be too heavy handed now, just tidy them up, remove spent blooms and they will thank you with plenty of healthy new growth next season.
If your pond is looking a little dirty or you have high levels of string algae growing from the warm weather, add some zeolite. This starves the algae of nutrient, effectively killing it, and absorbs excess ammonia and other impurities in the water.
Top-dress tired lawns now with an organic soil improver and a wetting agent. Water this treatment in well and your lawn should respond quickly with renewed growth. If your lawn is heavily thatched, hire a vertimower to remove old growth that may have become water-repellent. In areas of heavy soil or compaction, use a corer or spike to aerate the turf and loosen it up so nutrients and water can better penetrate to the lawn’s root level.
Take time to clean out your gutters and drainage channels that run into the garden before too much rain falls. Add the debris to the compost bin to later recycle those nutrients back into the garden.
What to plant
April is a great month to add native plants to your garden. Take a drive around the neighbourhood and visit your local garden centre to discover what grows well where you live. Endemic species will invariably thrive and are often amongst the best water-wise choices. Once established, these plants shouldn’t need any supplementary watering. Planting seedlings at this time of year is often the most cost-effective and successful way to establish native plants. The bigger the plant does not always mean the most successful transplant outcomes.
Plant herbaceous perennials now to allow them to establish before winter really sets in. This will give you a timely spring flower display.
Plant your spring-flowering bulbs now too. If you are growing tulips this year, don’t forget to put them in the fridge in the crisper at about 4 degrees Celsius for a week or two before planting. This will give you the best possible flower display.
Plant winter herbs now. These include; parsley, sage, dill, chives and rocket. For exotic dishes such as laksas, try planting Vietnamese mint and coriander.
If you haven’t already, get your winter crops into the ground. These include the brassicas such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli, as well as greens such as the super-nutritious kale and spinach. Peas and beans are also great winter crops. Many of these need trellises, so get these up before you plant the seeds or seedlings to avoid disturbing the delicate little plants later on.
It is also time to get your own crop of garlic into the ground. You will need to get your hands on some spray-free local garlic, either from your own crop from last year or that of a friend’s, or through a garden centre or online gardening retail outlet. Garlic purchased from the grocery section of the supermarket is often imported and sprayed so that it cannot sprout, so is no good to plant. Break the bulb into individual cloves and plant the cloves into improved soil. Fertilise regularly and keep watering consistent.
Pumpkins are in abundance at the moment. Check out Lisa Adams’ article on our website for a delicious recipe for pumpkin lassi. Pumpkins store wonderfully in a dry location and every type brings different flavours.
Local kiwi fruit are also starting to show up in the markets and shops. These are best eaten fresh – scooped straight out of the skin, added to a fruit salad, thrown into a smoothie or coupled with some vanilla icecream for dessert. You can also get creative with them in baking, such as in a tart or cake, cook them with strawberries into a jam or even use them in a marinade for meat!
Look out for the delicious golden kiwi fruit, which is slightly sweeter and absolutely delicious. A new arrival that you should try is the kiwi berry, a small thin-skinned kiwi fruit that’s delicious eaten fresh.