Spring is the time to get your flowering annuals in the ground for spectacular colour come summer and autumn. Think Ageratum, Delphinium, hollyhock, Linaria, lupin, Verbena and wallflowers.
Now is the time to also plant out bulbs, such as Agapanthus, Clivia and Gladiolus. For these varieties, plant them twice as deep as the bulb is tall and the same distance apart, pointed end up. Ensure your soil is free-draining; you may need to mound the soil up around the bulb to help with this. Keep them well watered during the growing season.
Citrus will establish well if planted during spring, so look at adding an orange, lemon or lime to your productive garden. Feed them well with a citrus-specific fertiliser and water deeply. Passionfruit also transplant well now. Choose a sunny position and enrich the soil with plenty of organic matter before planting. Look for ‘Nellie Kelly’, ‘Panama Red’ and ‘Panama Gold’. If you have an established vine, prune it back by removing old wood to encourage fresh, new growth then fertilise.
In the vegetable garden, it is time to plant:
- Green beans
September is a good time to plant green manure into empty garden beds. Peas or lucerne are ideal and fast-growing. Just before they flower, dig them into the soil to add plant nutrient, nitrogen and rich organic matter.
Fertilise Camellias mid-spring to promote further growth and development. Use a specially blended fertiliser for best results.
Take the opportunity provided by pleasantly warm, sunny days to tidy up around the backyard. This will reduce the impact of garden pests and disease, as tall weeds, fallen leaves and fruit left to rot on the ground provide an excellent breeding ground for unwelcome visitors.
Pelargoniums will just about have finished flowering, so give them light trim to remove the flower heads and tidy up the plants. Woody herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage, wormwood, rue and southernwood can also be cut back by about one-third to assist in bushier growth and help strengthen the plant. For the culinary herbs, don’t waste the cuttings – strip the leaves and dry them for use in later months.
Nectarines and peaches may be experiencing the fungal disease leaf curl. Control it by spraying with copper oxychloride as the buds are swelling on the stems. It is important to treat leaf curl before the leaves have formed, or the new shoots could be damaged by the spray.
Loquats are coming into season in spring and are well worth a try. The yellow to orange pear-shaped fruit are sweetly tart and make great jams, jellies, chutneys and compotes.
Rhubarb is another spring winner. Harvest stems over two years old for sweet crumbles, tarts and pies. The stems must be cooked prior to eating due to the presence of oxalates (the leaves are especially high in this substance so do not eat them at all).