This Second Week in the Late Spring Garden:
The Waning Moon Cycle fills this week deepening to Last Quarter Moon 11 November. This is a good week for planting and sowing root crops and establishing anything needing a period of root development before extensive top growth begins.
High Points This Week:
Early in the week while water retention remains high is the best time to harvest fruits and vegetables for immediate use. This produces crisp and succulent produce and delicious jam and juices. Because of the general benevolence at this time of the year, with care almost anything can be planted or sown this week. Weather permitting, this means that transplanted seedlings are more likely to take and not wilt.
The Waning Moon Cycle is classically the time to plant root crops and for general root development. The possible exception could be 8-9 November. These days might prove more difficult for successful planting of anything tender while the Moon remains in sidereal Gemini (barren air sign). But with care Gemini Moon is an excellent time to plant or sow all manner of double or multiple flowers like Dahlia, Gladioli, Tuberose, Tuberous Begonia and vegetables like Beans, Corn, Peanuts, Peas or truss-type Tomato like Cherry Tomato.
The most benevolent ‘best’ planting day this week is likely to be 10 November while the Moon transits the fertile water sign of sidereal Cancer. Weather permitting this should be an excellent time to plant or sow all root crops and a wide variety of flowering and ornamental plantings plus anything from containers.
It is also a good time to liquid feed and water. Liquid feeding and watering has the best chance of being uplifted into the plants when applied from early morning into the early afternoon. Later day watering will be pulled more strongly into the ground where it will help refresh a dry garden by morning.
The remainder of the week the Moon moves through the barren sign of sidereal Leo and then Virgo. This should favour all manner of root crops and starting most warm season flowers and vegetables like Ginger, Kumara, Sweet Potato, Taro, Yam, etc. With care it is possible to plant or sow seed of many hardy flower and vegetable species that thrive in heat and sunshine. General gardening activities are also favoured all week.
Bulbs and Root Development:
The Waning Moon Cycle is traditionally regarded as the ‘best’ time to plant bulbs, corms, tap-rooted perennials, tubers and root crops. While they make very limited top growth at first, they develop a more extensive root system which will later benefit stronger growth and flowering. Planting at this time also tends to encourage larger bulbs, corms and roots plus greater bulb multiplication. This is very beneficial for Gardeners wishing to increase their stock to enhance a large garden or where the plants are being grown commercially for sale of the bulbs more than the blooms. This is also a good time to harvest spring flowering bulbs once their foliage has become pliable and has sufficiently yellowed or dried up.
Bulbs, Corms, Roots and Tubers to Plant:
Achimenes, Acidanthera, Arum/Calla, Caladium, Canna, Chrysanthemum, Clivia, Dahlia, Gerbera, Gladioli, Gloxinia, Gloriosa Lily, Hippeastrum (Amaryllis), and Jacobin Lily; final Asiatic & Oriental Lilies, Montbretia, Ornamental Gingers, Tigridia, Tuberose, Tuberous Begonia, Zantedeschia, Zephyranthes and more.
Whenever growing conditions and weather permit, continue to sow the seeds and plant seedlings of Annuals, Biennial, and many Perennial flowers and Herbs plus Vegetables for Summer and Autumn gardens. Make sure soil remains constantly moist but never soggy or wet and never completely dries out. Strong sunlight and sustained warmth are essential for success. Protecting seed with cloches or some other form of clear covering is very effective at this time of the year, especially if the weather is changeable between dry and wet, cold and hot.
Most of this week is an excellent time to germinate almost any kind of seed. But be aware that celestial and weather extremes plus hungry birds and insect pests can decimate tender seedlings in a very short time. So be caring and guard everything from predation and be vigilant for seasonal changes can happen very quickly at these transitional moments.
Flower Seed to Sow and Seedlings to Plant:
Ageratum, Alyssum, Amaranthus, Aster, Balsam, Basil, Begonia, California Poppy, Celosia, Chrysanthemum, Cleome, Cockscomb, Cornflower, Cosmos, Dahlia (seed), Dianthus, Feverfew, Gazania, Gerbera, Globe Amaranthus, Gypsophila, Impatiens, Kochia, Linaria, Marigold, Nasturtium, Ornamental Peppers, Petunia, Phlox, Portulaca, Rudbeckia, Salpiglossis, Salvia, Sturts Desert Pea, Sunflower, Swan River Daisy, Tithonia, Verbena, Viscaria, Zinnia & much more.
Main crop Vegetables can be easily started now from seedling or seed. Many vegetables have delicate root systems. If these are damaged at transplanting the entire plant is often stunted. Use extreme care when shifting or transplanting seedling vegetables. They are most successfully transplanted from individual plants grown in small containers or small plugs with all roots intact and then carefully shifted to their permanent growing positions. Once transplanted, water them in immediately and probably water them every day whenever there is no rain, especially during dry, sunny and/or windy weather. Never let them wilt or wither, otherwise; they will be set back and probably lost.
When sowing seed, thorough feeding, ground preparation and watering are essential prior to sowing. Sow into moist soil and water over the seed lightly. If at all possible, do not water over the seed bed again until all the seed has germinated. This is especially important with larger seeds like Beans, Gourd, Luffa, Melon, Pumpkin and Squash. In the early stages of germination as the seed case splits and the seedling leaves begin to expand and open, the inner germ containing the first tiny true leaves is left exposed. If water becomes trapped between these expanding leaves, the tender first true leaves can become chilled and rot. If this happens the young seedling crop will be lost.
Whenever possible, sow Vegetable seed direct in the ground where the plants are meant to grow. This is especially true for the following Vegetables varieties which are marked with an (*).
Vegetables to Start Now:
*Beans (all varieties except Broad Beans), *Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbages (early Summer maturing varieties), Cape Gooseberry, Capsicum, *Carrot, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, *Chicory, Chinese Cabbage and green vegetables, Cress, *Cucumber, Eggplant, Endive, Herbs (almost every variety), Kumara, Leek, Lettuce, *Melons, *Mustard, *Okra, *Parsnip, *Peas, *Potato, *Pumpkin, *Radish, Rhubarb, *Salsify, Silverbeet, Spring Onions, *Squash, *Sweet Corn, *Swede, *Turnip, Tomato, Yams, *Zucchini/Marrow and more.
*Indicates varieties with a delicate root system that are difficult to transplant.
Wherever weather conditions remain at all inclement or nights are chilly, once again, consider covering tender vegetable beds or plants with cloches. Newly planted seed can be protected underneath sheets of clear plastic or beneath plastic roof sheeting that is secured with boards or stones, etc. Lift the sheeting or open cloches during the day and close them again before nightfall. Once seedlings are growing strongly and the weather settles this can be removed.
Children’s Gardens Plant Now:
Children (of all ages!) are naturally curious about Nature and usually love gardens. This week provides another wonderful opportunity to start a special garden that might change a life. A novice of any age can learn the art and skills of gardening to great advantage which may well uplift their lives for the better. A children’s garden is often a Blessing that can last much longer than a lifetime. Introducing someone to gardening, especially from an early age, is almost certainly going to produce an individual who will be much more appreciative of Nature and our natural environment. These are the people that will green our world and uplift a bountiful and prosperous future for themselves and their Communities.
Now that the weather is more pleasant, settled and warmer, seeds will germinate rapidly. Well-grown purchased seedlings almost always are successful when planted now, too. So this is an ideal time to introduce someone to the magic world of flowers and seeds. Seedlings and seeds that easily germinate and quickly produce impressive flowers or vegetables often will capture their attention. Once an individual has a positive experience and becomes attracted or enamoured with plants, they will become friends with Nature for life.
If the garden beds are not ready or even started yet, this week is a good week to start preparing a garden bed from the ground up. This will suit the planting and sowing of flowers and vegetables for Summer and Autumn plus beyond. Start planning and preparing now! If the ground were cultivated, fed and prepared this week and next. Seed, seedlings and all necessary materials could be purchased at the same time. This would give the seedlings a chance to harden-off in a sheltered corner before being planted out into the open garden. Next week’s ‘Dark of the Moon’ phase is an ideal time for cultivating, fertilizing, weeding and preparing the soil for planting. Then the Early Summer New Moon arrives 19 November. That starts another good time for planting and sowing that will extend well into December.
The following short list of flowers makes a great children’s garden and works well for the Novice Gardener, too. They are still some of the most endearing of garden favourites.
Easiest Flowers to Grow for a Children’s Garden:
Alyssum, Balsam, Cornflower, Cosmos, Dwarf Dahlia, Marigold, Nasturtium, Sunflower, Viscaria, Zinnia and many more. Also try Summer-flowering Dahlia tubers and Gladioli corms.
Easy Vegetables for a Child’s Garden:
*Beans, *Beetroot, *Carrot, Kumara, Lettuce (especially leaf Lettuce), *Mustard, *Peas, *Potato, *Pumpkin, *Radish, Silverbeet (especially Rainbow Silverbeet), *Squash, *Sweet Corn, *Zucchini and almost all the others Vegetables with a little parental guidance.
(*) Best sown from seed direct where the plants are meant to grow; sometimes difficult to transplant
Growing Vegetable seed in small pots is often a most exciting experience for children because they can see the seeds germinate from close-up. This way they can learn to tell them apart from an early age. Peat pots are also very successful as they can be transplanted directly into the garden because the entire pot is planted and needs no lifting out of its container.
Place the pots in a very sunny position or in very bright light. Bright sunlight produces short, stocky plants with the highest plant health. When grown in lesser light, seedlings stretch upwards and weaken. These often fail later on when transplanted. Check each day that the soil in each pot stays moist but never soggy wet or dry. Peat pots are best grown in a special box or tray that shelters their porous sides and can be kept evenly moist as peat pots dry out much faster than seedlings grown in plastic containers.
Guard all seedling flowers and vegetables from the ravages of hungry Birds, Caterpillars, Earwigs, Slugs, and Snails that can damage or eliminate them overnight. It is best to eliminate these pests now so there is at least a week or two to insure that all predators are gone prior to planting.
Remember to be vigilant as this garden needs to be successful and produce results. Many potentially successful Gardeners have been put-off from ever learning the joys of gardening by a devastating early failure.
Cultivation and Mulching:
Cultivate garden beds frequently for aeration and weed control. Alternatively, continue mulching everything that might possibly dry out over the hot Summer ahead. A well-mulched garden bed needs far less watering and weeding plus will almost always perform better. The best time to apply mulch is directly after heavy rain or generous watering. But if rains should fail, continue mulching semi-moist garden beds anyway to retain whatever water remains in the soil. It is always best to soak the ground first and then apply extra mulch. Then water over the mulch. Applying mulch over dry ground can actually keep it dry and make it more difficult for water to penetrate the mulch to where it is needed!
Spring flowering shrubs can be pruned after flowering. Usually a light trim is all that is needed to improve or maintain their shape; removing any dead, diseased or weak growth and opening the centre of the shrub upward to allow more air and sunlight to penetrate This is also a good time to prune back rather heavily to encourage compact, healthy and strong new growth that will produce next year’s flowers. The same applies to Hedges and Broad-leafed Evergreens and Conifers. Pruning during the Waning Moon Cycle will tend to produce compact new growth. Pruning next week during the Dark of the Moon will greatly reduce new growth. Pruning after the New Moon will encourage bushy and more prolific new growth
Sub Tropical, Tropical and House Plants:
All tender subtropical, tropical and almost all houseplants will start growing more strongly with the additional day length, extra ultraviolet and warmer temperatures. Make the most of this new growth by keeping all these plants well fed & regularly watered. Lightly prune to maintain their shape and remove faded and yellowing older foliage to stimulate healthy new growth. If ever indoor plants and tropicals needed a prune back it is best done now because an entire growing season lies ahead. The weeks ahead this month as one of the finest times to feed, repot and trim houseplants and all (sub) tropical species.
Feed and lightly prune (sub) tropical species like Allamanda, Bignonia, Bougainvillea, Gardenia, Hibiscus, Ixora, Mandevilla, Murreya, Palms, Pandorea, Stephanotis, and most others; removing all diseased, weak and/or winter-killed growth. This will help stimulate new growth and flowering. Be careful to remove or trim back only what is essential as new growth often contains flower buds, especially on Bougainvillea and Gardenia. All these species are best mulched with compost or well-aged manure. Then apply an appropriate granular fertilizer sprinkled directly over this mulch. Water this in lightly. The fertilizer will dissolve into the compost where it will be held like water in a sponge and will slowly be released to the plants’ roots below. This is a much more economical and efficient way of feeding.
Groundcovers, Perennials, Shrubs, Trees and Vines:
Almost any of these that have been grown in containers can be planted now before weather becomes too dry. Water them in thoroughly and continue to water them regularly until they appear to have become established. Mulch them now in preparation for drier and hotter Summer conditions to follow. Things planted this late in the season will almost always require extra care and watering this first Summer. If they can make it through until Autumn rains return, they will be permanently established.
Feeding Bramble and Cane Fruits plus Blueberries:
These delicious fruits should be fed with a special fertiliser made for acid-loving species; or add flowers of Sulphur to a general garden fertiliser. It is also important to feed Grape, Kiwi and Passion Fruit vines; Citrus, Pepino, Fruit Trees and most other fruit-bearing species. Use a good well-balanced General Garden Fertiliser or one especially made for Fruit Trees or Tomatoes. For young fruits to expand and grow properly, they need regular watering and usually respond well to good mulching.
Celebrate This Magic Moment!
Late Spring is traditionally a time of great beauty and lush growth. This month marks a turning point in the season. The Sun is rapidly climbing in the sky and daylight hours are increasing. This produces more sustained warmth and greatly increasing sunlight intensity that often results in many gardens looking their best for the entire year. In a Benevolent season, the month culminates in a crescendo of colour, fragrance and growth known as ‘High Spring’. Garden festivals and rambles happen throughout this month while many gardens are looking their best. It is often an ideal time to visit botanical parks and fine gardens that are open to the public and celebrate the glory of gardening as only Nature can provide.
The Last Quarter Moon opens this week and strengthens into the ‘Dark of the Moon’ (16 November) until the New Moon (18-19 November). This is a great week for all general gardening activities. Lunar gravitational extremes and evaporation rates increase, as water retention lowers. Liquid feed and water from sunrise into early afternoon for best effect. Evening watering will be pulled into the ground where it will refresh a dry garden by morning. At times it may be difficult to transplant anything tender.
This Third Week in the Late Spring Garden:
This particular ‘Dark of the Moon’ phase is a time of transition. Cool Spring days have shifted into High Spring. The New Moon 18-19 November (sidereal Scorpio; fertile water sign) marks the lunar beginning of Early Summer. Seasonal Spring flowers, plants and vegetables begin to fade and wither. Many delicate Spring flowers go to seed and start to give way to the blooms of the Summer season ahead. Now is a great time to harvest and save those seeds.
The Moon is strongly ascending in Southern Hemisphere skies all week. As the Moon advances and rises higher in our skies the air flow is pushed ahead of its approach so prevailing winds often swing more northerly or north-westerly which ushers in humid, warm air. As it reaches its peak (22 Nov.) winds often begin to draft upwards from the south. So expect the potential of changeable conditions.
Because the Moon is at its orbital apogee (greatest orbital distance away from the Earth), this lunar event should be benevolent for growth and fairly mild. But this lunar placement often enhances damp or humid weather and when this happens these conditions promote the spread of blight, fungal infections and rot. So make sure everything is protected.
A Time for General Gardening:
This is the best time to make and spread compost or aged manures; cultivate; weed and eliminate noxious vegetation and scrub; foliar spray or drench plantings with liquid fertiliser or spread dry fertilizers; mulch everything against summery conditions.
Water retention in plant tissues tends to reduce leading up to New Moon so this makes an excellent time to: chop and split wood and store for later use; harvest fruits, herbs and vegetables for drying. Days leading up toward New Moon also experience greater celestial extremes that increase gravitational and ground settling. This is because the gravitational pull produced by Moon and Sun and also combined with the Earth in the evening, both lift the ground as they pass overhead and settle it firmly when they are all below the horizon. This tends to lock in and settle anything that has recently been shifted in the soil.
This makes the best time to spread gravel, sand and stones for pathways; lay bricks and paving stones of all types; set fence posts and secure staking; build foundations; initiate building projects of all sorts; create rock gardens; spread polythene liners for ponds; lay Weedmat for landscaped areas.
It is also a good time to mow lawns to keep them short and lightly prune shrubbery to maintain compact shape for longer.
Watering in the morning will enhance flowering and growth. Watering in the evening will revive a dry garden. Liquid feeding produces the best results when applied on bright, mild days in the morning through early afternoon.
A Drying Time:
Lunar gravitational extremes around the New Moon tend to reduce water retention in animals and plants. This particular New Moon during the High Spring period is benevolent, fertile, mild and potentially damper than most. But it is still the best time of the month to cut wood that is meant to cure for some time before it is used.
It is also the best time this month to cut and dry fruits, herbs and vegetables. Harvest seed for long term storage.
Now is the ideal time to prepare new garden beds for planting that begins directly after the next New Moon.
First clear out the old season’s plants, cultivate, weed and enrich land in preparation for Late Spring/Early Summer planting ahead. Almost anything will benefit from feeding at this time of the year. Compost is by far the most beneficial soil additive with the greatest long as well as short term benefits.
Compost is mostly carbon and vegetable fibre held together with cellulose and bacteria. It is filled full of beneficial minerals that plants need for premium growth. The very best compost is that produced from your own land. This is because whatever minerals have been drawn up from the soil by the plants that grew in your garden is now being returned to the land from where it came to complete the cycle.
Compost is highly absorbent, much like a sponge. So any additional chemical or organic fertilizers sprinkled over compost, once dissolved into liquid form through watering, are absorbed within the compost. There they are held where they can be slowly released into the surrounding soil where the plant’s roots can most beneficially use them.
Thus for the very best soil preparation, first weed the garden thoroughly. Then apply a generous layer of compost over the soil. 2.5-5cm/1-2inches of compost is excellent but much more would not go astray, especially on newly turned garden soil that has not been previously used for gardening. Then whiten to no depth the entire bed with a balanced, complete general plant food (6-6-6; 10-10-10, etc.).
If the soil is volcanic or shows signs of green slim or moss, it is an acid soil and would benefit from additional whitening with garden lime or dolomite (best value for the money and longest lasting). Some Gardeners elect to dust lime separately from general garden fertilizers because of the slight chance that the two could adversely react together in the soil. If in doubt, spread the fertilizer and lime about a week apart.
If the soil is heavy clay, consider generous whitening with Gypsum Lime. This type of lime is neutrally pH 7 so compatible with all soil types. While its chemical activity is slow, over time it will transform clay soil into small clay balls much like perlite. Once the soil is broken down and opened this allows much better air, root and water penetration, thus much better growth and plant health.
Dig in these soil additives to a depth of about 30cm/1ft. Turn the soil several times so that it is well mixed. Then water over it generously and leave it to ‘cure’ for about a week before attempting to plant. This gives the fertilizers time to dissolve into the compost and where it can become available to the bacteria that will transform it into the pure minerals that later plantings will absorb for maximum growth.
Planting and Sowing:
This entire week is good for planting dormant bulbs, corms, roots and tubers; sowing root crops; carefully planting anything with an extensive root system or needing a period of strong root development; plus starting anything that is dormant and hardy. Because this is such an ideal moment in the growing season, almost anything hardy can be planted all month with very little risk provided there is little root damage or disturbance at planting followed by regular aftercare. This includes many fruiting and ornamental brambles and canes, shrubs, trees and vines that have been container grown.
It is also possible to sow seed of many things this week. This includes the seeds of many tap-rooted annuals, biennials and perennials. Many of these are traditionally sown directly where they are intended to grow. But due to potential lunar extremes, this might be safest sown into containers intended for later transplanting.
The exceptions for planting are anything delicate or tender i.e. young seedlings; plants with a soft and vulnerable root system; anything whose roots will be cut back and/or damaged while transplanting; tropical species that might experience chill or cold drafts when planting into their permanent position. All these are best planted after the New Moon. If they must be planted out now do so with greatest care and follow-up with daily aftercare and protection from potential environmental extremes.
Watch both the current and extended weather forecast and if conditions appear benevolent make the most of a good opportunity.
Flowers to Sow and Seedlings to Transplant with Care Now:
Ageratum, Alyssum, Amaranthus, Aster, Balsam, Basil, Begonia, California Poppy, Celosia, Chrysanthemum, Cleome, Cockscomb, Cornflower, Cosmos, Dahlia (seed), Dianthus, Feverfew, Gazania, Gerbera, Globe Amaranthus, Gypsophila, Impatiens, Kochia, Linaria, Marigold, Nasturtium, Ornamental Peppers, Petunia, Phlox, Portulaca, Rudbeckia, Salpiglossis, Salvia, Sturts Desert Pea, Sunflower, Swan River Daisy, Tithonia, Verbena, Viscaria, Zinnia & much more.
Vegetable Root Crops to Easily Plant or Sow:
Beets, Carrot, Chicory, Kumara & Yams, Rhubarb (containers), Parsnip, Potato, Radish, Salsify, Spring Onions, Swedes, and Turnips plus more locally.
Vegetables to Start Now with Care:
*Beans (all varieties except Broad Beans), *Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbages (early Summer maturing varieties), Cape Gooseberry, Capsicum, *Carrot, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, *Chicory, Chinese Cabbage and green vegetables, Cress, *Cucumber, Eggplant, Endive, Herbs (almost every variety), Kumara, Leek, Lettuce, *Melons, *Mustard, *Okra, *Parsnip, *Peas, *Potato, *Pumpkin, *Radish, Rhubarb, *Salsify, Silverbeet, Spring Onions, *Squash, *Sweet Corn, *Swede, *Turnip, Tomato, Yams, *Zucchini/Marrow and locally many more.
(*) Best sown from seed directly where the plants are meant to grow or started in individual containers and later transplanted when large enough to handle with care not to damage or disturb their roots.
Planting into Containers:
Many species of bulbs and some root crops grow almost as well in containers as they do in the ground. The larger the plant, the broader and larger the pot they will need in order to grow them successfully. Some bulbs like Hymenocallis (Ismene) with spreading roots do much better in quite large tubs. The longer the root, the deeper the pot they will require for optimum results. Exhibition Carrots are often grown in deep barrels filled with peat, sand and fertilizer.
Container growing is a great advantage for those Gardeners who don’t have available space for in-ground planting ; whose gardens have damp or soggy ground; heavy clay; unusually dry or sandy soil; or otherwise contaminated or poor land; plus cooler climates that experience wintry freezing or very arid climates where plants need special attention for success. Container-grown bulbous plants get much better drainage than those grown in wet ground. Frost-tender species grown in containers and pots can be brought under cover for protection and warmth against winter chill. Containers can be protected and shielded against drying, hot winds or otherwise inclement conditions. Container grown plants that require a period of dormancy can be removed from their growing position once growth and flowering fade and rested in an appropriate environment for their maturity. And for Gardeners “on the move” containers can be taken with you. This means you can have a garden even if you are renting.
Dark of the Moon Sowing:
Some Gardeners prefer to sow seed that is difficult to germinate during the Last Quarter Moon Cycle (11-18 November) and especially the ‘Dark of the Moon’ phase (16-18 November). This way the seed is exposed to greater celestial/gravitational extremes that are thought to stimulate germination. Consequently, if everything goes well, the young seedlings emerge quickly and are up and ready to make the most of the next growing cycle once the New Moon arrives. This particular ‘Dark of the Moon’ appears to be relatively benevolent so a good time to attempt early seed sowing.
The cautious Gardener remembers to guard and closely watch emerging seed daily to maintain optimum growing conditions. This is traditionally the most extreme phase in the monthly lunar cycle. Chilling or drying out from constant winds; excessive sunshine or intense rainfall; predation from disease and pests are all a probability during the ‘dark’ lunar phase. Any one of these factors happening just once is all that is necessary to kill the seed germ! But the reward for the vigilant Gardener is to have their seedling more than a week ahead of the rest.
Bulbs, Corms, Roots and Tubers to Plant:
Acidanthera, Agapanthus, Alocasia (Kris Plant or Elephant Ear), Amaryllis and Hippeastrurn, Caladium, Calocasia (Elephant Ear), Canna, Clivia, Dahlia, Galtonia (Cape Hyacinth), Gladioli, Gloriosa and Jacobin Lily, Hymenocallis, Lycoris (Spider Lily), Nerine (Cape Lily), Tigridia (Shell Flower), Tuberous Begonia, Tuberose, Zantedeschia (Arum/Calla) and Zephyranthes (Rain Lily)and many other Summer and Autumn flowering bulbs.
The true Amaryllis, A. belladonna (Naked Ladies), Lycoris (Spider Lily) and all related Nerines (Guernsey or Cape Lily) can be planted and/or shifted as soon as their Spring foliage dies away and they enter dormancy.
Dark of the Moon is often a time of withering and fading. Spring flowering bulbs are a classic example of this fading and withering at this time of the year. Allow the foliage of Spring-flowering bulbs to die-off naturally without cutting away or tying up their foliage. While the bulb foliage remains crisp and green, this is a good time to give them a final dusting or liquid feeding (best) with a good quality bulb fertiliser. Use a formula that is higher in Potassium/Potash and rather low in Nitrogen with a little more Phosphate. This will encourage stronger bulb development which includes the embryonic tiny flower that is now starting to form within the developing bulbs. A last feeding now can improve flowering next year.
Once the bulb foliage begins to discolour or yellow, stop feeding or watering and encourage the bulb foliage to dry until it completely withers. Then it can be cleared away. Make sure the earthen holes where the plants were growing are completely covered to guard against Bulb Fly Maggots ruining the dormant bulbs. When bulbs are planted in locations that remain dry over the summer months, they can be left to rest in the ground. This is especially true in cooler, dry climate zones.
Hardy Hyacinth and Narcissus, plus many minor bulbs and some varieties of red and yellow or species Tulip (closely related to their wild forbearers) often can remain in their ground growing positions quite successfully.
Bulbs growing in climates (especially humid, subtropical climates) with ample summer rainfall or when planted in garden beds that are irrigated throughout the summer months, should be dug once foliage yellows and withers. Be aware that most spring-flowering bulbs prefer a dry to semi-dry soil throughout their summer and Autumn dormancy period. A single generous watering during the dry summertime period of dormancy is sometimes enough to cause the bulb germ to sprout prematurely and then the entire bulb usually succumbs to rot and is lost. For this reason hybrid Narcissus and showy Hyacinth varieties plus almost the entire range of hybrid Tulips are best dug once they are completely dormant.
Tulips are rather easily lifted once their foliage begins to discolour and wither. They are ready to lift once their foliage is fading and supple; easily twisted around one’s finger without snapping as it would when crisp and green. Sometimes they can be pulled up by hand with gentle steady pressure. Grasp the plant firmly and lift with a firm and steady upward pull. Avoid a quick yank as this will almost certainly remove the foliage from the bulb. If the bulb is anchored too firmly, the stem will either resist being lifted and/or will snap away from the bulb. In either case the bulb will then require manual digging to recover the bulb.
It is always best to leave Tulip foliage attached to the bulb until it has completely dried out and pulls away like crisp straw. When harvesting/digging or pulling up ‘semi-green’ Tulips, stand the bulb and its fading foliage upright or slanted in boxes or flats so the mineral rich sap can flow down into the bulb to help prepare it for healthy dormancy and flowering next year. Many bulbs can be clustered together in this manner. Do not water them or place damp soil around the bulbs. Let them dry out and wither away naturally.
Once dug and dried out, the withered foliage is removed and composted. The dry bulbs are put into cool, dry storage where they can remain dormant throughout the summer months. Place them in a somewhat airy, dark, lower humidity situation in open boxes or trays, mesh bags or buried in dry perlite, vermiculite, etc. They should remain cool at a temperature of around 18.3C/65F or less but not below freezing. If temperatures remain too high, bulbs can cook or dry out. Tulips will often split into several smaller bulbs when subjected to continual warm temperatures so cooler is better.
Bulbs can be sorted for quality and size at the time of drying and storage or later in Summer or Early Autumn before they are refrigerated or replanted.
Spring-flowering bulbs grown in containers are fed on much the same as those in the ground. But because of their confined growing space in their container, they respond better to extra feeding prior to going into dormancy. Often container-grown bulbs will go dormant more quickly after flowering than those grown in the ground.
Once their foliage begins to fade and wither, their pots can be turned on their sides and stacked in a cool and dry location to keep them dormant and dry. Alternatively, the bulbs can be lifted and dried then placed in cool and dark storage. This is best in damp and humid climates or wherever the soil is liable to not completely dry out. Hardy Narcissus pots (classic yellow Daffodils and Mediterranean species like Erlicheer and Paper White) can be placed in a dry location outdoors, perhaps underneath shrubbery. There they will remain dormant although their root system may not ever entirely wither away. Later on in late Summer or early Autumn they can be brought out and fertilized and watered to start their growing cycle again.
Liquid Feeding and Watering:
The Moon shifts to the east in its orbit around the Earth about 13.2 degrees every day. As the Moon enters the ‘Dark of the Moon’ phase, its position moves it ever-closer closer into alignment with the Sun. At New Moon both Moon and Sun briefly occupy almost the same alignment in the sky.
Gravitational and tidal forces begin to increase during the Last Quarter Moon Cycle and especially ‘Dark of the Moon’ phase leading up to the New Moon. This is because the Moon and Sun’s gravitational pull on the Earth is starting to combine. As the Moon, closely followed by the Sun rises in the east and passes overhead, their combined gravitational force creates a strong upward pull in plants as well as tides. Sometime even the land can rise by up to 30cm if the Moon sweeps overhead. After the Moon and Sun set, their gravitational pull combines with that of the Earth to create a stronger pull downward into the roots and soil.
This can be used to advantage when liquid feeding and watering your garden. If plants are fed and watered as the Sun is rising and until early afternoon, this liquid will usually be quickly uplifted into the plant so will improve flowering and enhance growth.
When plants are fed and watered later in the afternoon and into the evening hours, liquid fertilizer and water will be pulled into the roots and deeply into the soil. So later afternoon feeding will be less effective on container plants and for immediate top-growth and flowering but will enhance root crops and encourage root development.
But with downward gravitational forces increasing into the evening and overnight, this can be advantageously used to pull water more deeply down into the roots and soil. This will refresh dry ground and wilting plants especially during times of drought.
Thus as a general rule:
Feed and water in the morning for increase flowering and top growth; feed and water later in the day and evening hours to refresh a dry garden and promote better drought resistance and root growth. Morning raises growth; evening sets it in.
Continue light pruning of broad-leafed Evergreens, Conifers, Hedges, Shrubs, Trees and Vines to keep them contained and shapely. The best time to prune most flowering species is immediately after their blooming period finishes. Thus this is a good time to prune to reduce new growth and keep plants looking bushy and tight. It is an excellent time to clip back established Conifers and mature hedges, ornamental shrubbery and trees plus topiary to keep them looking tidy for longer.
Because celestial forces are extreme this week, avoid very extreme pruning now. Cutting back very hard into old wood can sometimes cause sap to ‘bleed’ excessively out of open cuts while the Moon and Sun sweep overhead. Then once the Moon, Sun and Earth’s gravitational fields combine after dusk, this can result in air being pulled into open vascular bundles in the fresh wound. This can greatly reduce the rate of regrowth; result in more die-back than was expected or sometimes even kill an older plant.
To encourage bushy and strong new growth on recently planted specimens or young hedges, shrubs and trees, prune after the New Moon (18-19 November). When pruned on a Waxing Moon Cycle, Moon and Sun are moving apart so gravitational extremes diminish; plus there is an increasing level of Moonlight each night adding to the growing day length each day. This encourages lots of bushy new growth so pruned plants tends to bounce back much faster.
The best time to severely cut back an old shrub, tree or vine with the hope of regenerating it, is during the Waxing Moon Cycle and up until around the Full Moon (4 December). Gravitational forces mellow and water retention increases as does available Moon and sunlight creating the best possible conditions for recovery and rejuvenation.
Lawns can be fed provided they can be watered both before and after feeding. Liquid feeding eliminates quite as much watering as is necessary when spreading a granular fertilizer. But the results are more pronounced when applying a slow release lawn food than can be achieved with a single liquid fertilizer application.
This is a good time to mow lawns to keep them short for a little longer.
The final weeks of seeding an existing or new lawn are here. Even now, any germinating young grass is going to need some assistance to overcome summer drought and heat.
Plan and Prepare:
This is also an excellent time for planning, research and preparations for the Summer growing season ahead. Make necessary purchases of fertilisers, mulches, soils and sprays, plants and seeds, hardware and tools plus all other supplies you will need during the busy weeks/months ahead. Most materials and supplies you might need in the times ahead are very likely abundant now. Many sales and specials often happen around this time so take advantage of these opportunities. Advanced preparations now can save valuable time later.
Research and Learn:
Learning is an endless process and easiest when you are learning about what you intend to grow. The experiences of others who have already grown what you intend to grow can eliminate all sorts of mistakes. There is a wealth of knowledge available both on the Internet, at your local library and from Gardeners who reside in your area.
Many beautiful gardens are open now while they are at their best. Make the effort to meet their care-taker Gardeners and never be afraid to ask them for ideas. Their failures and successes are an invaluable reference that can make your gardening experiences much more fulfilling and profitable.
Always make notes as you go about how others grew things successfully. A small note pad and pen tucked away in a pocket can prove an invaluable asset. Immediately record this information into a diary or write it on the seed packet or pot; perhaps on a notice board or wherever you can quickly find this valuable information to guide your gardening activities in the busy weeks ahead.
High Spring merges with Early Summer on the Waxing Moon Cycle. First Quarter Moon arrives 27 November. Some brilliant planting, sowing and general gardening days lie ahead. These are some of the finest times of the year for gardening!
This Forth Week in the Late Spring Garden:
Great Planting Week ahead!
The full range of beautiful and bright Summer flowers (annuals, biennials, perennials) can be planted and sown; also start container grown shrubs, trees and vines; fruits; groundcovers plus all Summer herbs and vegetables that produce their crops above the ground. Increasing day length and brightening (waxing) Moon light combined with rapidly growing Sun intensity and its associated warmth will insure the best chance of planting success with care at this time for the warm season ahead. In mild and subtropical climate zones all subtropical and tropical plants can be planted.
Stay Alert for Changeable Weather:
This Early Waxing Moon reaches peak ascension (rises higher in the sky) in Southern Hemisphere skies and begins to descend starting 22 November. As the Moon reaches its greatest ascent and then shifts direction, this often pushes humid, warm air against cooler air dragged up from southern latitudes. When this cold pool of air pushes against the increasingly humid tropical warmth the result is sometimes storms, turbulence and weather extremes.
So remain alert! While frosts are unlikely, even a few cold nights (low temperatures below 12C/53.6F) combined with damp or wet weather and persistent cold winds can produce chilling effects on tender plants almost as severe as a frosty night. Even a few minutes of hail or pounding rain can damage tender plantings. The icy rain that comes with hail can also quickly chill tender young growth. Once plant tissue is damaged, it becomes more vulnerable to infection from disease and fungus. Be prepared to shelter all tender plantings until at least the end of the month.
What a great time to start sowing seed! Sunlight is strong and the air is becoming pleasantly mild and soil temperatures are rising. So provided ample moisture is available, this is one of the most successful and safest times of the year to germinate almost any kind of seed. The advantage of sowing from seed is the large number of plants that can be produced for a small cost; and also the variety of things that can be produced. It is the best way to create your own hybrid plants that are ideally suited to your particular garden microclimate.
Most seeds respond to warm soil with a minimum soil temperature above 12/15C/53.6-59F and ideally above 21.1C/70F. Almost all need constant soil moisture, but never soggy, wet soil. Some seeds germinate better in darkness, thus these seeds are covered with soil when sown. All seedlings need bright light, preferably direct sunshine once they germinate to keep them growing healthy, stocky and strong. If a young seedling ever elongates or ‘stretches’ upward due to insufficient light, it will usually remain weak and often will fail.
Plants and their seeds are very much like us. Finding the best place to grow and sow seed is very much like finding a good place in which to live. If the site is comfortable all the time with a sunny warm aspect, sheltered from chill with ample moisture, that would suit us, it will probably suit plants and their seedlings as well.
Flowers to plant or Sow Now:
Ageratum, Alyssum, Amaranthus, Aster, Balsam, Basil, Begonia, California Poppy, Celosia, Chrysanthemum, Cleome, Cockscomb, Coneflower, Cornflower, Cosmos, Dahlia (seed), Dianthus, Feverfew, Gazania, Geranium, Gerbera, Globe Amaranthus, Gypsophila, Impatiens, Kochia, Linaria, Marigold, Nasturtium, Ornamental Peppers, Petunia, Phlox, Portulaca, Rudbeckia, Salpiglossis, Salvia, Sturts Desert Pea, Sunflower, Swan River Daisy, Tithonia, Verbena, Viscaria, Zinnia & much more. In cooler climates add to this list: Calceolaria, Calendula, Cineraria, Pansy, Snapdragon, Viola and Violets.
Annual flowers for warm-weather gardens are sown now. In colder climates where night time temperatures are still dipping below 12C/53.6F start these in a glasshouse, under cloches or in a very sheltered and warm environment. Under ideal conditions, seed will often germinate within days. Many times the fastest maturing of these species will begin flowering in as little as 6-8 weeks during the peak of Summer. They often catch up or overtake seedlings started earlier when conditions were cooler and less hospitable than they should be now.
Easiest Summer Flowers to Start Now:
Ageratum, Alyssum, Amaranthus, Aster, Balsam, California Poppy, Cleome (Spider Flower) Celosia and Cockscomb, Cornflower, Cosmos, Dahlia (from seed), Dianthus, Herbs (especially Basil, Chamomile, Coriander and Parsley), Marigolds, Nasturtium, Phlox, Portulaca, Salvia, Sunflower, Tithonia, Viscaria, Zinnia and many more.
This is a great time to plant or sow a wide range of vegetables for the summer garden. Start vegetables that produce their crops above the ground. Generally excellent planting conditions continue through the remainder of this month.
Main crop Vegetables can be easily started now from seedling or seed. Many vegetables have delicate root systems. If these are damaged or significantly disturbed at transplanting the entire plant is often stunted and may prove useless. Use extreme care when shifting or transplanting seedling vegetables. They are most successfully transplanted from individual plants grown in small containers or small plugs taken from punnets with all roots intact and then carefully shifted to their permanent growing positions. Always press them firmly into the soil and water-in immediately.
Whenever possible, sow Vegetable seed direct in the ground where the plants are meant to grow. This is especially true for the following Vegetables varieties which are marked with an (*) which means they are best sown directly from seed where they are meant to grow and not transplanted.
Vegetables to Sow or Transplant:
*Beans (all varieties except Broad Beans), *Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbages (early Summer maturing varieties), Cape Gooseberry, Capsicum, *Carrot, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, *Chicory, Chinese Cabbage and green vegetables, Choko, Cress, *Cucumber, Eggplant, Endive, Herbs (almost every variety), Kumara, Leek, Lettuce, *Melons, *Mustard, *Okra, *Parsnip, *Peas, *Potato, *Pumpkin, *Radish, Rhubarb, *Salsify, Silverbeet, Spring Onions, *Squash, *Sweet Corn, *Swede, *Turnip, Tomato, Yams, *Zucchini/Marrow and more.
(*) Sow direct where the plants are meant to grow.
Sowing Vegetable seed in small peat pots and sometimes even in paper cups is often most exciting for children because they can see the seeds germinate and then watch them grow from close-up. This way they can compare one variety from another and learn to tell them apart from an early age. Peat pots are also very successfully transplanted directly into the garden. Paper cups work almost as well because slits made in the bottom of the paper cup to allow proper drainage can simply be enlarged and the entire paper cup is planted in the garden. Roots will soon grow through the slits and the cup will slowly disintegrate into the soil. Unwaxed cups work best.
Tender Summer Vegetables:
This is a great time to plant or sow tender warm weather vegetables like: Beans, Capsicum, Cucumber, Eggplant, Gourds, Kumara and Yams, Lettuce, Luffa, Melons, Okra, Pumpkins and Squash, Marrow & Zucchini plus Sweet Corn, Tomato and many more locally. Most of these demand strong sunlight, warm air and high soil temperatures. Many take several months to reach maturity. So when planted now, they have the very best of what they need to guarantee successful crops.
The Late Spring/Early Summer Waxing Moon Cycle is an excellent time to plant and sow such Summer Vegetables like: Choko, Gourds, Luffa, Okra, Maize, Popcorn and Sweet Corn; plus Capsicum and all Peppers, Egg Plant, Passion Fruit, Pepino, Scarlet Runner and Climbing Beans, Squash and Pumpkins, Tomato and anything else needing strong sunshine, warmth and a tropical growing season.
The dates of 26-28 November while the Moon passes in front of constellation Aquarius (sidereal) and waxes into its First Quarter is traditionally considered some of the finest of all days for planting from containers and sowing seed of vines both ornamental and vegetable. Don’t miss this opportunity as it doesn’t come very often!
This nearly ideal time of the planting year is a wonderful time to introduce children and novice Gardeners to the magic world of bulbs, flowers, seeds and vegetables. Seedlings and seeds that germinate easily; grow quickly and produce impressive flowers and food often will capture their attention. Once a child (of any age) becomes attracted to Nature and enamoured with plants, they will become friends for life.
It takes but one generation of Nature Lovers to change the way we all live and improve the natural balance we share with Nature and this Planet. If everyone cared enough to grow a garden successfully our world would be profoundly changed for the better.
The follow short list of flowers is particularly easy, hardy, reliable and rewarding. Thus they are excellent choices for the novice Gardener and make a great children’s garden.
Best Flowers for a Children or Novice Flower Garden:
Alyssum, Balsam, Cornflower, Cosmos, Dwarf Dahlia, Marigold, Nasturtium, Sunflower, Viscaria, Zinnia and many more. Also try Summer-flowering Dahlia tubers and Gladioli corms (cooler and drier climates); plus a selection of easily grown Vegetables.
Easy Vegetables for the Novice Gardener or a Reliable Child’s Garden:
*Beans, *Beetroot, *Carrot, Kumara, Lettuce (especially leaf Lettuce), *Mustard, *Peas, *Potato, *Pumpkin, *Radish, Silverbeet (especially Rainbow Silverbeet), *Squash, *Sweet Corn, Tomato (consistently sunny and warm positions only!), *Zucchini and almost all the others with Gardening Parental Guidance.
(*) These seeds are best carefully planted from containers or seed sown direct where the plants are meant to grow as these are often difficult to successfully transplant.
Seedlings that have been well-grown in a nursery almost always are successful when planted now, too. This saves ( 6-8 ) weeks of time and gets a head start on the garden which can be very important in cooler climates with a shorter growing season.
Before purchasing seedlings, make sure that they look healthy, stocky and strong with few if any damaged diseased or yellowing leaves. Tiny seedlings whose leaf area hardly covers the space they are growing in may be alright to purchase. But you will have to grow them on for perhaps a few weeks before they are strong enough to withstand transplanting into an open garden bed.
Make sure to examine the base of the seedling container or punnet. Some roots may be just beginning to protrude from the bottom of their pot or punnet. That is good because it means the seedlings have matured enough to be ready for a shift into the garden. Their roots are already searching for this opportunity.
Avoid most seedling punnets that have a large network of roots protruding strongly through the drainage holes of their container. These are likely to be stressed and past their best. Usually it is better to avoid purchasing seedlings (or most any plant) that has created a great tangle of solid roots (called “root-bound”) in their container. These have grown on longer than they should in their container. They are often difficult to separate and their solid root mass often causes them to stunt.
But there are exceptions. When seedlings are grown in difficult and extreme locations, it is often the advanced and more mature seedling with a big root system that will survive when the tender and young ones are often overwhelmed by their environment.
Although it is traditional to separate each seedling growing within a punnet, it is also quite acceptable to plant the entire root mass intact without any plant or root separation. This insures almost no root disturbance. This is very effective when attempting to grow and successfully transplant ‘difficult’ ‘hard-to-transplant’ and tap-rooted species.
It is possible to start (and even grow to maturity) an entire garden sown into containers or punnets. Feed on the punnets until the plants are well established; possibly even displaying their early blooms. Then prepare the garden bed as per normal. Choose a benevolent, cloudy and damp day to transplant these more mature punneted plants into their final growing position. Provide a little extra room between each punnet so the seedlings can spread out. Lightly cover over each punnets root mass with a little extra soil and firm them into position.
Once planted, lightly push each seedling outward away from the centre of the root mass. The plants will naturally continue to grow outward and away from the other seedlings. Their roots will do the same thing. This will create a clump of flowers. This also works with a variety of vegetables.
This planting technique is very similar to what happens in Nature when a seed head falls to the ground and germinates. Often a large clump of seedlings emerge and all spread outward and away from the others. The strongest rocket upward while many of the others that grow sideways also surviving to make the spectacular wildflower fields that are found in many parts of the world. None of them ever needed the hands of Humankind to create their natural beauty.
Biennials and Perennials:
Biennials are plants that start from seed the first year; bloom the second and then usually set seed and die. Perennials are often much longer lived plants that sometimes take 2-3 or more years from seed to when they begin to flower.
Start a wide variety of Biennial and Perennials from seed now, as this is one of the best times of the entire year to do this. Germination and new growth should be fast, healthy and strong in the summery conditions. These plants are usually best started in individual containers or seedling flats where the seedlings are later pricked out into separate containers as soon as they are large enough to manage. Many of these stay relatively small while young so would be buried by foliage and lost in most gardens and are also vulnerable to predation. So grow these on in a sheltered nursery environment with the intention of planting them into their permanent positions later in Summer, Autumn or next Spring once they have attained a manageable size.
Advanced container-grown plants either grown on earlier or purchased from a nursery can be easily transplanted into their permanent flowering/growing positions now. Feed and water as necessary to get them established and then they should flourish and thrive in the benevolent growing season ahead. Many Perennials and some Biennials can be started from cuttings now, too. Be ever-watchful that they remain in optimum growing conditions so as to get the best start.
Biennials and Perennials to Plant or Sow Now:
Aconitum/Monkshood (cool climates), Ajuga, Aloe, all Cacti and Succulents, Anemone (Japanese), Arctotis, Asters/Michaelmas Daisies, Astilbe, Bergenia, Campanula, Chrysanthemum, Coneflower, Coreopsis, Delphinium, Digitalis, Erigeron Daisy, Euphoria/Spurge, Fleabane, Gaillardia, Gazania, Geum, Geranium and Pelargoniums, Gypsophila, Helleborus/Winter Rose, Heuchera/Coral Bells, Hollyhock/Althea, Iberis/Candytuft, Ice Plants, Iris, Kniphofia/Red Hot Poker, Lavender, Liatris/Gay Feather, Lobelia (spiking varieties), Lunaria/Honesty, Lychnis, Oenothera/Evening Primrose, Oregano/Marjoram, Oriental Poppy, Ornamental Grasses, Perennial and Woodland Phlox, Penstemon, Rosemary, Rudbeckia/Brown-Eyed Susan/Gloriosa Daisies, Scabiosa/Pincushion, Sedum, Shasta Daisy, Stokesia, Violet, Wallflower amongst others.
Shrubs, Trees and Vines:
Weather permitting; almost any type of shrub, tree or vine including tender (sub) tropical varieties can be successfully transplant now from containers. This includes container-grown fruiting and ornamental brambles and canes, shrubs, trees and vines. But avoid shifting or transplanting bare-root specimens unless continuous and generous care can be provided in the weeks/months ahead during the drought and heat that could follow.
Whenever it is necessary to shift an established specimen while in active growth, make sure to cut back top growth to match up with whatever root system can be salvaged at the time of shifting. Once planted in its new environment, be sure to stake it securely again winds that might rock it back and forth which would break merging soft roots. Keep the plant constantly moist but not soggy. Often a soaker hose that mists over the plant will help maintain hydration of the foliage while the plant’s roots become re-established.
Wherever trees can be adequately and regularly cared-for and watered, this is a good time to plant young Citrus trees from established containers.
Citrus also benefit from spraying at this time in their growing season. If all ripened Citrus has been harvested, then this could be the best time of the year to drench the Citrus trees with a systemic spray. This one comprehensive systemic fungicide/insecticide spray will protect the developing fruits and trees from disease and predation all Summer.
Humid and warm High Spring weather is the ideal breeding ground for nearly invisible but destructive fungal diseases Melanose and Verrucosis that affect the delicate skin of the young fruits. As the fungus attacks the developing fruits, their skins begin to appear cracked, distorted and/or warty. This does not ruin the crop for consumption but seriously detracts from its appearance. Controlling these fungal diseases now better insures a quality harvest.
Organic Growers might elect to use either a Copper or Oil Spray. This sort of organic spray will need to be reapplied regularly throughout Summer and Autumn. An organic spray using soapy water mixed with powdered Copper and/or summer spraying oil is quite effective. A Cheyenne Pepper or its equivalent in powder plus several cloves of Garlic can be pureed in a blender and the juice added to the oil and soap mix to help eradicate insect pests and vermin. Aphids, scale, thrip and whitefly can be controlled by wetting the foliage from underneath and then immediately spraying especially the undersides of the foliage and inner canopy with all-purpose insect spray.
Citrus greatly benefit from an organic mulch of mature compost or well rotted animal manure. This helps maintain even soil moisture and warm temperatures for the trees’ optimum health. The mulch should be spread from just off the trunk outward to the drip line. Lightly whiten over this with a special granular fertilizer made especially for Citrus. Once applied, water this in lightly. The fertilizer salts will dissolve into the compost and will be evenly and slowly distributed to the roots feeding below the compost. Liquid Citrus fertilizers are also available. This feeding will greatly benefit a larger number of young fruit to set rather than drop prematurely.
Make sure Citrus trees receive generous and regular watering as the young fruit are developing. If the trees were to dry out now, much of the young crop could be lost. The first thing that happens when Citrus become excessively dry is to drop its’ crop and then start to wilt. The first tiny fruits dropping should alert the Gardeners to this potential stress. Even if the fruits do not drop, when the tree is starved for sufficient water, the skin of the young fruits begins to harden and becomes inflexible. Then if there is an excessive rainfall or generous irrigation later, the inner pulp begins to swell but the hardened fruit skin cannot expand as it should so the fruits split open and become useless.
Young developing fruits on Apricot, Cherry, Nectarine, Peach and Plum are also prone to dropping when under-watered; or under fed. Make sure these trees receive abundant fertilizer and water, too, so that fruit expand quickly. It is best to irrigate around the base of the trees rather than watering overhead which often results in fungal attack of foliage and fruits. To eliminate possible fungal problems, spray with soapy water mixed with summer oil if weather becomes humid and warm.
In a good season young fruit can exceed what the tree can sustain. The finest fruits are produced when the fruits are 1-2inches/2.5-5cm apart. Some Gardeners go to the trouble of thinning the fruit themselves. This is not essential as the trees naturally do this almost automatically. But thinning the fruits places less stress on the trees and insures a higher quality of the fruits that remain. Thinning is more important for the Commercial and Exhibition Grower than the average Home Gardener.
The same applies to developing Grapes. Thin young developing Grape clusters by about 1/3. Once again, the vines do this almost automatically but the rejected fruits often cling within the cluster instead of dropping off. Thinning the clusters results in much more decorative bunches and larger individual Grapes of higher quality with less chance of disease.
Young Grape vines are encouraged to grow strong new canes. Feed, mulch and water regularly to get quick results. These new vines are systematically trained along trellis or wire supports. Diseased or weak growths are eliminated so that all remaining growth goes into creating a strong structure for the vine. One or two fruiting clusters may be retained to maturity to insure that the vine is of vintage quality. But all other fruits are removed so that maximum energy goes into creating a strong framework.
Mature Grape vines are allowed to produce one to three fruiting clusters on each cane. Some prefer to produce more clusters evenly spaced along only a few mature cordons. The vine is then allowed to produce two to four leaves beyond the final cluster. All remaining growth is removed systematically throughout the remainder of the growing season. This pushes all the energy into producing high quality fruit for consumption rather than rampant growth.
It is permissible to allow the vines to naturally climb and sprawl. Under such conditions a mature vine can cover a vast area. If conditions are airy-dry, sunny and warm enough great masses of fruiting clusters can be produced. While each cluster may be of lesser quality, the ultimate bounty can be much greater. This often suits Gardeners growing Grapes for jam and juice.
Grapes produce their sweetest and most tasty crops when environmental conditions remain very sunny and warm with lower relative humidity. The very finest table Grapes in New Zealand are often produced in larger conservatories or glasshouses. Placing a sheet of Weedmat around the base of a Grape vine also helps boost ground temperatures and thus improves sweetness and taste. Growing them against a very hot and sunny fence or wall also often improves their quality.
Repot houseplants now to capitalise on the bright, warm months ahead when most of this season’s new growth will occur. Since most houseplants are especially placed to fill a set indoor space, usually it is best to control new growth by restricting root development. This is easily done by only increasing one pot size up.
With most indoor plants, especially tender tropical species, avoid repotting smallish plants on their own into very large containers. This can sometimes result in more energy going into root development than new growth. The other draw-back is that over-potting means there is an excess of ‘empty’ soil surrounding the root ball. This can cause root chill or root rot due to excessively wet soil surrounding young roots if ever temperatures drop too low or the container is exposed to chilling drafts.
Once repotted, the plant is either placed back into its original position. Otherwise consider giving it a holiday outside. Once night time temperatures are constantly above 15C/59F and preferably above 21.1C/70F house plants can be taken outdoors for a Summer holiday. Place them in a very sheltered location out of chilling conditions in dappled light or ‘soft’ morning sunshine. Leave them there for several weeks until they acclimatize, then they can be moved into slightly brighter conditions. They will soon grow on rapidly for maximum performance. Avoid placing an indoor plant outdoors in direct hot sunshine as this will invariable lead to sun scorch and may even kill the plant. It is also not advisable to continue moving the plant indoors then outside and back indoors as this can often prove unsettling to the plant rather than improve its health
Continue to regularly feed and water houseplants during periods of bright and mild weather. When well fed, new growth will be rapid and has plenty of time to mature properly before cool weather returns.
Late Spring and Early Summer are ideal times to plant and repot all (sub) tropical plants both outdoors and in the conservatory or glasshouse. (Sub) tropical plants can be planted, shifted/transplanted in the garden as weather and ground temperatures are thoroughly warm.
This gives the best chance for them to re-establish and grow throughout the warm summer months ahead. When transplanting from pot to pot, make sure that the larger new pot allows at least 1inch/2.5cm or more of open space on all sides of the root ball. Use a fresh potting mix suitable for that species that has been enriched lightly to stimulate healthy new growth.
(Sub) Tropical Shrubs, Trees and Vines to Plant or Repot Now:
Allamanda, Banana, Bougainvillea, Bromeliads, Citrus, Calathia, Croton, Cycads, Epiphyllum, Ficus, Gardenia, Hibiscus, Ixora, Macadamia, Maranta, Palms, Port Saint John climber, Stephanotis, Syngonium, Succulents and so many more. Almost all of these tender plants should only be planted in sunny, warm sites that remain chill and frost-free.
Whenever possible, protect tender (sub) tropical species from exposure to strong winds. This is especially important in borderline subtropical and temperate zone climates. Being very sensitive to cold and damp, tender tropicals chill very easily when exposed to cold drafts. Chilling winds are silent killers that can destroy a vulnerable tropical species almost as quickly as freezing temperatures.
Choose the planting location of tender (sub) tropical species very carefully. Well before planting, if at all possible, go outdoors on a cold, stormy and windy day and observe the environmental conditions of the planting site. With a wet hand, feel over the potential planting site. If your hand feels cold or is obviously chilling in the stormy air, a (sub) tropical plant would feel the same. Thus this potential planting site may not be acceptable for a subtropical planting unless it is further sheltered from deadly chilling.
The ‘wet hand’ chill test can be very useful both indoors and outside throughout the year to determine where drafts are coming so that they can be eliminated. Or in the case of cold-loving plants growing in too a warm climate, how those chilling effects can be augmented.
Chilling drafts can significantly reduce soil temperature in the ground but even more-so in container-grown plants. While plants grown in the ground assume a more constant ground temperature, those grown in pots closely assume air temperature. Thus their soil temperature can potentially vary more which can lead to stress and poor plant health. In such situations it is often helpful to double-pot plants i.e. place the container plant inside a bigger container and fill the empty space between the pots with granulated bark, peat or potting soil. This produces a valuable layer of insulation that often improves plant growth.
(Sub) Tropical Planting:
When transplanting (sub) tropical species into the garden or landscape, dig deeply and enrich the soil with well aged manure or mature compost plus a small quantity of a good quality balance General Garden Fertiliser and/or a Slow Release Plant Food. If fertilizer is added to the planting hole, water in well then add more soil over the top of the fertilized layer. This will act as a buffer to separate tender emerging roots from the fertilizer salts that might otherwise burn them.
Of greatest importance is good drainage. Many (sub) tropical species are semi-epiphytic (they partially live off the air by drawing minerals from an atmospheric-like environment). So they must have very porous soil in order to do this. Many species of Bromeliad, Epiphyllum and Orchids are planted into a mixture of bark, pumice or sphagnum moss to allow for this.
Most (sub) tropical species are very sensitive to cold: especially cold, damp soil causing ‘wet feet’ which often leads to root chill and rot. Providing perfect drainage helps eliminate this problem. In heavy clay soils, add Gypsum to break down and loosen the clay; add generous amounts of drainage materials to the soil and raise the bed or create mounds above the heavy soil line. This will allow the plant extra drainage that it needs to survive.
Prune old growth and fading foliage by up to 1/2 when transplanting tropicals. Many will benefit from mulch placed near, but not touching their base. This will help keep them constantly and evenly moist. Mulching is most important when tropicals are planted on raised mounds that might otherwise dry out quickly during dry and windy weather.
Stake securely and or tie to supports any taller transplanted species such as Ficus and Palms plus most vines against wind damage. This is especially important for those plantings grown on mounds above hard-pan soil. These plantings are much more vulnerable of being blown over by strong winds later on as they mature since they will develop broad but shallow roots and become top-heavy.
Orchids need attention now. Make sure they receive the highest possible level of light without resulting in sun scorch, plenty of circulating air, high humidity and warmth. All Orchids that are making new growth should be fed with a Nitrogen-rich fertiliser like fish emulsion with a balance of Phosphorous and Potassium. This will help develop healthy and strong foliage that will ultimately result in the next series of blooms. Once their foliage matures and buds begin to appear switch to a fertiliser with a high Phosphorous ratio that enhances bud and flower development.
Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Phaleonopsis (Moth Orchids), Paphilopedilum (Slipper Orchids) and other Species Orchids can be divided as soon as they finish flowering. Division is not essential as Orchids naturally spread to make large clumps. Old spent pseudo-bulbs naturally wither and die away as the Orchid clump creeps out from its central growing core. But most Orchids look tidier, are more easily managed and often flower better when old spent growth is removed and new pseudo-bulbs with healthy growing shoots are given enriched fresh Orchid bark in which to spread their new season roots. This almost always results in better quality and larger blooms the following season.
Old pseudo-bulbs that remain green can be cleaned and individually potted. Many times they will sprout a new side shoot. This new plant will normally bloom in two or three years. Make sure that the plants remain in very bright light or at least morning sunshine and remain moderately warm. Cymbidiums prefer somewhat cooler conditions to most of the commonly grown tropical Orchids like Cattleya, many Dendrobium, Oncidium, Phalaeonopsis, etc. While the tropical species like it warm, avoid over-heating during the Summer months. Never let them dry out and always maintain a high level of humidity. Daily misting may be necessary during dry and hot spells.
Make the most of every rainfall as the blessing it is, because drier and hotter weather is bound to follow. Mulch everything that is vulnerable to drying out now before the ground has the chance to dry out. Once it does dry out, it is much more difficult to get it deeply wet again and plantings could suffer as summer heat increases.
Whenever the land becomes overly dry enough that irrigation is necessary, watering should be deep and generous. It is better to provide long periods of watering up to half and hour or long in each position rather than simply provide a brief sprinkling. While plants will gratefully respond to whatever water they receive, light watering tends to encourage feeder roots to rise to the surface. While this is beneficial to the plant, without a proper layer of compost or other mulch to protect them and maintain continual moisture, they soon become increasingly dependent upon irrigation. Deeper watering encourages roots to follow the water more deeply into the ground. This makes them more drought hardy and means less expense and time spent watering later in the season for you!