October in the garden

Spring is well and truly here. It’s a delight to wander around the garden and see all the flowers blooming, bees buzzing and smelling beautiful spring scents in the air. Spring is the time to get busy so here are some gardening tips and ideas to get you out and about in your garden.

It’s time to plant petunias. These are lovely spring-summer flowering annuals which come in many colours such as red, purple, pink, yellow and white. They can be grown in pots or on mass in garden beds and even hanging baskets. They are a great way to add instant colour to your garden. Petunias grow best in a sunny spot. Water them regularly and feed them monthly with some liquid plant food. It is also good to remove any spent flowers as they are growing to encourage new flowers. Watch out too for snails and slugs that love to eat new petunia seedlings.

Waratahs are in flower now and can make an impressive shrub in your garden. Some people grow them quite successfully while others can find it tricky. Here are some tips which might help you to grow your own. In their natural environment waratahs tend to grow in dappled light rather than full sun. Hot sun can cause them to burn, so put them in a protected position. A perfect spot would be dappled light or morning sun with afternoon shade. Provide them with plenty of water and feed them during spring and summer. Make sure you use a specialised native plant food that is low in phosphorus. Waratahs like their roots to be kept cool so apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant. This will also help to prevent their roots from drying out. Make sure your soil is well drained, you can help aid this by planting them on a mounded bed. Waratahs will struggle in poorly drained clay soils. If you love waratahs but have clay, plant one up in a pot with good quality native potting mix. Giving your waratah a good prune immediately after flowering is also beneficial. Prune your plant back by about a half or a third all over.

Strawberries are a fun, easy to grow fruit in the home garden. They can be grown in the ground, in pots and hanging baskets. Spring is a perfect time of year to plant them and their fruit can be harvested in 12 weeks from planting. They are best grown in full sun. They love lots of organic matter so dig in plenty of compost or manure to your garden beds or pots. Finish off by mulching with straw to conserve moisture, and to keep the fruit off the soil so the fruit won’t spoil. Water your strawberries regularly and never let them dry out especially when fruit is forming. Feed them well with some blood and bone and an organic fertiliser. Strawberries also produce runners from the main plant. If you see these while your plant is fruiting remove them so that they don’t compete with the fruit that is trying to ripen. You can plant these runners to make new plants too.