September is the first calendar month of spring, but for most of the country -including the lower South Island - spring began in August and many gardeners heeded the early call.
Even if some gardeners missed the early start, plants in our gardens didn't and spring growth has been great.
The big question on everyone's minds, is it going to be a great gardening season for a change?
Time will tell and in the meantime we will be optimistic because that is the way of gardeners.
How does UV affect our garden plants? Trials have shown that plants are effected but not all in the same way. Some plants do better with the higher levels of UV where others fair worse. For instance photosynthesis (how plants use the energy from the sun to produce carbohydrates and sugars) decreases in many plants.
It was found that water-use efficiency, dry matter production/yield and leaf area decreases in many plants.
Specific leaf weight increases in many plants and flowering maybe inhibited in some plants and stimulated in others.
The answer could well be in the occasional spray of Vaporgard to protect the foliage against the UV. Vaporgard is the sunscreen for plants as it blocks the UV and allows the chlorophyll to go into maximum production. The higher UV levels at this time of the year will affect other plants in our gardens also, for better or worse.
You may like to experiment a bit yourselves by spraying half of a crop with Vaporgard and leave the other half as the control. If one or the other half does better or worse you have some interesting information that I would love to hear about.
This applies to not only vegetables, but annual flowers, roses and other ornamentals.
Gardeners in southern regions will notice a greater difference than northern gardeners. Besides protecting plants from UV we also have the spring disease problems for some plants.
On roses where black spot is a problem along with rust, protect them and other
plants with sprays of baking soda (a tablespoon to a litre of water).
Rust and most leaf disease can be controlled with sprays of potassium permanganate. Lawns need to be looked at and checked for weeds, moss and thatch.
If you find weeds, dig them out or use a lawn weed killer.
Moss is best treated with a spray of Moss and Liverwort Control rather than Sulphate of Iron as the product will kill the moss completely, the iron only burns the top.
For the thatch spray the lawn with Thatch Busta, it will eat up an inch of thatch in a month. Thatch Busta can be added to the lawn weed killer spray to speed up the removal of both thatch and weeds.
If you have moss then first spray the Moss and Liverwort Control on its own and a day or so later use the weed killer and Thatch Busta together.
Spring is the ideal time to de-thatch the lawn so that the roots of the grasses have to grow down into the soil, rather than into the thatch area. This causes the lawn to brown off as soon as we hit drier times.
I haven't noticed any pest problems yet except for mealy bugs on flax and some other plants. A spray of Neem Tree Oil will take care of the critters. Remember that mealy bugs live in the soil also and reinfest on to the plants from down below, so a scattering of Neem Tree Granules over the soil will help gain total control.
Time to repot both indoor and outdoor container plants that are not annuals.
If a plant is pot bound, you do not have to go up to a larger pot unless you want to. Instead, lift the plant out of the container and cut off the bottom third of the roots with a crosscut saw.
Put fresh mix in the base of the old pot and pop the plant back in. For indoor plants use a good quality potting mix.
For outdoor containers use a good friable compost with a little topsoil mixed in. If you have a worm farm, pop a few worms into the outdoor mix.
You will find the compost/soil mix will grow better plants and require less watering in the summer than a potting mix. It's cheaper also.
Problems? Phone me on 0800 466 464 or email email@example.com.
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