Down in the patch

Last updated 10:54 30/09/2011

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Lawns need tender loving care to achieve a lush look and now is a good time to start a round of maintenance. It's a good time to sow grass seed because the ground is warming up and rain is likely.

Existing lawns can be fed and weeded. Before you plan to kill the weeds, let them grow so there's enough surface area to absorb weedkiller. That means, for example, not mowing too short.

Yates Turfix is a general weedkiller useful for destroying a range of unwanted plants. Hire a lawnboy, which you push around like a trolley, allowing the right amount of chemical to be dispersed.

Once you spray, don't mow for another week. You should see the effects of the herbicide quite quickly. When it is time to mow, it's imperative that you don't put the lawn clippings onto your compost heap or your garden.

A general lawn fertiliser can be applied now - either before or after you have tackled the weeds. One product also suppresses moss. Slow-release fertilisers are more expensive, but last for longer, feeding the grass over an extended period.

Annual planting can be tackled now. There is lots of spring colour available for popping in the garden, in pots or in hanging baskets.

Edible planting continues. There's a huge range of seed that can be started in trays or sown straight in the garden. Beetroot, rocket, carrot and radishes are happy to go straight in the ground.

Don't get excited about tomatoes, capsicums and basil. It is still too early to be planting the seedlings outdoors, but they are worth pursuing if you have a glasshouse or are attempting to grow tomatoes from seed, under cover.

Wait a bit longer before attempting kumara. They need more warmth.

Berries and fruit trees continue to be available. If your strawberry plants are small and scraggly but have flowers, pick those first flowers off so energy goes into boosting the plant's strength.

Keen to help your fruit tree's chances of pollination? Mix a sugar-water solution (about 1 teaspoon of sugar to 1 litre of water) and spray it on emerging blossom. It is especially good at this time of the year for flowering plums, nectarines and peaches. Bees and flies love it.

Information supplied by Vince Naus at Big Jim's Garden Centre.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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