January Garden Notes
Hello, and welcome to a brand-new year, which hopefully will be more settled than the last two! At least we gardeners have one constant in our lives, our gardens, whatever size and form they take. Let’s take a look at what's happening in January and what to do in the garden this month.
January is quite often a time of change for a lot of folks, we make New Year resolutions about things we want to do and alter in our lives, and those resolutions can extend to personal garden care! It’s a good time to reflect on the last year, see what worked in the garden, what didn’t, and plan any changes we would like to make. We need to work around the weather regarding planting anything of course; having just had a short hot spell which is not ideal for transplanting anything!
Summer Watering Advice
Speaking of hot weather, keep on top of your watering when the temperature creeps up, especially for your fruiting plants, fruit trees and pots. By the same token you need to be careful that you don’t overwater, doing this fills all the spaces between soil particles with water and the roots basically drown and die. If that occurs the plant will, in time, die of starvation. Using a wetting agent and making sure everything is well mulched will also make keeping your plants happy and healthy.
The Exceptions: Heat-Loving Plants
There are some plants that actually love the heat. Frangipani, which comes in a range of flower colours will thrive in the hottest part of the yard, either in the ground or in a pot. Up against a north facing wall with reflected heat of the building is a great spot; just don’t overwater them as they will not tolerate wet feet. Salvia, in all their forms and colours, are another group of plants that love our summer heat. They range from almost groundcovers to roughly 1 metre in height, flower prolifically and just need a hard prune after the best of the flowering is over to bring them back better than ever.
It’s Not Too Late To Create your Summer Vegetable Patch
There is still plenty of time for planting your summer vegetables. Tomatoes, chillies, capsicums, melons, and pumpkins are all heat lovers that can still be planted now and have ample time to grow and fruit. If and when we get another hot spell these, and in fact, all veggies, will benefit from having some temporary shade over them for the duration of summer. We recommend 50% white shade cloth. Some people use old sheets or umbrellas, anything that cuts the heat and provides shade will do. Of course, mulching is recommended and a monthly application of a seaweed-based product helps all plants cope with extremes of weather.
Fruit Tree Maintenance
If your fruit trees have finished fruiting, now is the time to put a little bit of work into them. A good feed now will help them recover from the crop they just produced and give them the boost they need as they will start to set fruiting wood ready for the next season. Most fruit trees will benefit from a summer prune to thin out and reduce overall size. Apricots should pretty much only have a summer prune as heavy winter pruning can often result in disease entering pruning cuts that can’t heal quickly enough. Keep giving your trees a good deep weekly water too.
Summer Lawn Care
Remember not to cut your lawns too short in hot weather, leaving some extra leaf helps to shade the roots and cuts down on evaporation from the soil. If we get a prolonged hot spell don’t cut the lawn at all, but afterwards reduce the height in stages to minimise damage. When watering, try to apply 20-25ml in one application as this will soak in further and develop a deeper root system which helps the grass cope better too. An application of a soil wetter won’t go astray either, apply and then water in.
Bringing the Tropics To You
Even though it’s possible now to travel to the tropics, it’s even easier to bring the tropics to your house by choosing the right plants! In stores now you will find a great range of “tropical” plants that will do very well in homes and patios around Australia. Choose from Strelitzia (giant bird of paradise), Palms, Monstera, various Ficus and Cordyline varieties with a range of leaf forms and colours. All of these will be happy in a well-lit position inside or a shaded, protected spot on the patio. Don’t overwater these, let the plant tell you when it needs a drink. The leaf will go limp and change colour when thirsty. Fertilise monthly during the warmer months and then mix yourself a drink, sit back and pretend you’re in the far north!
As always when working out in the garden at this time of the year remember to be sun smart, hydrate well and stay safe. Happy gardening and happy new year!