Garden Calander – February

In February in many coastal areas of Australia, summer humidity sets in and everything rots out from under you. This is also the month of the year when the worst lawn problems appear. In some areas the dreaded armyworm marches across entire neighbourhoods; symptoms include the browning off of huge lawn areas almost overnight. On closer inspection. small, greyish caterpillars can be found in tunnels just below the soil surface. Often, flocks of galahs or even starlings are blamed for the damage, but in fact these birds help by eating the armyworms.

• In coastal areas, powdery mildew Will be on the increase. This causes a talc like coating on leaves and, later, dieback of roses, crepe myrtles, cucumbers, zucchinis, pumpkins, grapes, fuchsias and anything else that happens to be lying around. To control this problem, spray with Benlate(not organic). Organic option would be milk.

• This is the last month (in non-tropical areas) to plant warm climate plants such as hibiscus, bougainvillea and frangipani. Later planting may causeQueensland Fruit Fly problems.

• Watch out for fruit fly in central and northern areas; to control, spray with Lebaycid or Chemspray Fruit Fly Kit. Organic option is netting or fruit fly lure.

• Take a look at your native shrubs-if they have finished flowering and look a little scruffy, prune lightly all over. This helps them to live longer, look better and flower more.

• To control severe infestations of armyworms, spray with Carbaryl(Organic use neem)-and keep the galahs away for a few days. Fungal diseases in lawns, which appear as small, often dead patches, can be sprayed with Daconil or Mancozeb(Use organic fungicide). Don’t overwater, as this helps diseases to spread. Black beetles rarely do much damage, but in severe cases and as a last resort use any of the lawn beetle chemicals that are available.

CITRUSAfrican Violet
• Fertilise citrus trees. Citrus will bravely fruit until they exhaust themselves and the surrounding soil, leading to die-back, collar rot etc, so get some chook manure or citrus food. Apply the manure as a surface mulch 1cm (0.5”) thick to the width of the branches (but keep it back 10cm/4″ from the trunk) and water in well with a sprinkler. A light application of trace elements, particularly in sandy soil areas, will help to make the fruit taste sweeter and the tree itself to resist disease and insect attack.

• Keep weeds and lawns away from the trunks of citrus trees. As well as competing for food and water, grass and weeds can hide problems such as collar rot, which affect the citrus trunk at ground level.

• This is a good time to fertilise. For year round feeding use nine-month Osmocote, Nutricote or Selley’s spikes, and for a quick boost use Nitrosol or Fish Emulsion. Always water well when you apply fertiliser.

• Either don’t bother to feed African violets or use African violet food only, and don’t overwater.

• Wok enthusiasts can plant snow peas, sugar snap peas and Chinese cabbage, all of which are really worthwhile. Purists who need lots of exercise might consider growing potatoes. This is also the time for beans, peas, broccoli, carrots, beetroot, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower and tomatoes (in warmer areas).

• Flowering annuals to plant include violas, pansies, cinerarias and primulas.

Reference: Mr Don Burke