April Garden Calander – What to Plant and Jobs to do in April

This is the best time of year to plant trees and shrubs and to remove any straggly bushes and replace them with hardier varieties. Now that the weather is cooler, redesign your garden-put in a barbecue area or a sandpit for the kids. Citrus are the best home fruit by far, and with winter coming up are a useful source of Vitamin C to repel colds and flu. To improve drainage, remember that surface drains always work best; try to shed surface water by cunningly placed contours. In very dry areas such as Perth and inland zones. contours which collect water around the bases of trees and shrubs are a good idea (in any case, flat garden areas can often look dull and boring).


  • Create a serene, meadow-like effect in your backyard by planting some bulbs now. Plant jonquils (although it is getting a little bit late for these), freesias, hyacinths, daffodils and in cooler areas tulips, all of which are available now.
  • This is usually a bad time for insect pests but, before you start indiscriminately spraying chemicals, stop and think. Some spraying of serious infestations is common sense, but ask your nurseryperson for ‘safe’ chemicals such as pyrethrum and dipel. Where possible, control insects by nonchemical means such as hosing them off, squashing them or ignoring them. Winter grass is starting to germinate now. Learn to live with it if you can-it is nice and green, not prickly, and makes good budgie and canary food. Spray with Endothal if you must, but check that this is okay for your particular type of grass.


  • Cyclamen are the classiest of all indoor flowering plants. However, some are sold in lightweight, almost pure peat potting mixes which cause the plant to collapse prematurely indoors. Only buy cyclamen in nice, gritty, heavy potting mixes. Cyclamen like cool nights and can be put outside at this time.
  • Cut off straggly looking maidenhair ferns at ground level, fertilise with Nitrosol and leave them outside in a shady area for a few weeks. After this they will look lush, green and stunning.


  • If you haven’t already, start planting your spring display of flowering annuals: violas, pansies, alyssum, Livingstone daisies, lobelia, English daisies, calendulas, dianthus, anemones, prirnulas, ranunculus, poppies, stocks, sweet peas, snapdragons, larkspurs, cornflowers, foxgloves and cinerarias (in the shade).
  • You are also running out of time to get your spring bulbs in. Try some in pots. Hyacinths will grow in a jar on your windowsill.
  • Vegetables to plant now include onions, cabbage, peas, snow peas, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, spinach and radishes.

Reference: Donald Burke

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

Composting – Making Soil Improver from Rubbish

This is a great old document from the CSIRO on composting. It is written for the home gardener but also has some great scientific information like the right carbon to nitrogen ratios(C/N ratio) for compost.

Composting – Making soil improver from rubbish
Rubbish is one product our society makes very well. We make mountains and oceans of it. We dump it in holes and in the sea, bury it and burn it. But when we run out of holes, when the sea can not take any more, and when we get sick of smoke in our eyes, what do we do then?
One answer given by those who are concerned about our soils and food production system is: “Compost it and return it to the soil”. They are, of course, referring to the many organic materials that we throw away or burn – lawn clippings, leaves, weeds, sawdust, paper, kitchen scraps, seaweed, etc. The compost heap can convert this bulky “rubbish” into a soil improver and fertiliser. This booklet is about the science and art of making compost, and has a bit of philosophy too.

To view this booklet below you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed from www.adobe.com

Composting – Making Soil Improver from Rubbish


It ‘s usually too hot at this time of the year for much gardening-just bung some Zero or Roundup on the weeds and lower
yourself into the pool or banana lounge.  For an easy care summer garden, mulch all the garden beds.

• Deep watering once a week with a garden sprinkler is essential if the eather is hot and dry. Pay particular attention to trees, which are often forgotten in dry weather.
• Fertilise the garden, especially roses, hibiscus and leaf vegetables- use any complete fertiliser with trace elements,
well-matured cow pats.
• Lightly prune fuchsias and roses, trim off any dead flowers and generally tidy them up. Hydrangeas can also be lightly
pruned if they have finished flowering cut back old flowering heads to a plump set of buds but leave non-flowering stems alone .
• Get the lawn mower serviced.
• Continue treatments on all plants for scale insects where necessary.

• Throw out all your old, sick or dying indoor plants and replace them with new ones. A good range of indoor plants
is available now; select one or two big plants rather than lots of tiny plant which look messy and require loads of maintenance.
• Give indoor plants an occasional stint outside in the rain, but be careful that they don’t sit in full sun as this will burn their leaves. Under a shade tree is a safe spot for them. Also, keep an eye on indoor plants that are outside as they are sitting targets for snails and slugs. Before you bring the pots back inside, check the rims thoroughly for snails that may be lurking around.

• Massive root damage can occur to trees and shrubs left unwatered at this time of year, so be sure to give the garden a
soaking with a sprinkler before you go on holidays.
• Indoor plants will survive unattended for weeks in self-watering pots such as or Water-well model.
• Indoor plants can be watered well then encolsed, pot and all, inside large, clear plastic bags and left in a cool, not too
brightly lit room.
• Pay on of your neighbour’s kids to come in to water all your plants, bring in the newspapers and feed the pets.  Give them careful instructions about special plants and also give them a good idea about how long the hose needs to water thoroughly.
• Install a watering system. It’s a good way to save water and makes the task pf looking after your garden a bit easier, especially when you go away.

• Try planting a small area of annuals in strategic place in the garden-one or perhaps two colours will suffice. Slightly yellowish, older seedlings from the nursery may establish faster and better than lush, green, younger ones. Choose from petunias, marigolds, salvia, ageratum, delphiniums and poppies.
• Plant some vegetables-beans, beetroot, brussels sprouts (not in the tropics), broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, carrots, radishes, silver beet, sweet corn, spring onions and zucchini.

From Burke’s Backyard