How to get your garden thriving

With thriving gardens, patios and balconies about to take centre stage this summer as Aussies head outdoors to soak up the sun, now’s the time to whip your alfresco space into shape so you can sit back and admire everything you’re growing.

To ensure gardens of all sizes keep healthy and look beautiful, Yates gardening expert, Angie Thomas, recommends some quick and easy steps.

Vegetables and herbs
If you’re growing tomatoes, sow further crops to extend the fruiting season well into autumn. Any tall seedlings are fine to plant in a deep hole, leaving the top 20–25cm out of the soil. Enrich the soil first with a plant food, such as Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food, which improves soil structure and provides a gentle slow release of nutrients to the tomatoes as they grow.

Sweet baby beets are ideal to plant now, in a sunny spot, and will be ready to harvest in just six to seven weeks. Soak clusters of seeds in water for two hours before sowing into trays. When the seedlings are 5cm tall, transplant them over to a bed or pot.

Add quick growing silverbeet to your vegie patch to produce a vitamin-rich leafy green that’s the perfect homegrown addition to salads and stir-fries. Apply an all-purpose liquid plant food, such as Yates Thrive, every two weeks to ensure your crop develops lots of lovely tender foliage.

In tropical zones, cherry tomatoes, watermelon, eggplant, lettuce, cucumber, Asian greens and buk choy are great to sow now.

Angie’s tip: If potted vegies get too hot and start wilting, move them into the shade. Lettuce, rocket, parsley, mint, basil and silverbeet will all tolerate part shade and a spot with sun in the morning, while afternoon cover is perfect.

Fruit and citrus
Start control for fruit fly in summer stonefruit early in the season using a spray such as organically certified Yates Nature’s Way Fruit Fly Control. It’s derived from naturally occurring soil bacteria and can be applied to the lower trunk or foliage.

Angie’s tip: Don’t forget to remove any fallen fruit to deter fruit fly infestations.

To promote flowering, and delicious juicy fruit, mulch strawberries and other berries with sugar cane or pea straw to keep roots cool during summer, and ensure a steady supply of water and feed.

Control sap sucking bronze orange bugs on edible citrus with Australian Certified Organic Yates Nature’s Way Citrus & Ornamental Spray. Simply apply to both sides of stems and foliage to maximise contact of the bugs.

Angie’s tip: Wear glasses, a long sleeved shirt and gloves when spraying for bronze orange bugs, as the liquid they squirt can burn your eyes and skin. Don’t forget to deep water citrus trees each week to maintain adequate soil moisture, as the fruit is setting for next year’s winter crop.

Flowers, trees and shrubs
Sub-tropical and warm-to-cool temperate areas are treated to the annual display of red NSW Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) during summer, which makes for a beautiful, festive indoor vase display when picked in a big bunch.

Angie’s tip: Position your live-potted Christmas tree in a well lit room, and place a deep saucer underneath to catch water and increase humidity around the tree.

Summer is the perfect time to strike cuttings. Take around 10cm long pieces of flowering shrubs, such as grevillea, daphne, callistemon (bottlebrush) and brugmansia (Angels trumpet), dip into Yates Clonex Rooting Hormone Gel, and plant in pots or trays with moist seed raising mix. Keep in a shaded spot until roots form in six to eight weeks.

Agapanthus are stalwarts of the summer garden with stunning blooms that suit mass planting, borders and pots. Compact varieties of bougainvilleas are perfect for adding vibrant colour to the summer garden and are great in both beds and containers. They need little extra watering and respond well to regular feeding.

Cosmos is another tough summer survivor that enjoys a hot position in the garden and survives on minimal watering. It’s the jewel-coloured, daisy-like flowers attract bees and beneficial insects to the garden and are great for picking.

Angie’s tip: Snails love hiding in strappy-leafed plants like agapanthus. Sprinkle a few Yates Blitzem Snail & Slug Pellets around the base to keep them under control.

Holiday gardens
If potted plants, flowers and gardens are being left over a summer holiday, here are some top tips from Angie to help them survive:

  • Group potted plants together so watering is easy if someone is minding your garden. Move tender plants to a shaded position where they will benefit from natural rainfall.
  • Place saucers under tender potted plants such as hydrangeas, to catch excess water for plants to draw on during hot days.
  • Set up a watering system or soaker hose on a tap timer to water your garden at regular intervals.
  • Group indoor plants together in a well-lit bath or the laundry sink; water them well and place a wet towel under the base of pots to maintain moisture.
  • Mow the lawn before you leave, but don’t be tempted to mow it too low, as longer lawns dry out less and stay greener during summer.


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YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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