Weekend garden jobs, October 14 2023

Fernery, Sydney Botanic Gardens

We spent a few days in Sydney last week, in perfect weather. Aside from the usual things (Opera House, Harbour Bridge, ferry rides), we visited the Botanic Gardens, which had a beautiful rainforest section and a fernery.

The fernery was stunning. We learned a lot about how ferns reproduce, and the variety of ferns in Australia. I recommend a visit if you ever visit Sydney.

We also took a ferry ride to the ritzy suburb of Rose Bay. The reason we went there, aside from the fun ferry ride, was that it has a beautiful, bay with crystal clear water, and art deco buildings in pristine condition. It has streets lined with enormous trees – really gorgeous and worth the trip.

Greenhouse Jobs

I spent several hours rearranging my greenhouse this morning. My husband suggested making better use of the space by shifting some shelving to the centre of the greenhouse. This was a really smart idea, and it also gave me the opportunity to clear out some cobwebs, creeping oxalis that had wormed its way in, and sweep out the greenhouse. Once I did that, I moved a heap of pots around, moved the shelving racks to the centre, and then had the fun of potting up a lot of seedlings that were ready to move from the seed troughs.

Rearranged Greenhouse

Mulching and weeding

Due to the combo of warm, sunny weather last week followed by cool rainy weather this week, the weeds have come out in full force. I have spent quite a lot of time trawling around the garden, bucket in hand, pulling out weeds. These were much worse in the front yard than the back, where I do admit to spending more of my time. Some kind of grass has found its way into the front garden, probably blown in, and I have finally given it my attention. Fortunately it was easy to yank up, but it really was all over the place.

Another job I have put off in the front yard was mulching (the back yard veggie patch has been properly mulched for several weeks now, in anticipation of the warmer weather). In the backyard I use a straw mulch (lucerne or sugar cane), but in the front yard I use a cottage mulch because it is more attractive. I finally started it today, and realised I really underestimated how much mulch I needed for this job!

Mulberry answers?

As I mulched and weeded, I listened to Roots and Shoots, an ABC gardening podcast from Western Australia. I also listen to the local Talkback Gardening podcast from here in South Australia, but when I have finished these, I turn to Sabrina in WA. Someone called in asking how often to water a mulberry tree during Spring. My mulberry tree is a current bane of my garden (you should see our back neighbour’s tree – covered in ripening mulberries! Our tree – tiny green fruits!). Sabrina said mulberry trees should be watered twice a week in Spring and three times a week in Summer. I water about half as often as she recommended – this could be the answer to my mulberry tree woes. I immediately put the hose on the mulberry tree.

Quinces and plums

It’s not all woe in my garden though! The plum trees we planted last year have tiny plums, the lime tree is covered in tiny limes once more, (after an absolute bumper crop last year), the apricot tree is loaded, and the quince tree we just planted six weeks ago is covered in blossom!

Smyrna Quince in bloom

Some people would recommend trimming blossom off a newly planted tree to let it put all its energy into growth. I just let the tree do its thing. That may not be the right approach, but it’s what I do.

The apple trees are also both covered in blossom, and we are hoping for a good crop this year.

On the other hand, I had to dig up the ring-barked passionfruit, leaving just one sad passionfruit left of the five I planted two years ago. I have two tiny Red Flamenco passionfruit growing from seed, still alive in the greenhouse. If these don’t make it, I might wave a white flag on passionfruit. It feels almost unAustralian, saying that.

What to do in the garden with the time you have this week

If, like me, you have minimal time, here’s some suggestions for what to do with it:

If you have an hour

Plant some zucchini and pumpkins. The soil has warmed up now (although it’s cold in our area today) – push some zucchini, pumpkin, or squash seeds direct where you want them to grow and wait. They will pop their heads up soon! I’m finding all the extra spots in the garden to poke a few pumpkin seeds, including the front yard.

If you have 2-3 hours

Keep mulching. I don’t know about you, but mulching takes me a long time (I’m not as young as I used to be, and my yards are big). I spent a couple hours on it a few weeks ago, and a couple hours today. I’m still not done. I hope to have finished all the mulching by the end of October, before the really hot weather hits.

If you have 4-5 hours

Start planning for Christmas. When I look at my garden now, I’m thinking about how it will look in eight weeks’ time. We often host, and I like the garden to look nice. Do I want plants to be in flower? It’s going to be a hot Summer, so everything will be a bit droopy unless I make sure to mulch and water well now and in the future. What about colour? If I want to have a display of flowers by Christmas I need to start planning for that now.

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