Garden tasks for December 2014

 

Flower garden

Roses and perennials can still be planted but keep your new plantings well watered.

Give roses a light prune and water regularly in preparation for autumn flowering. Also feed with rose fertiliser, and spray to prevent pests and diseases.

Lift spring flowering bulbs once the leaves have died down completely, and store in a cool dry place.

Mulch your garden shrubs with compost to conserve moisture and protect roots from summer sun, especially rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.

Remember to water every evening or early morning, particularly plants in containers which will dry out quickly in hot or windy weather.

Sow seeds of ageratum, gerbera, cosmos, celosia, petunia, nasturtium, zinnia, viscaria, aster, cyclamen, alyssum, portulaca, rudbeckia, sunflowers and verbena.

Plant out seedlings of alyssum, dianthus, impatiens, cosmos, salvia, verbena, zinnia, aster, chrysanthemum, gypsophila, nasturtium, marigolds, phlox and viscaria.

Fruit and vegetable garden

Apply a mulch of compost around your vegetable plants to conserve soil moisture.

Summer pests are now starting to be a nuisance in a lot of gardens, but there’s still time to sow a couple of easy-to-grow plants that once up and growing will deter pests.

Nasturtiums seem to keep whitefly at bay and you can use their peppery leaves as a lettuce substitute in sandwiches and both leaves and flowers in salads. Cleomes act as a magnet for vegetable bugs, keeping them off your beans and veggies.

Zucchini planted in spring should be producing now so keep them regularly picked. To be sure of a steady supply into autumn, sow some more seed promptly.

Time is running out for starting some summer crops but you can just sneak in a block of sweet corn seeds and faster maturing small pumpkins or squash.

Also plant out seedlings of lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, tomato, beetroot, courgette, capsicum, eggplant, melon, cucumber and gherkin.

There’s still plenty of time to sow beetroot and lettuce (you will need a cooler spot for the latter because their germination rates drop in hot weather).

Also sow directly into the soil: beans, carrots, parsnip, swedes, turnips, radish, spinach, silver beet and sweet corn.

Feed fruit trees and water well to prevent fruit drop.

Spray pip and stone fruit with copper spray to prevent fungus diseases. Also spray citrus with copper spray to prevent verrucosis and leaf curl.

Summer prune peach and nectarine as soon as fruiting is complete – this will help prevent the spread of silver leaf blight and leaf curl.

Lawns

Raise the lawn mower up a level for summer season. The longer lawn will aid in moisture conservation and help keep your lawn green. Remember to water in dry weather and apply a fast acting lawn food.

Second thoughts

Use SaturAid to help container plants survive infrequent watering while you’re away on holiday – this can be added without necessarily repotting plants.