A Garden Doctor - Dec 12, 2013

Dear Gardening Friends.

We’ve had a catastrophe here this morning. I was passing my phone to Simon so he could take a photo of me with one of our fresh cut Christmas trees. As I was doing this the phone flew out of my hands, went up in the air like in slow motion and landed in the Christmas tree pond!

The Australian Newspaper sent a photographer out on Sunday to do a story on our Cut Christmas Trees. Cut Christmas trees are having a renaissance. We have noticed that our older customers are getting Cut Christmas trees again. It seems the smell of that lovely pine fragrance brings back great memories. The Australian newspaper is famous for doing arty photos.

They came out once to do a story on how the drought was affecting sales in the nursery industry. We got excited about them coming out so we spruced up the place and all wore clean shirts and brushed our hair. When the photographer turned up he asked me to get a watering can. He made me walk up and down a path as he snapped away. When the photo got published all you could see was my hand holding the watering can and my legs.

We had a disaster here during the week. We didn’t realize that the computer that waters our petunia baskets on the fence had a flat battery. It obviously hadn’t been working for a week or so because the petunia baskets were beautiful one day and almost dead the next. When we took them down we noticed that the petunias were being attacked by thrips and two spotted mites. These insects suck the nutrients out of the leaves and actually starve the plant to death. Insects like these attack plants which are run down. Because the petunias weren’t getting watered the plants immune system was unable the fight off the insects. You will probably have these insects attacking your plants as well.

The secret to keeping your plants pest free is to keep them well watered. Healthy plants don’t get attacked by insect’s as much as unhealthy plants. Now we could have just sprayed the petunias but to stop these sap sucking insects from coming back we need to change the environment. First we have cut the plants back to a frame. The root system has been damaged due to the lack of water so we need to reduce the size of the plant. Next we have mulched the surface of the baskets with some Greengold Planting Compost. I talk about this fantastic product all the time. It contains a wetting agent that will allow the dry potting mix to accept water again. It also has an organic slow release fertiliser that will encourage the petunia to sprout fresh new growth.

Watch how quickly these hanging baskets return to their former glory. We will have flowers for Christmas. If you have tired pot plants at your place mulch around the surface now with Greengold Planting Compost.

There used to be an insecticide/ fungicide called “Garden Doctor”. This was a fantastic all round spray that seemed to control almost every pest and disease that plants got. It is no longer available but Yates Rose Gun could be the modern day replacement. Rose Gun has a systemic insecticide and fungicide. I used this product to spray the petunia baskets. This will control the thrips and two spotted mites in a hurry. Because it’s systemic it won’t wash off when it rains. I will need to spray the petunias gain in a couple of weeks for best results.

The bird netting that I put around my Blueberry plant has been a success. I have been picking a handful of ripe fruit twice a week. The green bird that was eating the blueberries has now moved onto my tomatoes so I am picking these as they start to ripen. Arthur Kelly wrote to tell me that the bird is a Satin Bowerbird. This is a very clever bird. Thanks Arthur for the bird photo too.

We have now got a huge selection of Bamboo plants. We have the non invasive clumping varieties. These are perfect for pots and gardens to screen out your neighbours fast. We have more than 10 varieties so come and see us if you love Bamboo! Plants are already chin height and they are loving the hot humid conditions. The last time we had some they were over $100 but these beauties are only $44.99. They can be divided if you want to save some money.

Simon has just been in to tell me that he has purchased some Dwarf Staghorns. These rainforest plants can be attached to trees or shady walls. This new dwarf growing variety is called Bambi. We only have 6 plants and they sell for $69.99. Bambi is a bit of a mystery. The parent plants were found on a farm near grafton in 1991 growing on a rock ledge, but were utterly unlike any staghorn anyone had ever seen. The plants were around 4 years old but still looked like babies.The mature plant only grows around 600mm high and likes the same conditions as its larger cousins, lots of shade and a feed of compost 3 times a year. Get in quick for this very rare plant.

It has been very humid this week, so don’t be surprised if some of your plants just drop dead. The humidity causes the root system to rot and then the plant dies from lack of water. Some plants are more susceptible than others to this fungus disease called root rot. When the leaves start to turn yellow and then shrivel it’s a sign. Hebes, Pittosporums, Eriostemons, Grevilleas and Petunias often die from this disease. There is a product called Yates Anti Rot that can help prevent this. Simply water it into the soil.

Lisa has pumped up our Bonsai display getting ready for Christmas. These cute little plants make great gifts for the experienced gardener. We have over 50 in stock. Prices start at just $26.99. Come and talk to Lisa if you need help selecting the easiest one to grow. We gift wrap these for free.

Very busy today so it’s a short story this week.
Happy gardening.