Need a weed and seed plan

Need a weed and seed plan | In Fiona's Garden

Life & Style
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October is the time to prune and feed spring flowering forsythia, japonica, camellias and azaleas when their blossom is finished.

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Korean pear tree, with yellow mahonia blossom, wallflowers and giant Euphorbia characias in early October.

Korean pear tree, with yellow mahonia blossom, wallflowers and giant Euphorbia characias in early October.

OCTOBER is here, together with sunshine, storms and glorious spring blossom.

Unfortunately a tidal wave of weeds is also here that I'm struggling to keep at bay.

Along with a zillion seedlings, some of which I'd like to save.

After a few days of feebly trying to remove the weeds while leaving the interesting seedlings, I realised I was going nowhere and needed a plan.

I looked round the garden, listed the seedling plants I wanted to keep and then set to and dug them up.

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Some have gone into pots, others - including bronze fennel (Foeniculum), rose campion (Lychnis coronarius) and hellebores - I've transplanted to different parts of the garden.

I don't normally move plants in spring, they rarely survive our summers, but I'm encouraged by the combination of a great season and the success I had last year, also a damp spring.

While I was at it I divided and replanted some chrysanthemums. Fingers crossed.

I sprayed the weeds with OCP's organic Slasher, which got rid of them overnight. Always check the weather forecast before spraying herbicides, especially a non-selective killer like Slasher. You need a still, dry morning and no rain for at least 12 hours.

October is the time to prune and feed spring flowering forsythia, japonica, mahonia (M. aquifolium), camellias and azaleas when their blossom is finished.

Winter blooming rosemary and evergreen Viburnum tinus can be pruned now too, for flowers next winter. If you have enough compost to mulch winter- and spring-flowering shrubs they won't need much fertiliser, if any. Or, use slow release compressed chook manure pellets.

Roses are looking amazingly leafy already. If you grow modern bush roses - hybrid teas and floribundas - that are martyrs to insect and fungal attack, October is a good month to hit them with a dose of a preventive combination insecticide and fungicide.

I've never found that growing garlic among roses actually keeps thrips and aphids away, so a few years ago I tried scattering clippings of smelly silvery wormwood (Artemisia arborescens) among them instead.

To my great delight this worked brilliantly and thrips and aphids have virtually vanished from the garden.

Wormwood is the most useful plant, it has aromatic, intense silver leaves and grows rapidly from cuttings taken at any time.

It's useful for filling gaps and it makes a beautiful hedge, growing to shoulder height in one season.

Admiring my wisteria this morning, about to burst into bloom, I wondered nervously what Jack Frost has up his sleeve for the Central West. Plenty, I bet. October is when I like to sow herbs but they'll need to go into trays under cover for now.

Many culinary herbs germinate readily and are well worth raising from seed.

Stand-byes are parsley, thyme and kitchen sage. I also sow dill and coriander for salads and basil for pesto sauce, it's lovely having more than you need.

Covid has wrought havoc with open gardens but with luck the end of lockdown is in sight, at least for some.

Check out My Open Garden, www.info@myopengarden.com.au for gardens in your district.

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