Our customer base is a pretty savvy and well informed one, and this is always re-enforced in March and April as sales of our native plants soar. Our customers are well aware that this is the ideal time to plant natives and all of a sudden I am doubling orders for natives as they walk off the bench. The weather can still provide us with warm days in April, but without the hot sun and with rain happening or imminent it’s an ideal time for gardening and planting. Now is also the perfect time to start preparing your winter vegie patch. There’s plenty to do in the garden in April, so put summer behind you and get cracking!
In Your Produce Garden
You may be hesitant to grow vegies over winter if your summer plantings succumbed to the hot weather and lack of rain. Unless there is absolutely no rain, vegies grown over autumn and winter are usually hardier than the summer crop, and after they are established they may only need the occasional water and liquid feed. April is an ideal time to plant, so don’t leave the beds empty. Your vegie beds can play host now to seedlings of broccoli, cabbage, chinese greens, leeks, onion, silverbeet, spinach and brussels sprouts. Plant your already limed beds with seeds of broad beans; or add some lime in anticipation of growing peas later. If you don’t already have a vegie garden, and are not sure where to start, have a look at our factsheet on Vegie Patch Basics.
Autumn is a good time for mushrooms too. There are boxes of mushroom spores available that are easy to grow if you follow the simple instructions. There are a couple of different types available, and kids love watching them grow and harvesting them. Remember to keep the mixture moist and cool at all times.
Bulbs are by their very nature extremely drought tolerant and can be planted in containers or straight into the ground. Pack the bulbs close together, without actually touching for a massed effect. Since they will not flower for a few months yet, plant alyssum or other small seedlings over them for some immediate colour. The bulbs will poke through in time. We have a great range of packaged and loose bulbs in stock at the moment.
Autumn, as in spring, is the ideal time to fertilise your garden. Many plants, especially evergreens, put on most of their root growth in autumn. Warm soil and mild conditions with rain lead to a refreshing burst of growth on most evergreen plants. It is a time when soil nutrient levels make a big difference to your plants. Soil improvement is the best way to ensure that you get the best out of your plants. Feed your soil rather than the plants alone. Improved soil structure leads to healthier, more drought-tolerant and disease-resistant gardens.
BAAG stocks organic composts, mulches and fertilisers in bulk as well as pre-bagged. Check out our range of bulk soils and composts here.
Lift Gladiolus, Liliums and Dahlias after they have finished blooming and the foliage has yellowed off.
Citrus trees need some feeding twice a year. Leafminer has also been bad this year – watch out for it on that soft new growth and simply prune off. See our fact sheet on citrus leafminer for extra information.
Rake up fallen leaves and add them to the compost heap. Layer them through the heap, or shred them with your lawnmower first, rather than adding them all at once, as they will matt together and not break down readily otherwise. A handful of blood and bone or other high nitrogen organic fertiliser will help break them down more quickly. Perhaps keep a garbage bag full of leaves next to your heap to add a handful every now and again.
Prune back perennials that have finished flowering. Pull out old stakes, clean up and store until spring.
Cut back the amount of water supplied to succulents, cacti and tropical plants as the weather cools down. Excessive moisture and cold temperatures may cause these plants to rot over the winter.
Slugs and Snails
Autumn rains bring out snails and slugs in full force. Lightly sprinkle bait around newly planted seedlings and shrubs where snails and slugs breed, or try a beer trap to lure them in and drown them. Consider snail and slug baits that are iron-based, and safer to use with pets and wildlife. Begonias, lilies and other fleshy leaved plants are popular hiding spots.