Home' Smart Farmer : October 2012 Contents October 2012
IN October, the garden is in full
spring array. Trees have come into
leaf, flowers are opening every-
where, summer veggies can be
planted and there is a special spring
fragrance in the air.
Garden growth is fresh and
unspoilt -- it's still a bit early for pests
or heat to have done much damage.
Fruiting vegetable such as toma-
toes, capsicum, okra and eggplants
(aubergine) need a long growing sea-
son. If you are opting for eggplants,
start seeds off in pots, and carefully
transplant when the soil is warm and
seedlings are a good size. In warm cli-
mates, plant ginger and sweet potato.
There are hundreds of salvia vari-
eties -- one for every conceivable situ-
ation -- but for mass colour it's hard to
beat the annual salvias that thrive in
summer conditions. Place seeds in
pots with a good raising mix and
plant them out in the garden when
seedlings are big enough. In warm
areas, these plants can last for more
than one year. Salvias that survive
winter can be cut back and fed.
October is the month to split
crowded orchids and re-pot, then
feed with dynamic lifter pellets.
Liquid-feed growing vegetables and
Prune passionfruit by cutting-off
long trailers and thinning crowded
parts of the vine to let more sun in.
Prune spring bloomers such as for-
sythia, spiraea, philadelphus and
weigela. Shorten long stems and cut-
out the oldest canes completely at
Dust young tomato plants to pre-
vent pest and disease attack. Rub-off
young aphids on new growth.
Remove tatty leaves from cordylines
and begin spraying new growth to
control rust. Watch for caterpillars
eating holes in leaves and white fly on
vegetables. Spray under leaves.
Check potted plants. If they have
been in the same container for more
than a couple of years, make sure
there is enough potting mix for the
roots to spread into and that drainage
is okay. If in doubt, re-pot with fresh
mix into a larger size, or remove some
of the old mix from the sides or the
rootball and pack some fresh potting
mix around the roots.
The large, dramatic perennial
Echium (pictured) has grey-green
leaves year-round. In spring, it devel-
ops upright cones massed with pur-
ple-blue blooms -- particularly
attractive to bees and butterflies.
Grow in an open sunny spot with
good drainage. Trim lightly after
When we think of climbing plants,
we often picture flowering climbers
such as wisteria and jasmine, but
some vegetables have a climbing
Climbing plants take up less space
but their their roots need extra care.
Prepare the soil before planting by
digging in plenty of organic matter
(well-aged manure or compost).
Make sure the soil drains effectively.
Mulch around the base of the plant so
that roots stay cool and moist.
Productive plants are especially
hungry, so fertilise regularly.
When it comes to providing sup-
ports for your climbing veggies, there
are endless choices.
Smaller plants will grow happily on
a tepee or tripod made of bamboo
stakes. Star pickets can create a
stronger and more permanent climb-
ing framework. Something as simple
as a few horizontal wires attached to
a fence may be sufficient but, if the
fence reflects the heat, make sure you
leave an air gap between the wires
and the wall.
Plastic mesh or lattice can be
bought ready to go. One easy sugges-
tion is to shape and tie the wire or
plastic mesh into a cylinder with a
diameter that is broad enough for the
climbing plants to scramble up and
through. Old wooden stepladders
and fencing panels can look pic-
turesque but they tend to be weighty,
so make sure they are well anchored.
Climbing beans such as Blue Lake
will crop for longer than the bush
varieties, especially if the beans area is
Climbing snow peas are happiest
when they are grown in spring or
Some members of the cucurbit
family will climb happily, but only if
the fruit does not get too big. A giant
pumpkin would pull its vine down,
but small cucumbers will happily
scramble up a fence, trellis or teepee.
Many cherry tomatoes grow on
sprawling plants that do well next to
a fence or wall.
Climbing spinach (Basella alba) is
The creamy-white heritage climbing rose Lamarque can transform a mundane
Echium develops upright cones in spring, ensconed in purple-blue blooms.
Sky's the limit for climbers
also called Malabar spinach or Ceylon
spinach. It's a tropical twiner that can
be grown as an annual in cooler cli-
mates. Plants will produce seeds in
late summer that can be sown in the
next spring. Feed and water well to
encourage rapid growth. Pick leaves
often and use as you would fresh
Roses are in full bloom in late
spring and while bush (also called
shrub) roses are the most popular,
climbing roses are ideal for growing
against fences and over archways and
Most climbing roses have long,
arching canes that reach up to the sky.
They have large flowers that produce
a massed show in spring and contin-
ue to bloom throughout the warmer
Popular climbing roses include
Pierre de Ronsard, Gold Bunny,
Golden Showers, Climbing Iceberg,
Constance Spry, and Dainty Bess.
Another group of climbing roses are
called ramblers. These have pliable
stems and smaller blooms. Most ram-
bling roses flower just once a year, but
what a glorious flowering it is. One of
the best known ramblers is Dorothy
Pots of inspiration at kindergarten
WITH the word kindergarten translating
literally as 'children's garden', it seems
obvious and appropriate that pre-school
children should have plants in their
environment. Sometimes, though, grow-
ing and maintaining a kindergarten gar-
den can be quite a challenge.
The Explore & Develop Childcare
Centre in the inner western Sydney sub-
urb of Lilyfield is determined that its
children have plenty of experience with
growing plants. They are off to a good
start because, at the end of last year, the
centre was awarded a $5000 Junior
Landcare grant to establish a child-
Susan Franco from the centre pre-
pared the winning submission.
"We are very aware that many of our
children come from homes that have no
garden whatsoever," she said.
"So we wanted to create an indoor-
outdoor oasis that would intrigue,
inspire and engage our children."
The terrace of the kindergarten is
built on top of a carpark, which means
must be grown in pots or containers.
The grant has been used to establish
raised garden beds filled with good
quality potting mix that are planted out
with vegetables, herbs and flowers.
During the cooler months, the chil-
dren have watched lettuce, chinese cab-
bages and a small number of other
vegetables growing, but now that the
warmer weather is here, planting possi-
bilities are much greater.
Warm-season veggies such as sweet
corn, tomatoes, capsicum, squashes,
pumpkins and zucchinis can be sown or
planted in the next couple of months.
In the first week of spring, some of
the older children at the centre sowed
bean seeds into seed trays. They enjoyed
pushing the seeds into the moist mix,
covering them over and gently patting
them into place. They also learnt the
importance of washing hands after gar-
As they sowed the seeds, these three
and four-year-olds already seemed to
have an understanding that they were
taking part in something significant. Just
imagine how excited they will be when
the bean plants
pods and they can pick the food they
Pots of fruiting plants are dotted
around the 'carpark' terrace at the child-
care centre. Lemon and lime trees are
just starting to flower and the teachers
will be able to help the children follow
the cycle as the flowers turn into fruit.
With no garden hose available, water-
ing is the biggest challenge but the chil-
dren are learning to help with this vital
There are bird-attracting plants at the
centre, too, and flowers such as
marigolds have been planted to attract
For slightly older children, the Yates
Junior Landcare Growing Challenge is
on again this spring. Eight to sixteen-
year-olds can submit a series of photos
or a short video that shows how their
backyard -- of any size -- grows.
The challenge runs until November
• Need to know more?
Sydney's Explore & Develop Childcare Centre is giving children the experience of planting and watching a seed grow.
Tomatoes grow happily on a tepee.
Perkins, which is so vigorous it
makes a smothering ground cover.
And then there are the heritage and
wild climbing roses such as creamy-
white Lamarque, yellow banksia
(Rosa banksia lutea) and white Rosa
laevigata also known as the Cherokee
Feed climbing roses regularly
throughout the growing season and
protect from pests and disease. Water
in the morning so the leaves can dry
Pruning can be challenging.
Spring-only bloomers should be cut
back hard after pruning but long-
flowering climbers should be cut
lightly for the first couple of years.
• Need to know more?
Judy Horton 02 9794 9481,
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