The weather’s getting cooler, pumpkin soup is back on the menu, and the bread-making craze is still going strong.
This weekend, it’s time to swap the slippers for gardening shoes and tackle those Autumn jobs so you can enjoy a healthier, fruitful, and more colourful outdoor living space!
If you want to get your garden right, you’ve got to get back to basics and talk to those in-the-know.
Peter Popenko, owner of The Plant Shack at Deception Bay, says now is the time to be planting various European vegetables, including:
Herbs and flowers respond just as successfully in these milder, May conditions, and Peter insists that there’s no reason you can’t “mix it up”.
“It’s perfectly fine to have your pansies next to your parsley,” he says of the flower and herb combo.
“In fact, it’s a good way to diversify and protect your garden, and can even help with deterring pests, as it makes it harder for them to see and smell certain plants.”
And you don’t need a “fancy container” or a large yard to get started.
Polystyrene boxes are ideal for a small herb, vegetable, flower – or combination of all three – garden, as long as it has sufficient drainage holes and seeds/seedlings are spaced apart.
Ample sunshine and preparation of soil are essential (whether in a raised garden bed or makeshift box), with fertiliser, mulch (such as sugar cane) and compost helping to improve soil quality.
Another timely Autumn gardening project is to control the weeds, especially following the recent lawn grub problem some Moreton Bay Region areas have experienced.
Peter, who runs The Plant Shack with his wife Toni and son Blake, says the real trick to fending off weeds and “stopping the cycle” is to use a high-quality wetting agent.
He suggests the product Searles Lawn Perfect and Spredmax, mixed together as directed will help suppress weeds before they seed.
If you’re really looking to freshen up your home and up your kerb appeal without hurting the hip pocket, you need to get on top of those first signs of black algae and mould.
“Use some bleach on concrete paths and driveways. It can have a profound effect on the place,” Peter says. “Simply use a watering can filled with a diluted mixture, and pour over.”
Now you have your vegie garden underway, and lawn and driveway in tip-top condition, the next DIY focus should be flowers.
Speaking of unwanted algae and black spot, roses tend to be hit by similar afflictions as the temperature drops.
As a weekend project, Peter suggests spraying your roses using products like Mancozeb, Trifend, or RosePro to help improve leaf quality and control pests, mites and fungus.
These scented beauties also respond well to pruning and fertiliser during the Autumn months; a process which should be repeated come July.
Peter adds that flowers like Camellias and Azaleas may also need a little extra TLC during May, with ample watering and fertiliser ensuring a full bloom.
Put in the time now, and you’ll be rewarded later!
Flicking through Instagram, it doesn’t take long to spot the token houseplant image. You know the one – waxy green leaves cascading against a wall of pastel pink or white.
Why not try it at home? This is a simple decorating tip to add a splash of greenery, which is both affordable and relatively easy to maintain. You can even tailor it to your own style.
Peter says houseplants are a great way to dress up a blank wall or space, but suggests finding an alternative to traditional ferns.
“Choose something with big leaves that splay apart, like Devil’s Ivy. You can visit your local nursery to see what is available and in season.”
Replenishing and fixing hanging baskets is also a doable weekend activity, even in isolation.
“If you buy a hanging basket, you can always remove the hook,” says Peter, explaining the versatility of plants and their display options.
“They grow over the side when placed on a shelf, or you could even take a clipping and grow it in a bottle.”
The options for DIY gardening and sprucing up your living areas are endless – both indoors and out!
Theo’s Garden Centre at Kallangur is another local business which has remained trading throughout COVID-19 disruptions, thanks to its open-air layout and safe social distancing practices.
Bruce Whitfield, who owns the centre along with his wife Judi, says they have experienced a similar rush on vegetables and fruit trees.
He says citrus, in particular, has proven a favourite, as budding green thumbs look for ways to grow their own produce and be productive during lockdown.
“Citrus is the type of plant that requires care,” Bruce says, adding that fertiliser and preventive measures to deter pests like leaf miners are needed.
If you’re looking to plant citrus in your garden, Theo’s Garden Centre offers plenty of advice and a range of choice, including: lemons, oranges, mandarins, tangelos, cumquats and more.
You could even turn some of these zesty and delicious fruits into homemade jams or marmalade!
Plant sales are going gangbusters in the Moreton Bay Region, and it’s great to see family-run businesses rising to the occasion to ensure customers achieve success in their gardening endeavours.
We’d love to see it! Send us your photos and/or hashtag #MoretonBayTough on your bloomin’ amazing home and garden renovations. Happy growing!