Written by Krisy Goodwin
Keeping plants healthy whether they’re vegetables or ornamentals is a very important part of gardening.
There are so many factors to consider, just like us plants need the nutrients, water, sunlight and some form of protection from bugs.
Try some of these tips…
Start with good garden soil from a reputable nursery, enrich your soil with lots of organic matter, organic fertiliser, fully decomposed compost and manure, top with at least 10cm of mulch. Most vegetables prefer a pH of 6.5, grab yourself an inexpensive soil pH tester. Don’t let your soil ever
completely dry out, even when you have nothing planted. Your soil can become hydrophobic and repel water, the soil basically dies having lost all organic matter, worms and healthy microbes.
Put your plants where the instructions say they will be most happy, don’t try and put a plant that likes shade or semi shade in full sunlight or visaversa.
There are also plants that like having wet feet like mint, and others like rosemary that prefer soil on the dry side, and there are those in between like tomatoes…see plants are very much
Be hands on! Get out in the garden whenever you can, look over the leaves especially underneath! Check for signs of being chewed or browning, wilting or fungus. Take note of all you see, go
online or to a book to learn about what diseases they may have or kind of insects they harbour. Some insects are beneficial so don’t go on a mad killing spree right off the bat. Plant plenty of
insect repelling herbs and flowers and some that attract the beneficial bugs.
What lies beneath?
Some plants become sick, leaves wilt and fall off for no obvious reasons even if you seemingly had done all the right things, that is when you need to go beneath the soil to take a closer look at
what is going on.
Take a look at your plant roots: are they soft? Are the stem and roots discoloured or have lumps and bumps?
It is most likely you have soil pathogens; most are fungal, get rid of the plant, preferably burning it, clean up the bed of all leaves and debris at the end of every season and plant disease resistant varieties, don’t replant in that spot.
Either use a fungicide or try planting mustard and digging it in to help combat the fungus. Try to avoid soil disease by always rotating your plants annually to avoid putting plants in the same soil year after year, a good rule of thumb is to plant above ground vegetables where root vegetables were
the year before.
You may discover a big white curl grub…the bane of every gardener! They will quickly chew through the roots of your young plants. Use Eco Neem or 3 cups of molasses to a 9-litre bucket of water with a few drops of neem oil and apply with a watering can. Only use these methods if you have a large
number of grubs – a couple won’t do too much harm.
March is the time to prepare your beds 2 weeks before planting for the cooler growing season. I will normally do most of my planting towards the end of march.
What to plant:
Lettuce, carrots, capsicums, tomatoes, radish, beetroot, beans, peas, zucchini, cabbage, broccoli,
turnips, onions, garlic, potatoes, Asian greens, cauliflower.
Don’t forget your favourite herbs, and stay healthy!
I like gardening. It’s a place where I find
myself when I need to lose myself.” – Alice Sebold