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What to grow in Brisbane during autumn and winter.

What to grow in Brisbane during autumn and winter.

In this strange new world we are living in at the moment, many of us have more time on our hands. If you’ve been thinking about starting a vegetable garden, now might be the perfect time.  Since we’re already halfway through autumn, it’s probably best to plant vegetables from seedlings rather than from seed if you want a harvest during winter.

The beauty of living in a subtropical climate like Brisbane is that we can get away with planting some varieties of vegetables during the cooler months that our more southerly neighbours can’t.

Growing spinach, lettuce and silverbeet in Brisbane during summer can be a frustrating experience because our hot summers encourage them to run to seed quite quickly. However, our more temperate autumn climate means these greens can do very well at this time of the year.

It’s worth giving other typically summer crops a go now too. Vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, squash, capsicums and cucumbers are worth a try if your vegetable garden gets plenty of sun and no frost. Germination rates are slower in the colder months so if you’re growing these from seed, plant them in pots in a warm, protected spot initially and then transplant them into the garden when they are bigger.

 

Other crops you can plant during autumn in Brisbane and the greater Southeast Queensland include dwarf beans, carrots, broccoli, beetroot, cabbages, peas, zucchini, onions, turnips, radishes and snow peas.

If you’re not confident about growing vegetables or have limited garden space, try your hand at growing herbs. They’re great for adding flavour to home-cooked dinners, and successfully growing them will boost your confidence.

Mint is an easy herb to grow. It tends to take over a garden bed, so give this one a pot of its own. You can also plant Garlic, Chives, Dill, Tarragon and Thyme now. Plant them in a warm spot and make sure you water regularly. Coriander is another one of those plants that goes to seed quickly during a Queensland summer, but can do quite well in Brisbane during autumn and winter.  

Your gardening success will depend largely on what you plant, where you plant it and the quality of soil its planted in. Most vegetables prefer a pH that ranges from 6 to 6.5. If you’re not sure what the pH of your soil is, do a test using the Searles Soil pH Testing Kit or the Garden Trend Mini pH Tester.

To give your plants a head start, and to help seedlings recover from being transplanted, add some Seasol Planting Gel to the soil before planting. Seasol promotes good root development and higher-yielding plants. If you’re planting in pots instead of a garden bed, use a good quality potting mix that contains all the nutrients your plant needs.

Autumn and winter are traditionally dry months in Brisbane, so make sure you keep up the water. It’s also a good idea to add a layer of mulch to your plants to prevent moisture loss. Water early in the morning rather than in the evening so the leaves get a chance to dry out. Too much moisture on foliage on a cold night can lead to mould and rot developing.

If the idea of getting up early to water the garden during the chilly autumn and winter weather doesn’t appeal, invest in a tap timer. You can set them up so that they water according to whatever schedule you prefer. In fact, you can control the tap timer from your smartphone via Bluetooth from the comfort of your couch.

 

Happy Gardening!

Armyworms on the move

 

 

Is your lawn turning progressively brown despite recent rainfalls? If so, there is a good chance you have a thriving population of Armyworms. These voracious feeders can annihilate entire lawns overnight and will continue to breed, lay eggs and increase their population at an alarming rate if left unchecked.

Army worms get their name because they move like an army, conquering one lawn after another. They have been known to annihilate entire lawns overnight. Although more common in late autumn through to winter, rainfall and nonseasonal temperatures have produced the perfect breeding conditions for them, and right now they are munching their way through lawns in droves.

 

BREEDING
The adult moth lays batches of eggs in your garden and on fence lines, usually close to a light source. The eggs hatch about 6 to 20 days later, and the Army worms begin feeding, working their way out across your lawn. In their last ten days as an adult caterpillar, they feed ravenously before tunneling into the soil to pupate. They emerge as an adult moth who continues the cycle by laying more eggs.

 

HOW TO CHECK FOR ARMYWORMS
The reason most Army worm infestations go unchecked until it is too late is because they feed at night and hibernate during the day, usually under soil at the base of plants. The easiest way to check if you have Army worms is to put a piece of cloth, old carpet, towel or blanket on a patch of lawn at night and then look underneath it the next day. Because the Army worms think it is still night underneath the blanket, they will have come up to feed.

 

IDENTIFICATION
You can identify Army worms by their markings and behaviour. All species of Army worms have three stripes running the length of their body and will curl up into a tight ‘C’ when disturbed.

 

HOW TO GET RID OF ARMYWORMS
So how do you get rid of Armyworms once they have set up camp in your yard? The best and most environmentally friendly product on the market is eco-neem.

Eco-neem is an organic insecticide formulated from extracts of the neem tree. This clever product works by suppressing the appetite of the grub so they starve to death and restricting growth so they cannot moult successfully. Although it may take a few days for the Army worm to die, lawn damage stops as soon as eco-neem has been ingested.

Eco-neem will also help control caterpillars, curl grubs, grasshoppers (wingless), aphids, mites, citrus leafminer, whitefly, mealybugs and fungus gnats in soil and sooty mold, so it’s a handy product to have around.

One of the best things about using an environmentally friendly, organic product like eco-neem rather than a synthetic chemical product is that it is safe to use around pets, birds, and lizards. So, if you have a few chooks wandering around your yard, or an opportunistic Magpie who wouldn’t mind a meal of Army worms, you can let them feed freely. Perhaps even more importantly, eco-neem won’t harm bees and other insects that are beneficial and integral to the eco-system. (Note- avoid using around ponds and in aquaponics as it can be harmful to fish).
If you’d like some lawn care advice or have a different pest problem, get in touch with the team at Hendra Hardware.