Garden Corner – October 22

October: This year like last, is predicted by BOM to be another wet spring and that spells fungal diseases. Brown rot and black spot thrive in humid weather. Long wet spells perfectly suit the development of the fungus. Guaranteed your roses will be facing a spring of black spot. Fungal issues (Septoria, early blight) is also a risk on vegetables too. Good airflow and a regular organic spray regime will help stop the spread of fungal diseases. So pruning, removing laterals and lower leaves and not blocking all the breezes can make a difference. Some DIY Fungal recipes below.

Frosts are the limiting factor for a variety of veg in Sept. Lettuce can handle a light frost but a hard frost will set them back. Silverbeet and Brassicas (inc Kale) best delayed and sown mid-October on as cold nights (and frost) can tell them to bolt and go to flower. Old bed sheets or even old milk bottles are handy to throw over on forecast frosty nights or simply wait to plant till it gets warmer. It depends on how much food you want to grow.

In every nursery, you’ll now start seeing tomato plants for sale. Even if you don’t have a greenhouse, getting some seeds started inside or in a mini-milk bottle greenhouse can save you $. Use the 8 week rule between sowing and planting and time your planting to your average last frost. Tolmie is really a marginal climate and short season for tomatoes and though folks down the hill can get planting outside “after Melbourne cup” – up here it’s more like end of November. Cold soil is what will really set your tomatoes back, and can even completely ruin your chances of getting tomatoes that season. A tip when picking your tomato seedlings to purchase is to look for ones that have dark green leaves and have a purple colour at the base of the stem. This shows they are more hardened to our climate and have not lived in a hot controlled environment their whole life. Use black plastic/weed cloth or crusher dust mulch to warm the soil for at least 2 weeks before planting. And make sure you have them protected on cool clear nights. But don’t be scared to bring them in at night or continue to pot up your tomatoes until the soil is at least 20 degrees, and then plant them deep, and they’ll get off to a good start and reward you with Tomatoes as summer gets going.

In Tolmie, like in Tassie, selecting cool climate varieties of veg as the bulk of your plantings will boost your success. Dave’s Seed from Tasmania has a great variety of open-pollinated, heritage and hybrid seeds and lots of cool climate tomatoes and veg seeds that he has trialed himself. He has blogged his results and shares his tips for growing Tomatoes (and other veg) in a short cool climate season. Mention Tolmie Times for a packet of free seed with your order in October.


DYI Fungicide

Please note: Most fungicides and insecticides, even if organic, are toxic to bees. I’m a beekeeper and I spray late afternoon as sun sets to minimise any impact to bee activity

Roses & Tomatoes: Add 3 tablespoons baking soda and 3 tablespoons sunflower oil to and a 1/4teaspoon of dishsoap to 4 liters of water. Mix the ingredients well and then transfer them to a spray bottle. Spray the leaves of your roses liberally with the mixture, remembering to spray the underside of the leaves as well. The plant should be dripping wet when you’re done. This concoction works well when applied weekly to plants as a fungal prevention. It also cures some fungal diseases, including Black spot and Powdery mildew. For continued protection, spray your plant with this mixture about once a week.