Gardening notes and observations that may be of interest


Members from various locations in SA briefly report on their current activities

LATE APRIL – EARLY MAY 2017

At Strathalbyn
Plant spring-flowering bulbs
Experimenting with trench planting using weed mat & potting soil – when ready to put into permanent situations can be easily lifted with all bulbs in situ – hence no digging to find lost bulbs.
*This is being done with bulbs being grown on to multiply for future sale at shows.
Note -the previous method could be tried on the surface – as observed in South Africa by growers in the industry.
Nerines (which like to be grown in dry conditions) need some water while in flower to sustain blooms even if grown with hardy succulents .
Try planting bulbs of Tritolia Queen Fabiola with succulent Cotyledon obicularis for an attractive combination.

At Trott Park
Collect Lilium seeds as heads mature (ripen) - * have packets ready-named for collection to avoid confusion
Last year’s Liliums still too green for dividing & replanting – due to the large amount of rain in spring/summer.

At Mt Barker
Many pots of Lachenalia seeds being planted in potting mix to a depth of 3mm, covered with fine layer of sand.
Plant bulbs to depth of particular bulb - as a general rule.
Covering pots with gravel mulch recommended because it looks good, it deters disturbance by birds & mice & it helps prevent wash-out when heavy rain.

At Summertown
Establish Lilium seedlings while soil is still warm.
As beds not ready, a different method is being trialled – newspaper over top then fertilise & mulch. Punch hole through newspaper & plant seedling.
Dig up & shift Lilium bulbs that have multiplied.
Fertilise when shoots appear.

In general for autumn
Cleanup &deadhead
Jonquils, daffodils, dutch iris can have top dressing of a fertiliser such as Rapid Raiser.

LATE APRIL – EARLY MAY 2017

At Strathalbyn
Plant spring-flowering bulbs
Experimenting with trench planting using weed mat & potting soil – when ready to put into permanent situations can be easily lifted with all bulbs in situ – hence no digging to find lost bulbs.
*This is being done with bulbs being grown on to multiply for future sale at shows.
Note -the previous method could be tried on the surface – as observed in South Africa by growers in the industry.
Nerines (which like to be grown in dry conditions) need some water while in flower to sustain blooms even if grown with hardy succulents .
Try planting bulbs of Tritolia Queen Fabiola with succulent Cotyledon obicularis for an attractive combination.

At Trott Park
Collect Lilium seeds as heads mature (ripen) - * have packets ready-named for collection to avoid confusion
Last year’s Liliums still too green for dividing & replanting – due to the large amount of rain in spring/summer.

At Mt Barker
Many pots of Lachenalia seeds being planted in potting mix to a depth of 3mm, covered with fine layer of sand.
Plant bulbs to depth of particular bulb - as a general rule.
Covering pots with gravel mulch recommended because it looks good, it deters disturbance by birds & mice & it helps prevent wash-out when heavy rain.

At Summertown
Establish Lilium seedlings while soil is still warm.
As beds not ready, a different method is being trialled – newspaper over top then fertilise & mulch. Punch hole through newspaper & plant seedling.
Dig up & shift Lilium bulbs that have multiplied.
Fertilise when shoots appear.

In general for autumn
Cleanup &deadhead
Jonquils, daffodils, dutch iris can have top dressing of a fertiliser such as Rapid Raiser.

Changing seasons :- Autumn and Spring
At the end of the watering season, and particularly before the start of the watering season - if you use tap-timers to control your garden watering then it's time for maintenance!

Tap timers need maintenance.

They have limited life if not maintained because even though the manufactures take considerable care to prevent insects and dirt entering the timer activation mechanism, the biggest single cause of failure is insect ingress.
The most likely pests are the tiny spiders. These little critters not only drag their victims into the safety of the timer housing, but also build webs that impede the activation mechanism movement.
My own experience has shown that these insects are much more likely to cause failure than both water borne particles or clockwork mechanism failure.
Just this last week, I cleaned 4 timers for a Lilium Society member, and another 4 for myself. Only one had a faulty clock, and one had a water borne particle that prevented the switching diaphragm from actuating.
The rest were spider/insect related problems.

The in-line filters supplied with most tap timers are of little use, since their mesh size is too large, and in most cases, the soft plastic from which they're manufactures just tear apart and then jam the mechanism when they do clog.

So - we need to clean out our timers before use each summer, and if we have not placed them into storage during winter (we don't water then do we?), before the start of the next watering season.
If the timers have been left on our taps during the winter, we're just inviting all sorts of insects to take up residence - causing the device to fail when we next need it!

Not wishing to advertise here, let me just say that the timers shown in the images below have a maximum pressure rating that is at least 40% higher than other brands that I've either used, or investigated.
Were I live, we need every bit of that pressure rating.

Before you start - twist the timer knob in a clockwise direction and listen to make sure that the clock has begun to tick. No tick - no use continuing!

Tools needed… (2) - Small bladed screwdriver, Philips head screwdriver, Small stiff bristled "Art" brush (for cleaning out webs from very confined spaces), and an old, soft bristled tooth brush.

Disassembly:-
Using a Philips Head screwdriver, remove the 3 screws in the timer cover-plate. The plate (may) pop-up due to spring pressure.

Remove the spring and actuator pin from the centre of the diaphragm (image (3). Using a narrow blade screwdriver, carefully work your way around the edge of the rubber valve diaphragm, loosening it from the it's seating, making sure that the diaphragm is not cut or damaged, then using your fingernail, hook the diaphragm out of it's seat.

It needs to be removed to check that no foreign objects have lodged behind it, preventing it from correctly operating.

Carefully examine the two very small bleed holes in the outer circumference of the diaphragm (6). Clean them out if necessary.

Take the small screwdriver and move the timer clip (7) and (8) to release the timer module. It should now pull off the back of the valve housing.
Remove the trigger yoke from the back of the valve assembly and clean it.

Clean the accessible outer parts of the clockwork module, then scrub out the water valve housing with water, using a small brush. An old toothbrush will do most of it, but a finer (art) brush may be necessary in some cases for hard to reach areas.

Dry everything down, ready to start re-assembly. The Clockwork module goes on first, so re-attach the trigger yoke (14), and insert the shaft of the clock module into the slot in the water switch, noting the correct alignment indicated in the image below.(15).

Re-assembly:-
Re-insert the now clean diaphragm (10), then insert the actuator pin and fit the tension spring onto the plastic end of the pin.

Carefully lower the valve outer plate over the housing and replace the 3 Philips head screws (tight).

DONE! good luck.

Of Interest

I have been having problems with blackbirds either covering up, or ripping out seedlings, or seeds during their foraging (scratching) in my garden beds.
I tried several types of covers involving both polystyrene sheet and shade cloth. The poly was fine in cool weather, but overly hot in warm and hot conditions, and had to be removed for watering (and that's required frequently!)
After a talk to our garden club by Sophie Thompson where she mentioned a newer type of cover material, I did a web search and found that what I was looking for was available from John Walters of veggiepatch.com.au in West Australia.

The material is a very light woven poly type cloth called "Growcover" that CSIRO tests confirm blocks no more than 18% UV. It reduces wind damage to young plants, keeps them warmer in the cold, and cooler in the heat - and allows water to pass through during rain or overhead watering.

More info and customer comments can be seen on John's web site.
Cloth weave
In the image opposite, I've used 500mm lengths of 20mm PVC piping as support/anchor stakes. I've previously used timber, but it rots off after about 1 season), and lengths of steel reinforcing rod (but it rusts and gets expensive). The PVC should outlast me, and is covered by the 2 metre lengths of high pressure 25mm poly pipe that I use for the main supports.

On the far end of the bed I've used short lengths of the 25mm poly that has been split along it's length (used a pair of secateurs) as clips to hold 50% shade cloth onto a 2m length of poly pipe. This is the end wall that is left in place whenever lifting the "growcover" cloth.

The 2m lengths of 25mm poly pipe are slipped over the 20mm PVC anchors.
Poly pipe in place
Here we see the lengths of poly pipe in place.

Where space does not permit guy ropes from each end of the bed to hold the end arches vertical after the Growcover cloth has been stretched in place, you'll need some spacer tubes between each archway pipe. My arches are about 1m apart, so I cut 1m lengths of 25mm PVC pipe, using a half round rasp file to finish the ends of the pipe with a concave shape so that it would stay locked over the poly arch when assembled.

I drilled a horizontal 6mm hole through each of the poly arches at the top of the arch, and tied a length of twine (I used binder twine) through the arch at one end of the tunnel, then threaded it through each PVC spacer and Poly arch until reaching the far end. The twine was then tensioned and tied off.
Tunnel foundation
In the finished tunnels (opposite), the PVC spacer pipes can be seen running under the cloth at the top of the arches.
The cloth is gathered together at the far end, and tied off, then pinned to the ground with pegs made of fencing wire bent into a 2 pronged fork.

Elsewhere the cloth is held down with stones, bricks or lengths of wood - whatever is on hand. The closer end is clipped onto the archway over the top of the shade cloth with the home made poly clips.

Note: These clips may have to be further held in place with a self tapping screw during hot weather as the poly may soften excessively.
Finished tunnels
I have been having problems with blackbirds either covering up, or ripping out seedlings, or seeds during their foraging (scratching) in my garden beds.
I tried several types of covers involving both polystyrene sheet and shade cloth. The poly was fine in cool weather, but overly hot in warm and hot conditions, and had to be removed for watering (and that's required frequently!)
After a talk to our garden club by Sophie Thompson where she mentioned a newer type of cover material, I did a web search and found that what I was looking for was available from John Walters of veggiepatch.com.au in West Australia.

The material is a very light woven poly type cloth called "Growcover" that CSIRO tests confirm blocks no more than 18% UV. It reduces wind damage to young plants, keeps them warmer in the cold, and cooler in the heat - and allows water to pass through during rain or overhead watering.

More info and customer comments can be seen on John's web site.
In the image opposite, I've used 500mm lengths of 20mm PVC piping as support/anchor stakes. I've previously used timber, but it rots off after about 1 season), and lengths of steel reinforcing rod (but it rusts and gets expensive). The PVC should outlast me, and is covered by the 2 metre lengths of high pressure 25mm poly pipe that I use for the main supports.

On the far end of the bed I've used short lengths of the 25mm poly that has been split along it's length (used a pair of secateurs) as clips to hold 50% shade cloth onto a 2m length of poly pipe. This is the end wall that is left in place whenever lifting the "growcover" cloth.

The 2m lengths of 25mm poly pipe are slipped over the 20mm PVC anchors.
Here we see the lengths of poly pipe in place.

Where space does not permit guy ropes from each end of the bed to hold the end arches vertical after the Growcover cloth has been stretched in place, you'll need some spacer tubes between each archway pipe. My arches are about 1m apart, so I cut 1m lengths of 25mm PVC pipe, using a half round rasp file to finish the ends of the pipe with a concave shape so that it would stay locked over the poly arch when assembled.

I drilled a horizontal 6mm hole through each of the poly arches at the top of the arch, and tied a length of twine (I used binder twine) through the arch at one end of the tunnel, then threaded it through each PVC spacer and Poly arch until reaching the far end. The twine was then tensioned and tied off.
In the finished tunnels (opposite), the PVC spacer pipes can be seen running under the cloth at the top of the arches.
The cloth is gathered together at the far end, and tied off, then pinned to the ground with pegs made of fencing wire bent into a 2 pronged fork.

Elsewhere the cloth is held down with stones, bricks or lengths of wood - whatever is on hand. The closer end is clipped onto the archway over the top of the shade cloth with the home made poly clips.

Note: These clips may have to be further held in place with a self tapping screw during hot weather as the poly may soften excessively.
Cloth weave
Tunnel foundation
Poly pipe in place
Finished tunnels