Anzac weekend is here and falling right in the middle of autumn gives us another long weekend to get into the garden.
There is much to enjoy and much to do. Getting into the garden is good for the body, mind, and soul.
A drive around the city shows off many Autumn colours including this great pic that I snapped out at Bason Reserve on Rapanui Rd.
These spectacular gardens are worth a visit any time of the year.
As I have said before autumn is the perfect planting time.
The soil is moist and easy to dig after recent rainfall and cooler temperatures mean new plantings are not stressed from hot sun.
Planting in April and May gives seven months for plants to develop good root systems before summer arrives again.
There is also so much to choose from; whether you want to establish greater privacy or shelter by planting a hedge, or use some strategically placed large growing shrubs or trees.
Do you want to harvest your own fruit and vegetables?
Plenty of these can be planted in autumn, whether it's broccoli to harvest in a few months or blueberries and a mandarin tree to give you years of harvesting – now is a good time to do it.
The weather should stay relatively warm for another five, or so weeks, so make the most of this perfect planting time.
Below I have compiled a summary of work to be done in different areas of the garden.
A lot about gardening is forward planning and the autumn months are very important for ensuring the garden's performance over winter and spring.
Now is the main bulb planting season for spring flowering bulbs and there are some amazing varieties to choose to suit every sized garden.
From tiny growing crocus suitable for a small pot, to bulk bags of daffodils and tulips for the planting of large drifts.
Each and all can make a magnificent display- but they need to be planted now.
The vegetable garden should have a first and even second crop of brassicas growing and now is time to plant another subsequent crop to ensure an ongoing supply of vegetables in the coming months.
The biggest determining factor in the success of the vegetable garden is very much a reflection of the soil, so the regular addition of organic material and nutrient is important.
Some good additions include; mushroom compost, Tui Vegetable mix, compost, Ican blood and bone, Ican organic vegetable food and sheep pellets.
Broad beans and peas can also be planted now. These are best sown direct into the soil.
A highly recommended pea variety is Chef's Best Pea Magic – from the Ican seed range.
It produces dark green pods on vigorous high yielding plants. Good resistance to fusarium and powdery mildew means you keep on picking to the last pod produced.
Magic has large tendrils which ensure upright growth with minimal support. It is rich in protein, vitamins, antioxidants, and dietary fibre.
Also, try Chef's Best Broad Bean — Mr Green Seed from the Ican seed range.
This is a broad bean that looks and tastes good. It remains green after cooking and is rich in minerals, vitamins A & C, and dietary fibre.
Fruit trees are all at varying stages at this time of the year. Deciduous varieties such as plums, peaches etc will be heading towards dormancy.
With the long hot summer, we have experienced this is a good time to start "clean up" sprays.
The long hot summer has seen an explosion in the insect and disease population on many plants which should be treated to ensure that eggs, larvae and spore numbers do not simply hibernate and the problem accentuates next summer.
If you like many of us want to minimize the use of chemicals in the garden then the "clean spray programme" is a good one to do.
Using the organic certified Growsafe Freeflo Copper mixed with Grosafe Enspray 99 these sprays work to eliminate and minimise a wide range of fungal and insect diseases including curly leaf.
They work on direct contact to the tree and insects so should be applied a few times from autumn and through the winter with specific timings in spring on peaches and nectarines to prevent brown rot.
There are brochures available in the garden centre around this topic if you want further information.
Other fruit trees such as feijoas are in season now, and are fruiting prolifically. It is a good time to plant a pair of these in your garden.
Citrus fruits are covered in fruit that is developing for harvest in a few months. These should be fertilised now with citrus fertiliser to keep plants healthy and fruit developing.
Check the undersides of leaves for mite and scale infestations and spray with Grosafe Enspray 99 mixed with Yates Mavrik to control.
Tamarillos should be developing fruit now, these are at risk from the tomato/potato psylid and should be sprayed regularly with Yates Mavrik which will also help control whitefly and aphids.
Fertilising now with citrus fertiliser is also beneficial.
Now is also a good time to fertilise rhododendrons, camellias and daphne.
These acid loving plants are all now developing their flower buds for a hopefully spectacular floral display later in the year.
Feeding now with Tui Acid Fertiliser will aid in the bud development and maintain a strong healthy plant.
If the soil structure could do with improvement then buying a peat bale and spreading on top of the soil around the base of the plant is a better option, and is far more suited to the acid-loving plants than compost is.
If pots and patio areas are looking tired then now is the time to plant some winter and spring flowering annuals.
These can give bright cheerful colour during the cool winter months. Pansies, primulas, cinerarias, polyanthus, cyclamen, dianthus and more. If planted now these plants will still be flowering right through till late September.
*Gareth Carter is general manager of Springvale Garden Centre