Get out into the garden this weekend to plant some colour and aroma, or try your hand at home-grown antioxidants.
In the garden: Plant some blueberries, gardenias and petunias
Most backyard veggie gardeners don’t aspire to grow blueberries and, in most cases, there are good reasons for that. The main one here in South Australia is the weather. Even the newer varieties available are generally more difficult to grow than many other berry crops, such as raspberries. So, if you are one of the keen gardeners ready to give it a go, the evergreen Blueberry Burst is the one to try. The fruit is crisp, sweet and harvested over three to four months, resulting in a constant supply of delicious healthy fruit, filled with antioxidants. There are a few tricks to growing blueberries, and it is important to aim for a soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5. Also look out for Blueberry Kisses, they make a great pair.
Believe it or not, gardenias are not that difficult to grow in South Australian gardens. What could be more stunning than growing your very own gardenia, knowing that each year, as the weather warms, it will bud up and produce the beautiful flowers that emit the most intoxicating and seductive perfume. So why haven’t we all got them growing in our gardens? The simple reason is that we treat them as a shade-loving plant, which is wrong. Gardenias are a tropical plant and love our warm weather. They are also indigenous to the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, Asia and Australia. The most ideal position in the garden is a well-draining, nutrient-rich soil, and a position that receives morning sun. But, like a tomato plant, they require protection from the searing hot afternoon summer sun. A north-facing aspect would be almost perfect, and look at growing a few together as they love company. While they are growing, feed regularly with a fertiliser best suited for acid-loving plants and with a little luck they will flower from November until April, depending on the variety.
Petunias love a hot spot in the garden, or in a pot placed where that special splash of colour is needed. Petunias come in a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes. Some are perfect for garden borders, others are at home in a hanging basket. They are best planted out in mid-spring. If this is not possible, they can be purchased in full flower from nurseries at any time. Ensure larger petunias planted out in the garden receive daily watering and the occasional dose of Seasol to help them establish in their new home. Water petunias regularly and initially apply a light sprinkle of a slow-release fertiliser around the root area, then liquid fertiliser every few weeks. Pinch back from time to time and they will flower for months on end.
This story first appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of SAGardens & Outdoor Living magazine.