Harvesting peas after the beginning of February can be a
By the second month of the year, many soils have become too
dry for the plants to grow and the pods to fill.
Mildew tends to be common in dry seasons and can be difficult
to control as it spreads rapidly through closely growing pea
Wet autumns are more favourable for peas, but even then there
is some danger from fungous diseases.
Peas like their roots to be cool and kept moist, so it is
almost impossible to produce a good crop of late peas on dry,
shallow soils, unless the area is well-cultivated and plenty
of humus is added.
After watering in dry weather, mulching with lawn clippings
or compost will give peas a boost.
All brassicas, including cabbages, cauliflowers and turnips,
are a favourite food of white butterfly caterpillars and
clouds of white butterflies can sometimes be seen over
paddocks of swedes. In the garden, white butterflies are seen
from now until late autumn.
They can be kept under control by treating plants with derris
Do not use plants within a week of dusting and wash
thoroughly before eating.
Grey aphids spend the winter in small numbers on
over-wintering plants, such as cabbages and Brussels sprouts,
then multiply rapidly as the weather warms.
The bluish-grey colonies live on both sides of leaves, which
can curl and twist as the pests' sucking activities damage
A simple spray of dish-wash liquid mixed with water (15ml
dish-wash to 1 litre of water) will help keep plants clean
and healthy, and is much cheaper than commercial
Small plants that have been badly attacked by aphids rarely
recover and are best pulled out. Potatoes planted in August
will be maturing and ready to eat for Christmas dinner.
Dig them just before using, two days ahead at most, because
the immature tubers do not store well.
When left in the soil, they will continue growing and even a
few extra weeks in the ground can produce a crop that is
twice as heavy.
Main-crop potato plantings will be ready for a final
A dressing of sulphate of ammonia (50g per metre of row) will
encourage the extra foliage growth necessary to convert
sunlight into food materials.
By the middle of this month, no more asparagus should be cut,
so the plants can build up food reserves in the roots for
next season's crop.
Weed or cultivate carefully among the plants (crowns) to
avoid damaging the fine, feeding roots.
The plants are most active at this time of the year and will
benefit from a mulch of garden compost, mixed with blood and
bone manure (200g to a 10-litre bucket of compost). This
mulch also helps keeps weeds down.
They rarely get it, but flowering annuals deserve the same
care given to vegetable crops.
The roots of many annuals are short-lived and rather feeble,
and if there is too much competition for the available food,
Young plants that have a single stem with one flower bud
should have that bud nipped out to encourage bushier growth.
When it comes to watering, big is best. Watering in small
doses brings roots close to the surface, so when the garden
is dry, soak it thoroughly.
This means fewer sessions with the hose and lower water use
overall, particularly important if council water restrictions
are in force.
Roses picked for indoors should be cut just above a
five-fingered leaf. This form of summer pruning helps ensure
a good display in autumn from repeat-blooming varieties.
Do not pick flowers when they are wet.
Cutting off withered blooms regularly will give a longer
This is especially true for sweet peas. Rock garden spring
displays will be over, so faded flower heads and seed pods
should be removed.
If these are left to mature, the plants will lose some
vigour. Spreading plants can be trimmed back a little to
encourage strong basal growth and prevent dry centres
Alpine plants that have finished flowering can be trimmed
Look out for slugs and snails hiding under the cover of
Primroses and polyanthus can be divided in early summer.
If very large clumps are allowed to form, fewer flowers will
These plants need ample supplies of manure or compost, so mix
a generous amount into the soil before replanting. Water
generously until the plants are established.
Gazanias are reliable plants for hot, sunny banks and
corners. Although perennial, they are only half-hardy, with
limited tolerance of frost, so cannot be wintered over in
most of the region.
Lawns can have a twice-yearly dressing of a commercial mix
containing superphosphate and sulphate of ammonia.
Scatter 30g of the mixture for each square metre of lawn and
water well. An easy way to distribute the fertiliser is to
mix it with its own volume of dry soil or sand.
Cover the area as evenly as possible. Any overdressed areas
will show burned patches, but they will soon recover.
Loganberries, cultivated blackberries and related plants
tayberries, youngberries, boysenberries and marionberries can
have their fruiting branches removed entirely once the crop
has been harvested.
Some thinning of new growth might also be needed in vigorous
plants, and tie up canes that are to bear next season's fruit
so the wood is exposed to the sun to ripen it.