By GEOFF MIERS
Christmas is for kicking back and relaxing but not when good rains provide ideal growing conditions: Close that book, switch off Netflix and embark on that first New Year’s resolution, shovel in hand.
Lawn, pest and disease and weed management all should be given immediate and continued priority.
Lawns will need regular mowing, a careful eye needs to be kept for lawn grubs and the lawn will benefit by being given a feed.
Lawn grass growth rates in response to the recent rains and humid conditions demand that most lawns will need to be mowed at least once every seven to 10 days. I’ve been watching the lawn across the road and it was mowed five days before Christmas and is now desperate for a mow.
Lawns allowed to get too long and then mowed are likely to burn and brown off, subsequently dying back and spoiling the previous appearance of a most healthy lawn.
Consider raising the lawn mower one notch to slightly increase the height of the grass. This increased height will limit potential sun damage particularly after mowing.
Lawns allowed to grow unchecked will promote an increased likelihood of lawn grubs as the moth is encouraged to lay eggs in the long grass.
While keeping lawns regularly mowed a careful watch should be kept for the presence of African Black Beetle and the Army or Lawn Grub. Both can devastate even w
ell maintained lawns.
The secret is to break the breeding cycles. If grubs or beetle are present mow the lawn, give it a good deep watering and then spray with an appropriate chemical and refrain from watering for two to three days.
The author at the 2015 Show.
Alternatively you may sprinkle a dry granular lawn grub control pesticide over the lawn and water it in well.
Try watering after application for 20 minutes to dissolve the chemical and allow the chemical to kill off any army worm in the thatch just above the surface and any Pasture Cock Chafer grubs that look like witchetty grubs that maybe just below the surface.
Leave for two hours and then water again for at least another half hour allowing the chemical to penetrate deeper into the soil. The African Black Beetle also look like a witchetty grub that can be at least 20 cms into the soil thus you need to get the chemical down that far.
Ten to 14 days after the first spray or application of a dry granular chemical follow the same procedure as detailed above.
This should provide adequate control for at least 10 to 12 weeks when if conditions are favourable for beetles and grubs it maybe necessary to repeat this procedure.
Lawn grasses will benefit by being given a feed if not fed since spring, more so since we have had so much rain that can leach out necessary much needed nutrients.
If given a complete NPK fertiliser in spring an application of a high nitrogen fertiliser like Sulphate of Ammonia should be sufficient. This will green up the lawn and promote healthy growth more able to resist mild outbreaks of pest and disease.
If you failed to feed the lawn in spring apply a complete NPK lawn fertiliser to promote strong root, stem and leaf growth.
December allows for some planting of vegetables and flowering annuals and more so this year with the mild moist conditions, however be warned temperatures can quickly rise and undoubtedly there is much hot weather ahead.
Personally I would devote my time initially to managing juvenile weed species quickly emerging and eradicating them from the garden.
Secondly I would manage any erosion issues arising from the four inches of rain we had just prior to Christmas and lastly I would concentrate on preparing the soil for planting in the vegetable, herb and flowering annual garden beds.
If you are keen on planting now don’t forget any plants being introduced into the garden should only be planted into moist soil.
Planting into dry soil and then watering the plant in and the damage is already done. The plant will have gone into shock, fine root hairs will have been destroyed and the chance of the plant dying are great.
In the food garden many plants are suffering now from Powdery Mildew. Cucumbers, pumpkins, water & rock melon, zucchini and grape vines are all experiencing problems with powdery mildew.
Powdery mildew appears as a white powder on the plants foliage and needs to be managed as quickly the plants foliage will dry and die off and subsequently affecting the plants health.
Plants affected by powdery mildew need to be treated with a fungicide with at least one repeat spray necessary to manage this disease. Sometimes a regular 10 to 14 day spraying program may need to be initiated particularly if rainy conditions continue to prevail.
As an alternative consider treating powdery mildew with a milk and water spray. One part full cream milk and four parts water sprayed weekly should bring the powdery mildew under control.
Spring and early summer rains have resulted in rampant weed growth that needs urgent immediate action.
Three corner jacks are of particular concern particularly for children, animals and push bikes, they need removing immediately.
Couch and buffel along with a number of broad-leafed weeds like milk thistle are growing with gusto with some currently flowering and setting seed. They all need attention.
Lastly irrigation systems need to be managed carefully while the rain keeps falling. It appears to have abated for a short while now so as I have turn on your irrigation systems where gardens were previously being water regularly.
Managing automatic irrigation systems may require you to quickly regularly turn on and off systems and regulate how much water is being applied.