Boronias can be disappointingly difficult to grow - or rather to keep growing for more than a year.
For most home gardeners boronia means the sweet-scented brown boronia, boronia megastigma, or boronia heterophylla, the red boronia, but there are many more, and a few basic rules will help give greater success.
Most boronias don’t have a strong and penetrating root system. The roots are near the surface and so can easily dry out in summer, therefore regular watering is essential.
Irregular and inadequate moisture is the main reason for boronia casualties. Equally, they won’t stand being waterlogged.
The soil should be well-drained and contain a good amount of organic matter such as leaf mould or compost. Make sure it is well mixed with the soil and not applied neat to the roots.
The shallow roots are best protected from hot sun with a mulch or low-growing plants.
Some boronias are happy in full sun, but most prefer dappled sunlight or partial shade.
Pruning after flowering has finished is important.
Regular picking of the flowers can achieve this, with up to a third of the plant’s growth removed.
Boronias don’t need a lot of fertiliser - a small amount of slow-release fertiliser will help to ensure strong growth.
Don’t be afraid, go ahead and plant one. Give it the right treatment and it could give you springtime joy for years.
Sweet potatoes are not grown the same way as ordinary potatoes. Buy some tubers from a vegetable outlet. They should be of moderate size and not too slender.
Put them in a container of damp sand so that they are covered by a few centimetres of it.
Keep the surface moist. They can take about six weeks to sprout.
When the sprouts are about 15 centimetres tall, remove them from the parent by twisting them off.
You will find small roots attached to the base of each sprout.
You plant this as a plant in its own right.
The tubers develop best in light soil or soil enriched with well-rotted organic matter.
Sweet potatoes are not related to ordinary potatoes, but they too prefer a slightly acid soil, so don’t add lime.
They have long, trailing vines and as with potatoes, each vine should be hilled up to encourage the development of better tubers.
They are very frost tender, but also need a long growing season.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin C and contain more vitamin A than most other vegetables.
They don’t need a lot of watering in summer and like hot, dry weather - in fact they are more drought-resistant than almost any other vegetable.
It’s time for planting fruit trees.
Apricots, peaches and nectarines don’t need cross-pollinating, but most other fruit trees do.
Often you can get away with only one variety, say greengage plums, because it will be pollinated by a golden drop in someone else’s garden within bee distance.
But if you have a pear tree that doesn’t bear fruit it needs a mate.
Hanging sprays of blossom from a friend’s tree among the branches will work, as long as the varieties are cross-pollinating.
Spray your fruit trees now, or in the next month or so, with winter oil to destroy lurking insects and their eggs.
Although lime is not a fertiliser it is valuable in increasing the fertility of the soil.
Being alkaline, it neutralises acidity and raises the pH level, making elements like phosphorus, potassium and molybdenum available for plant use, and creating suitable conditions for the multitudes of beneficial micro-organisms.