Around the garden

December vegetable plantings include: sweet corn, beans, capsicums, tomatoes pumpkins, potatoes, silverbeet, carrots, beetroot, cucumbers, chillies, celery, eggplant, sweet potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, onions, radishes and the herbs chives, basil, parsley, thyme, marjoram, borage, mint, sage, shallots, oregano and rosemary.

Prune tomatoes by removing the side shoots that form in the leaf axils. 

A weed often found in lawns is capeweed with its bright, yellow daisy-like flowers  often confused with the dandelion.

A native of South Africa, this garden pest was first noticed growing in Australia in the early 1830s. 

Capeweed is more easily controlled if destroyed in the early seedling stage. For small outbreaks, remove by digging out the long tap root by hand then place in a plastic bag and bin it. Don’t put in the compost heap. 

The small, hard seeds are covered with woolly hairs, which enable them to disperse easily by clinging to things such as shoes, tools, wheelbarrow tyres and on animals and birds that frequent the garden.

For small outbreaks [of capeweed], remove by digging out the long tap root by hand then place in a plastic bag and bin it.

Bearded irises come in colours of clear blues, pure white, orange, apricot, browns, purple, bronze, lemon-yellow and gold as well as many bi-coloured. So, it’s no wonder they are still as popular as ever.  

The time to divide them is after flowering as the new roots are being formed. 

Once divided, the new plants should be planted as soon as possible

The rhizomes should be set in  well drained soil in a sunny position. The planting holes should be deep enough to allow the roots to be buried, while the rhizome is only half covered.

For a succession of brilliant dahlia flowers throughout summer and into autumn, now is the time to plant bud-bearing tubers. 

Before planting, drive in the stake then lay the tubers horizontally with the bud facing upwards in a hole 5-10cm deep. Don’t overwater at this stage, because it can cause the tubers to rot.

Succulents are survivors that have adapted to store water so that they can get through dry periods. 

One such plant is Sedum acre – also known as “goldmoss” – which aptly describes its low spreading habit and gold colouring. It develops bright yellow, bee-attracting blooms in summer and grows easily from cuttings. Ideal rockery plant. 

Another succulent is the portulaca, a trailing plant  that  thrives in hot, open, positions especially on sandy or gravelly soil and, on sunny banks it will quickly spread to form a carpet of brilliant colours in summer.