Newcastle Garden Guide by Brian Holt For January (Temperate Climate)

Remember these tips are a guide only. Your individual situation may require professional help.

There is no doubt that we are living in Australia when you consider the type of weather we have can experience at this time of the year.. As the summer heat continues, be prepared to reduce its punishing effect on your gardens with deep watering and mulching.

Drip irrigation, if adequately installed, can provide a deep watering which sends valuable moisture to the roots and subsoil. I also use ooze hoses around the garden. They can be repaired with 13mm polypipe joiners if needs be.

A good idea is to mulch around summer salad veg seedlings. As I detailed in my November guide, keep adding to the soil with manures, fertiliser, compost and organic mulch, so that the soil takes in and holds moisture and feeds your crops well.

Keep up successive plantings of things like lettuce for a good supply. If you grow them in large pots, you can move these around to a better spot if needed. Find a spot which receives morning sun and dappled light later in the day. The same goes for Silver Beet, which can also do really well in a good sized pot. I’ve had some in a pot which have gone past three years.

As well as keeping leafy crops moist, fertilising will keep them growing and delay them bolting to seed. If you are willing to muck about with a compost heap, keep any lawn clippings aside for making compost, ensuring that you aerate any clippings to prevent them going slimy. After each layer of fruit and veg peelings, add a generous few handfuls of grass. Introduce compost worms, add moisture when it’s dry and ‘Abracadabra!’ You will have worm turned compost eventually.

You may be enjoying summer annuals such as Petunias at the moment. If things get too scorched, plant out some colourful Portulacas which I am sure could tolerate the weather on Mars. They are great in containers.

Citrus should be kept moist, or when it does rain, the skins will split open. Remember to pick up affected or diseased fruit. The ooze hose or drip irrigation on Citrus is a good thing but be prepared to leave it on for hours to do a good job. Fertilise them each 6 to 8 weeks and mulch well with good organic mulch like sugarcane and/ or dried out lawn clippings. A dressing of cow manure and compost prior to mulching will be beneficial. You will be rewarded with healthy abundant crops of fruit.