Autumn Gardening

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In Australia, the Autumn months are March, April and May.

Now is the time to plant out new fruit trees. If you live in a frosty area then spring would be preferable. To reduce frost damage in winter, don’t apply high nitrogen fertilisers in autumn. Fertilize with potassium rich “flower and fruit” fertilisers. Don’t overfertilize. If you do, then the new growth is soft and can bring in the pests.You can also foliar fertilise with a seaweed spray as this helps thicken cell walls to better resist frost. and put out a handful of Cal/Mag per on your trees. Watch for Fruit Piercing Moth – net your trees / use fruit fly traps or sprays. If ants are a problem in your trees, then apply a sticky band around trunk of trees to keep ants at bay thus reducing scale. Tie a piece of cotton around first, don’t apply the sticky substance direct onto the tree

If some of your trees are not fruiting, give them some Sulphate of Potash with a bit of Urea. Peter Young from Birdwood Nursery says that if the flowers on your fruit trees are aborting, spray the following recipe on all flowers of your fruit trees – no need to use it on citrus. He emphasised that it must be sprayed on just when the flower starts to emerge although in Israel they put it on Lychee when the flower is 5-6mm.  Mix 1gm Borax in warm/hot water with ½ gm Urea and 1 litre of water or if you prefer to use Solubor instead of Borax, you only use half a gram as it is twice the strength.

To decrease damage from frost, remove mulch from around sensitive plants. This has the effect of heating the ground temperature, it is warmed in the day by the sun and that warmth is released at night. It will be important to replace this mulch in the spring when the risk of frost has passed and the ground temperatures have risen. You could also apply weed mat which warms the ground.

Avocado Hass ready to harvest. Inject all trees with potassium phosphite to control root rot (Phytophora cinnamoni) if necessary
Bunchosia  Pick fruit when bright red
Citrus  Fertilise monthly with 10.3.6  If scale is present, spray with white oil. Prune top.
Ceylon Hill Pick when the fruit turn black 
Coriander  Plant out now in a shady area. Remove flower stalks to keep it leafy. 
Custard Apple Apply fertiliser high in Potassium in March. Mix 1gm Boron with 1gm Urea per litre water and foliar spray. Thin African Pride fruit if needed 
Feijoa Major structural pruning after harvest – no higher than 2 metres.  Apply dolomite. 
Ginger Plant new rhizomes.  Cut back old stems that have not flowered. Apply a low nitrogen fertiliser and cover with 10cm of leaf mulch 100gm Sulphate of Ammonia and Sulphate of Potash until harvest. 
Lychee Fertilise at harvest or before harvest for late varieties. Stop watering once the post harvest flush is developing well. If you have another flush developing in April or early May, prune it off in early-mid May.  Prune out crowding branches in May-June to keep trees open and active.  This will encourage bud activity at the right time for heavy, timely flowering.
Macadamia Watch for the Flower Caterpillar. The adult is a small 6mm grey moth and it’s active in the first 4 hours after dusk. Monitor flowers fortnightly from May to July then weekly. A x10 lens is needed to find the eggs which are laid singly or in groups of 2 or 3 on buds or the flower stem. The entry hole becomes brown and often has a drop of sap exuding from it. When first laid they are white and later become yellow and are half the size of a pin-head. Commence when buds are 2mm long excluding the stalk and continue until full bloom is past. Spraying is required is 50-80% of racemes are infested. One spray when 75% of the main flowering has reached full bloom is advised.
Mango Tip prune when you pick your Mangoes but it is very important to prune in May. Take out crowding limbs and reduce the number of tip shoots if the tree canopy is dense – open up your tree so air and light can get into it. This encourages flushing then flowering at the correct time.  Don’t let them get too large. Fertilize after harvest with 1-2kg of Gypsum. Spray Copper monthly to prevent anthracnose on fruit. In addition, you can also mix up a solution of Copper with a water based paint and paint it on the trunk. A suggestion from the Philippines says to remove 99% of leaves after fruiting.
Papaw Fertilise with 10:3:6 or organic fertiliser.   Lime with Epson Salts or dolomite which includes magnesium. Sulphate of Potash also beneficial or you could use the soluble Potassium Sulphate – handful to the sq. m.  Ease back on watering. If leaves are yellowing, give Boron – 1g/litre to foliage and soil. Plant out young trees in March as they don’t get too tall when fruit is on. If your trees are too tall, now is the time to cut back.
Persimmon Apply plenty of Phosphorus eg chicken manure. Harvest when fruit is fully coloured.
Pummelo Ready to pick in June
Pumpkin Plant out. Leave 7cm stalk when cutting, let them dry in the sun for several days, dry in an airy space
Raspberries Cut canes to the ground after fruiting has finished, dry out prunings then replant. Big berries on new canes. 
Soursop The Cuban Fibreless are shy bearers – fertilise with Manganese, Zinc and Potash
Stone Fruit Prune in late May to keep to manageable size for putting net over the top to stop fruit fly. April – in frosty areas, giving Sulphate of Potash can reduce the effects of frost by strengthening plant cells. In March fertilise with high Nitrogen and Potassium (10:3:6) If trees show sign of rust, spray with Mancozeb
Strawberries Last chance to plant out runners
Tamarillos Take cuttings 45cm long from 1 or 2 year old wood. Remove leaves & cut squarely at the base immediately below a node.  Take your cuttings from disease free plants by cutting the bottom of the plant on an angle just below a node and put lots of them in a small pot. Water them once only, place a clear plastic bag over and attach a rubber band around the pot and place in dappled light.  
White Sapote Apply Potassium. Spray flowers with Peter Young’s mixture as above.
Wine Palm Pick fruit when bright orange
Fruit Fly See Aug/Sept 2007 issue of the newsletter for 4 pages on Fruit Fly. A new registered organic fruit fly bait spray that attracts and kills male and female flies is  available called Eco-naturalure. The best fruit fly netting is 50% Shadecloth. 

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STFC Newsletter April – May