March 2019 | Nell Carr
PERENNIAL PLANTS have replaced the formerly popular bedding annuals in recent times, but annuals can still have their places in the ornamental garden, particularly when weeds like twitch grass are a problem. The bed can be completely cleaned out to make room for the next crop of annuals.
The frost and drought resistant African Marigold, Tagetes erecta (pictured), is an outstanding example - in fact, it is originally from Mexico. It is generally thought to be a twitch suppressant, but some additional research reveals that the essential oils have anti bacterial and anti microbial properties.
Additionally, seeds saved germinate freely if sown in seed raising mix in punnets, and planted in the garden bed, or large display vessels when they reach 5 or 6cms. in height. Regularly dead headed, they will bloom on through late summer and into March. Leave a couple of heads until they dry out and collect the seed for sewing next Spring. All summer flowering perennials and shrubs should be dead - headed now to preserve their vigour.
In the Vegie Garden
Leeks, which revel in the coldest weather, are an essential ingredient for hearty winter soups. Sow seeds in seed raising mix, or buy punnets of seedlings, and plant in a bed well prepared with organic matter with a mixed fertiliser added.
Make holes 20cms apart with a rake handle and drop seedlings in the bottom, just covering the roots. Regular watering will slowly fill the hole with soil as the leeks grow.