According to my husband Bill today is the first day of spring. I have trouble with this concept, I think September 22nd is the first day of spring because that’s when the sun is directly over the equator, half way along its journey south.
We’ve long since given up arguing about it since we’re equally convinced we’re right, and a state of armed neutrality prevails on the topic.
September 1st is also National Wattle Day. Australia’s floral emblem is the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) and the Wattle Day Association (www.wattleday.asn.au) would like us all to wear a sprig of wattle today, to greet one another with ‘Happy Wattle Day’ and while we’re at it to organise a celebratory picnic, morning tea or barbecue for families and friends.
I quail at the amount of activity this would involve on what is after all a normal working day, but it’s a lovely idea and the more we do to promote wattles the better.
Apart from anything else they attract sugar gliders to the garden, excellent for keeping Christmas beetles and other pests under control.
Meanwhile there is plenty for the gardener to do in early spring. My main September job is spreading fertiliser.
This is an activity that can’t be postponed, as the season of maximum growth is upon us and plants need plenty of food and, if possible, water to benefit.
I start by clearing out my compost bays, in desperate need of action at this time of year. Home-made compost is the best fertiliser on offer and theoretically, if everything you remove from the garden in the way of weeds, lawn clippings, fallen leaves and (shredded) prunings is turned into compost, you need never buy any additional fertiliser.
This doesn’t work for me in practice because my compost invariably shrinks to a few pathetic barrow loads and there’s nowhere near enough to cover the whole garden.
So I spread everything that has miraculously transformed itself into worm-infested soil on my flower beds, turn the half-decayed remains into a single heap and add some manure, and cover any remaining bare ground with blood and bone or Yates’ Dynamic Lifter.
Bill looks after the lawn for which I am everlastingly grateful as it’s a huge job and left to my own devices I’d probably plough the whole thing up and cover it with either gravel or paving.
You could write a book on lawn care, indeed numerous fanatics have, there’s even a Lawn Care for Dummies (Lance Walheim, 1998) but I’ll restrict myself to noting that spring is when lawn lovers (lawnatics) rake, aerate, top dress, weed, fertilise and give their lawns a preliminary light mowing. Just thought I’d let you know.
I don’t think Bill takes things to these extremes, but he’s already into preliminary light mowing, and he spreads superphosphate on the lawn in spring and autumn.
Not all NSW soils suffer from phosphate deficiency so if in doubt, check – whatever you’re using on your pastures will probably be right for your garden.
Flower and vegetable seedlings can be planted out from September onward. If you’ve ever yearned to grow those decorative trusses of tomatoes you see in supermarkets, thanks to Oasis you can now indulge this wish.
Look for Oasis Tomato Large Fruit Truss, a high-yielding salad or slicing tomato specially bred for strong garden performance.
In Fiona’s Garden, The Land, September 2011