Shade & Shadecloth
As a Society we promote sun-hardened plants and growing in full sun conditions. However, in some locations some common sense must be applied in certain circumstances, particularly in extremely hot conditions such as we experienced in the last summer.
In the eastern hills, which is primarily ironstone and granite country, temperatures in the January – March period are invariably above Mt Lawley readings by 2 – 3°C. Seldom does an afternoon sea breeze prevail! Protect your plants by either providing natural shade under a tree or by using shade cloth.
During a fortnight long hot spell in November 2013 I lost 60 new divisions by not reacting quickly enough by providing some relief.
TENDING YOUR GERBERAS – JANUARY / FEBRUARY / MARCH
These are traditionally hot months. In addition to the sun protection stated above, you will need to give a your gerberas a good drink each day and regular fertilising as nutrients can be lost with the added watering. Gerberas in the ground will benefit from mulching to protect the roots and keep moisture in. Keep mulch away from the crown as heat may build up and “cook” the plant!
Drooping of leaves and flowers may occur through the day but the plant will recover once water is given and the day cools.
Mid Feb – March increase the fertilising routine to ready your show blooms!
If you have a pot that shows signs of drying out, stand it in water in a half full ice-cream container overnight.
LEGIONELLA – THREAT TO GARDENERS
Excerpt from an article by Katie Hampson – West Australian Sept 17 2014
In WA there is, on average, 70 cases a year of the potentially fatal strain Legionella longbeachae which can be found in potting mixes, compost heaps, mulches, soil conditioners and composted manures.
It generally affects the lungs, causing severe pneumonia and the bacteria is most likely to attack the over 50's gardeners, smokers and those with weakened immune systems. It is spread by inhaling dust from contaminated matter or ingestion from hand to mouth.
According to Llew Withers, manager of applied environmental health at the WA Department of Health, all gardeners should wear gloves and a face mask to avoid inhaling the dangerous aerosols of these substances. They should keep the mix damp while in use and wash hands thoroughly after handling garden products. Cases of Legionella longbeachae are prevalent in WA due to complacency when handling potting mix and blended soils.
He said most people do not realise that the primary component of potting mix and blended soil is human waste – sewage sludge. People need to be aware that handling human or animal manures need to be aware they can catch all sorts of diseases if not vigilant with hygiene.
Early symptoms of Legionella longbeachae are often like a severe flu. They may include fever, chills, a dry cough, severe headache and tiredness, loss of appetite and shortness of breath. In acute cases, the bodily system may be affected, leading to diarrhea, vomiting, mental confusion and even kidney failure.
While there is no vaccine, patients who sought medical attention early were given antibiotics and began to improve within 3-5 days with treatment lasting 10-14 days. Scientist are not sure why there are so many more cases in WA compared with other parts of the world but gardening soils now feature warning labels.
It is recommended to wear a mask and to open potting mix bags to let them “breathe” before use. If the bag has been sitting in the sun for a prolonged period and contains Legionella it will have grown and multiplied and opening the bag will release the bacteria into the air.
Contribution: Barry Schoch