Jobs for the yard in December

All the recent rains may have leached
   nutrients out of your soils, such as
   calcium and nitrogen. You should take
   time to spread some control-release
   fertiliser about the garden. When the
   weather bureau suggests we may get a
   week of rainless weather, you’ll need to
   apply a light spread of lawn fertiliser
   and water it in.

If you haven’t done it yet, prune your
   azaleas to keep them nice and compact,
   and give them a feed with azalea
   fertiliser. Spray them with a systemic
   insecticide (like Confidor) to protect the
   leaves from the dreaded azalea lacebug

The wet humid weather is heaven for
   vegetable caterpillars and grasshoppers.
   They can strip leafy green veggies over-
   night. Hand remove or spray once a
   week with something like as pyrethrum,
   Dipel or Success. Remember that water
   washes off any sprays – so retreat after
   rain or overhead irrigation.

Watch out for fruit fly in your tomatoes.
   You can protect your tomatoes by using
   an insect exclusion bag or by a chemical
   spray designed for the job. You can use
   a baited trap – but most only capture
   the male flies, and so are best used as
   an indicator of fruit fly activity. A more
   recent product is Eco-Naturelure which
   attracts both the male and female fruit
   flies and contains a natural insecticide
   to kill them. My advice is not to spray it
   onto the plants you want to protect, as
   it will attract the fruit flies to them
   before killing them. I’d suggest spraying
   a nearby fence or other structures
   nearby to lure the flies away from your
   precious fruits.

Fertilise your bananas and cut out any
   suckers you don’t want. For each
   mature plant, you should have one
   sapling and one sucker. Regularly
   remove yellowing leaves to keep the
   clump tidy.

Paw paw trees which have grown too
tall can be cut back now. Cut the stem to 1m off the ground and cover the cut top with a large can.

Prune back your grevilleas by a third
   and feed them with a low phosphorus
   fertiliser. This mimics being burnt off in
   a bushfire, and stimulates them to grow
   more branches – more branches means
   more flowers.

Don’t forget to slip-slop-slap when you
   go out in the garden, even if it is for a
   short period. Try to do most of the work
   in the mornings or the afternoons, so
   that you miss the heat of the day. Take
   a water bottle with you too – keeping
   well hydrated is just as important.

Tidy up the garden for Santa – he
   doesn’t think too highly of a messy
   garden.