January-What you should be doing in your Top End garden this month

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 | Regina Downes | Comments (0)

Over grown lawns are consuming whole parked cars, weedy climbers can be seen choking out established shrubs and our native trees are looking stunning. I love this time of year!

What to do in the Garden this January

TREES                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     This time of year the trees in the Top End are doing their thing and are looking spectacular! Of course they are, with the high humidity and the down pours we are getting at the moment! Other than planting new trees, trees do not need much attention this time of year.

That is unless you want to collect some fresh seed from our native trees to propagate. Then this is your busiest time of year!
Most of our Top End native trees produce seeds towards the end of the year right into the beginning of the New Year. A lot of our native trees that produce seeds now, require the seeds to be planted immediately as they do not keep/store very well. Depending on how big or small our wet season is (I'm talking rainfall here) can determine on much seed some of our native trees produce in the following year or years to come. At the time of writing this short blog, there is a shortage of Allosyncarpia ternata seed in the Top End due to its poor seeding in the previous few years.

This time of year is also a good time to give your bigger trees and palms the once over, look for signs of any rotting trunks and remove any dead or diseased branches that look unsafe. All we need is one good blow to knock unstable trees and palms over.





This time of year caterpillars are going off and are enjoying a feast in our Top End gardens! It’s important to always check your shrubs for signs of caterpillars and other unwelcome garden pests.

Caterpillars are not always easy to find, even though you can easily see the evidence of their destruction you can’t always spot them on your plants, especially the green colored ones as they are so well camouflaged.
Plants that are prone to Caterpillar attacks this time of year; (think soft lush leafy plants) Crinums, Spider lilies (Hymenocalis), Alocasias, Cordylines, Bamboo, Gingers etc.

Different caterpillars feed on different plants, in different ways-some roll the leaves and feed, others just feed chewing out small holes on the leaf, some eat from the outside of the leave inwards and some just scrape away the top leave sheath of the leaf. Whatever way they feed it is causing harm to your plant.
How to control Caterpillars in your Garden
  • As caterpillars are soft bodied they are prey to lots of small birds and mammals, if you can attract these small birds and mammals to your garden they will help control your caterpillars, they do this by feeding on them. This can be done by planting native and flowering plants in which small birds and mammals can feed and nest on.
  • You can also let your chooks loose in the garden and they will take care of any caterpillars by feeding on them
  • Handing picking caterpillars off your plants is also an option but somewhat time consuming
  • You can also purchase a natural bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis) that will kill caterpillars but not harm any other beneficial insect such as lady birds
  • At time of writing this you can use a product called DIPEL by Yates on edibles (herbs & veggies) to control caterpillars
  • Success (chemical treatment) by Yates has also been proven to be successful when applied to shrubs and non-edibles


After a big down pour check your lawn for areas that look like there holding a lot of water for long periods of time. If the water runs of swiftly then there’s noting to worry about, if water sits for too long in your lawn you may have to think about getting some drainage sorted. If water sits in a grassed area for a long time it will make the grass turn yellow and die.


Some tips on what you can do to improve drainage in your lawn:

  • Dig up the lawn area affected and install a drainage pipe to direct the flow of water elsewhere out of your garden
  • Add Gypsum and coarse sand to your lawn (works if you have clay soil)
  • Add some rocks around the base of your down pipe to filter/drain off the water –works if the water is coming from a down pipe directly into your lawn
  • Once the wet season is over add some Nitrophoska Blue to your lawn, this will green it up and get it looking great again. (should be available from Barnyard or landmark) -its basically like rocket fuel for your Lawn!



If you are still keen to work in your fruit/veggie/herb patch here are few edible plants that you can grow now and will continue to grow through our wet season




  • Lemons                                           Mulberries white and black
  • Limes                                              Egyptian spinach
  • Oranges                                          Sweet Leaf
  • Paw Paw                                        Jackfruit
  • Bananas                                         Snake/winged beans
  • Dragon Fruit                                   Kangkong
  • Loofa/Lufa                                      Rosella
  • Barabados cherry                           Pineapple
  • Okra                                                Lemon Grass
  • Starfruit                                           Chilies
  • Tumeric                                           Sweet potato
  • Mangoes                                                                                    
  • Galangal                                          



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