All About Gardening, December 2011
with Michael Coulter
On checking the rain gauge, it was found that we had 25 mms of rainfall last night.
Michael asked whether everybody had seen the cabbage trees this season. It was the most prolific flowering he had ever seen. Maori legend has it that if the cabbage trees flower early in the season it means we are in for a long, hot, dry summer. Maybe it’s because we had marvellous spring. The Black English Beech is looking great as well.
Summer means time in the garden. It is time for the vege garden to plant beans, beetroot, broccoli, carrot, leek, lettuce, potatoes and radish. We should plant aster, calendula, dahlia, delphinium, gazania, gerbera and petunia in the flower beds. Michael used the ‘W’ word….winter. Thinking ahead, he has already pricked out brussell sprouts for next season. As a gardener one must always think and plan ahead. With the really hot days to come, the moisture must be kept up to the garden. When stressed the plants will bolt to seed. On really hot days, evaporation can account for up to one inch.
It is time to spray your lawns for weeds. This year Michael has decorated his conifers with Christmas lights. On venturing outside around 10-11pm the festive trees are surrounded by thousands of airborne insects. On closer inspection they were found to be coddling moths.
Now in the time to spray your fruit trees. Grass grubs are also active at this time of year, so treat your lawns. Michael noticed there was quite a lot of mildew appearing. This was due to the nighttimes’ temperature. Black spot was also prevalent so spray your roses and fruit trees. He also suggested turning the leaves over on your plants to find spider mites and thrips. Conqueror oil is the answer as it is less toxic to humans.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q; Is sphagnum moss suitable as a mulch?
A; Yes. Sphagnum moss has excellent water retention and would be ideal.
Q; My lemon tree has lots of new growth sprouting everywhere. Would it be alright to trim it back a bit.
A; Thin out growth on lemons after fruit set as fruit is on the new seasons growth usually about Jan to Feb. Lemons are notorious for dropping their fruit. Don’t cut off the growth. Same applies to camellias.
Q; What do you use to control broadleaf in lawns?
A; Turfix. But do not spray on hot days and be very aware of susceptible plants bordering the lawn.
Q; I’ve planted a courgette in a rubbish bin, it has flowers but no fruit on it. What is the problem?
A; Be patient. The first flowers are male flowers and the second flushes are female. Odering’s Nurseries have got and new mildew resistant variety. Great.
Q; Would it be alright to shift my lime tree now?
A; When shifting the tree cut back by one third. Don’t shift it now.
Q; I have miniature daffodils that I’ve not lifted. Will they flower next year?
A; I’ve had mine in a pot for five years. They flower beautifully so I’ve left them. Take them out Jan – Feb and replant.
Q; Can you move olive trees now?
A; Shift prior to the plant becoming active
Q; Do codling moth attack pear trees?
A; Yes – they can make a terrible mess.
Q; What about codling moth on apple trees?
A; Apple trees tend to have either a heavy or light crop. A heavy crop last year may result in a light crop this year. The condition of the tree in late autumn determines the flower set later on.
Q; How do you store daffodils?
A; I prefer to leave the tops on and store in a dark moist place.
Q; Is it necessary to pinch out excess fruit off potted lemons/limes?
A; If a plant wants to produce fruit then why not let it. Today’s potting mixtures contain lots of nutrients’.
Q; When is a good time to transplant trees?
A; Beginning of March. Get a sharp spade and did a trench around the tree. In April lift the whole tree out with a decent root ball. Go about one foot up the trunk then measure the trunks diameter. Two inch trunk equals two foot root
ball. Best time to move evergreen plants is Aug – Sept, just before the start of new spring growth.