Monthly Tips & Tasks December 2012

Many of our members are establishing new gardens on old sites post-earthquake. This might pose some problems so look out for:

Interference from surroundings such as established big trees over the fence that might take all the nutrients and moisture from the soil. You will need to compensate for this at least until your new tree has established itself.

Problems can arise from newly laid drives and pathways that might leach lime into the nearby soil and disrupt growth. Check the PH of the soil, the ideal is 6.5 so use fertilizers to adjust the soil to ideal growing conditions. New laid concrete tends to raise the PH to harmful levels.

Transplanting from your old garden to your new garden, or just within your existing garden? You will need to reduce the top growth by up to a third, as the root is reduced by the move then the top must also be reduced. If you know you have to shift try to take some cuttings of your favourite plants with you, just remember to try to make the soil in your new garden as close to ideal for the plant as possible. Keep in mind that some plants are fussy about where they are planted, roses and apples are an example, neither likes to be planted in the same place as another rose or apple has been previously. If the ground you are planting in has got competition from larger plants you will need to add fertilizer, just check that you are using the correct fertilizer for your plants.

With the longer daylight hours, 5am to 9.30pm, and the warmer temperatures both day and night, make sure that plants in containers are well watered. When planting out new plants make sure that they get a good 12 hours soak to make sure that the root ball is wet right through. Cut the bag off the plant or if in a pot turn the pot upside down, never pull the plant out from the container. Use a sharp knife to make 3 or 4 vertical cuts through the potting soil to loosen the roots. One good long, deep watering a week is better than shorter, more frequent watering, this will encourage the roots of trees and shrubs to go down deep and help them to withstand the wind. A good idea is to check the weather statistics in the paper each day to see how much rain has fallen during the week and what the evapotranspiration rate is, in summer you need to be replacing this rate each week. Don’t forget, plants in dry soil cannot grow.

If you spot aphids, before resorting to spraying, first check the number of ladybirds that are present. If there are plenty then leave them to do the job for you, saves you time and money! However, aphids in your lettuces and parsley are another thing all together. There seems to be a new type of aphid on the scene which loves the closed, tight headed lettuces so it is best to grow the loose, open type and as for your parsley, spray with Maverick and observe the withholding time.

You have thrips and spotted mite on your strawberries and raspberries? You cannot eat them if sprayed so if they are ripe enough to pick, do so, then spray the plants and observe the recommended withholding time. Lastly, don’t forget to keep on top of the codlin moth on your apples.

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