With Michael Coulter

Winters here. NIWA has said that what we got the last few weeks is basically what we’ll get all through June.   May was cold.  Hate winter.  Hate cold.

Overall, temperatures for winter 2013 (June – August) are very likely to be above average across the entire country. However, occurrences of cold snaps, frost and snow conditions should, of course, still be expected in many areas from time to time, as is typical of winter.

June – August temperatures are very likely to be above average.  Winter rainfall totals are likely to be in the near normal range. Soil moisture levels and river flows are likely to be at near normal or above normal levels, for the season as a whole.

We should be on our mettle as far as safety around our gardens.  Slippery paths are a major hazard.  Spray with wet & forget, or similar product, and use the water blaster to clean up all paths and walkways.  Do the annual winter check-up.

Rake up all leaves and put in compost, only disposing the disease infected litter to the red rubbish bin.

Think forward and start planning next year’s garden.  I’ve pulled out geraniums and taken cuttings for next year..

Last year we had a guest speaker talking about citrus plants.  I was fascinated so went to Oderings and bought a Kawano and Miho mandarin.  Miho has large fruit with smooth, thin skin that is easy to peel.  Kawano also has easy peel, sweet fruit and is a good cropper.  I harvested about 5kgs of fruit and became self sufficient in citrus.  I planted them in big pots.  I also grow a Navel orange which I’ve had for 4 – 5 years.  Really thick skin.  The conclusion is….plenty of potash.  A fertilizer higher in nitrogen, similar to what we used on tomatoes.  I also grew a Tahitian Lime.  With citrus in large pots, don’t water after March.  The combination of water and frosts is what kills them.  Prune them as you harvest your fruit.  Don’t spray them a lot as many of us use the rinds when cooking. When they are young and in flower I will spray them for scale and sooty mould.  Stop spraying from December onwards

Last month I was in Invercargill for the Annual Chrysanthemum Show.  Was not too sure about it being held at a Garden Centre, but as it turned out it was fantastic.  We visited Lumsden, Kingston, and Cromwell in Central Otago.  The trees in their autumn colour were magnificent.  It’s a trip everyone should do once in their lifetime.  Put it on your ‘Bucket List’.

Question time;

Q;      My leaves are yellowing on my citrus plants, what should I do ?
A;      Lack of nitrogen.  They need three feeds in the year. One in spring, one in summer and one in late summer.

Q;      Someone told me sheep pellets are not right to use on my garden. Should I continue using them or change?
A;      Nothing wrong with sheep pellets.  Never change anything if it works for you.  If it’s not broke……don’t fix it.  Pellets do have nitrogen.  Most plants will grow, flower and fruit, despite what we do to them.  It’s what I call the X-Factor.    Experience. If whatever you are doing works well, don’t change it.

Q;      When replanting my roses do I trim the roots?
A;      When replanting, tease out the root system.  If they are broken, cut with a very sharp knife.  Cutting does encourage new rootlets.

Q;      I grew a thornless gooseberry which had no flowers and no fruit.  Are they different than other gooseberries?
A;      Treat them as a normal gooseberry.  Frosts will kill the flower buds Gooseberries need frosts in winter.  Suggest feed with potash.

A member closed the session with an offer of sharing garden worms.