August – All About Gardening

With  Michael  Coulter

Michael opened with last night’s brilliant display of  lightning and roaring thunder, followed by ‘golf-ball sized’ hailstones.  ‘’I lost about 100 panes in my glasshouse’’ he said.  Hailstones in some suburbs measured about 3cm in diameter.  Metservice weather forecaster, Allister Gorman, said hailstones larger than 20 millimetres put the storm in the ‘severe’ category.

There were about 300 lightning flashes in Canterbury, Gorman said.

‘It was a classic springtime event and the sort of storm we would typically see in the summer – but it is a while since Christchurch had one’ said Michael.

Look at your garden. ‘After last night you may be a bit depressed, but after a bit of tidy up, it will spring back into shape’ said Michael.  Fruit trees got a bit knocked about.

A lot happened last month. Michael mentioned, with a touch of sadness, the passing of long-time member, John Walsh.  Most plants in the garden have a story to tell.  Who gave you this cutting and where this bulb came from.  Michael said that the daffodil bulbs planted at the entranceway to the Horticultural Society were mainly planted by John and would always remind him of John Walsh.

Michael also went to the Vegetable Section meeting, for the first time, where a guest speaker spoke on the potato psyllids.  There is nothing natural to control them so you will have to use sprays.  They are looking at natural ways to control the pest.

‘It has been mild’ said Michael.  It was an extremely wet August in the north and east of the South Island. The frequent northeast winds during the month produced an unusually mild August inland.

The highest temperature was 22.7 degrees Celsius observed in Christchurch on 26 August.

Of the six main centres in August 2012, Auckland was the warmest and sunniest. Tauranga the wettest, Christchurch the driest and Dunedin the coolest and cloudiest.

Magnolias are out earlier and are looking magnificent in Christchurch at the moment.

Forsythias are about ten days early.

‘The temptation is to do things early’ said Michael.

‘We are still going to get late frosts and easterly winds are predicted on the weather patterns’ he said.

Q;    Is there a spray you can use for psyllids

A;   Any spray that controls aphids. The female can lay 15,000 eggs. Spray the

undersides of leaves and spray vegetables with some reluctance.

Live with controlling it rather than trying to eradicate it.

Q;  Is it too early to plant runner beans ?

A; Yes.  A good indication is when the ones left in the ground from last year start

shooting, it is time to plant new ones.

Q;  I treated moss in the lawn with sulphate of iron last night. Would the heavy rain

     last night have affected it ?

A;  Sulphate of iron burns the moss. Lawn science man’s theory is the anything that

reduces the thickness of the lawn helps aid the growth of moss, e.g. mowing the

lawn too short, compaction, poor drainage and the creation of shade.

The black vine weevil is a pest of over 100 landscape plants. The adults feed on a wide variety of evergreen, deciduous and herbaceous plants. They like rhododendrons, camellias etc.

Warm days signal the infestations of aphids. Michael suggests spraying with Maverick.

Many years ago Michael planted native trees in his garden hoping to attract native birds to visit.  While working in his glasshouse he heard birds singing outside.  To his amazement he found a bellbird singing the joys of spring from atop the tree. I don’t know who was happier……the bellbird….or Michael.

Dave Adams had some useful tips for members. Solar powered outside lights can be taken inside during a power cut to provide handy lighting. His favourite light however was an Eveready Dolphin LED Lantern torch, with 100 lumens light output.

Purchased from Mitre 10 at a reasonable price, he swears by the Dolphin. ‘YOU HAVE ALL NOW BEEN ENLIGHTENED’ he said.