Gardening with Ruth



I have now planted cabbage, cauli, spinach, carrot, parsnip and spring onions in the vege garden and have mulched them well with old straw to keep the weeds down and the soil a bit warmer. You can continue planting out seedlings for a few more weeks yet but keep them well sheltered and use slug and snail baits carefully.
The freesias are well up, but my other bulbs are a bit slow this year. The paper whites are well up and some are starting to flower.
Now is the time to prune roses if you haven’t already done them. Cut them back to a healthy bud quite low down the cane. If you want to grow your favourite from a cutting, dip it into some rooting hormone and pop into an old potato. They will take root in a couple of months and you have free roses to plant out. Also prune any fruit trees that are not already done.
As I state every year, my nana always said that trees should be planted in a month without a “R”. So if you are planning additions to your orchard or garden, plant from May to August for best results. It gives the root systems a good chance to develop before the growth spurt comes in spring time.
Give your citrus a feed now as the fruit is starting to bulk up. A good citrus fertilizer is available from your garden centre and a copper or seaweed spray helps with the health of the fruit as well.
I am going to have to spray our peach trees as many of the fruit succumbed to brown rot this year. To reduce the chances of brown rot badly affecting trees keep trees healthy, well-fed, and do what you can to increase the flow of air around trees. Open up the canopy to allow more light in and air to flow around each tree. In most cases an open vase shape is best for peaches, nectarines, and plums.
Remove infected fruit from on and around the tree. Spray with liquid copper before bud burst to reduce the chance of infection. In most cases spraying with copper four times a year is is allowed under organic certification.
We have recently bought a beach house and it is on a sloping section which is completely covered in native shrubs. So there is not much needing to be done, we thought! Not so. Recently we have cut out four phoenix palms and up rooted dozens of agapanthus plants. We are also removing some of the flax jungle and I am planning to replant with low growing natives and grasses.
Where we removed a big phoenix, I am going to plant with kaka beak. It is on a north east facing slope and gets all day sun. So I am pretty sure that it will suit the kaka beak and should reward us with a colourful show. I am also planning to cut back some of the Manuka along the road front bank and replace it with creeping rata. There is also scope for clematis and some native orchids to be developed.
That is if I ever get over enjoying the view from the deck!
So now we have two gardens to keep us out of mischief.

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