Gardening with Ruth – September 2017

Well spring is officially here! Many fruit trees will be bursting with blossom now.
Spray stone fruit trees with copper to protect from leaf curl disease. This needs to be done before the blossom is on the tree. One or two flowers are OK but not a tree looking beautiful in pink.
In mild areas, where frosts have finished or aren’t an issue, it’s time to prune back citrus after harvest, prune to open up the framework of the plant to allow more light into the centre of the plant.  It also allows more light into the plant/tree. Always remove dead and diseased wood.
Fertilise around the drip line after pruning.
Prune feijoa once fruiting is over. Prune to open up to allow bird pollination, wind movement and sunlight in for fruit ripening. It is not necessary to prune feijoas every year. Wait until after fruiting has finished, then can be pruned hard. How you prune depends on if you want to create a hedge or just trim the branches back to the desired length. Use the hedge clippers to shorten the height and the loppers to open up the plant. Again take out any diseased or dead wood first then shape to fit your space.
In the vege garden you can sow beans, capsicums, courgettes, cucumbers, eggplants, sweetcorn, tomatoes and basil, in trays. Broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, lettuces, mesclun, mizuna, radishes, rocket, spinach and silverbeet outside. So get out and start your summer feast.
In your flower garden plant out aster, chrysanthemum, poppy, carnation, cosmos, dahlia, dianthus, gazania, geranium, gerbera, godetia, gypsophila, marigold, petunia, nasturtium, phlox, salvia, snapdragon, verbena and wallflower. The choice is endless, but remember there are still some last minute twists in winter’s tail. Watch out for late frosts in September and even into October.
September is also the ‘windy month’ with equinox around Wednesday 20. This often bring strong winds that blow blossom off many fruit trees and wreaks havoc with unstaked taller plants.
Indoors at the moment I am enjoying my cymbidiums which are flowering well this year. I leave them outside all year—under a sheltered tree. When the spikes start to appear, bring them inside to protect them from slugs and snails. They are not the most tidy of plants but the flower spikes are lovely.
Speaking of things slimy—now is the time that slugs and snails come out of their winter mode and start eating everything in their path. Protect your precious plants and this includes trees and shrubs. I have found slugs almost at the top of peach trees, after the tender new shoots!
September by the moon:
1-2 Plant out leaf crops.
3 – 8 Cultivate and weed. Add manure to the soil.
9 – 10 Plant your potatoes ready for Christmas.
11 -17 Take a week off and plan your planting regime.
18 – 23 cultivate and weed
24 – 30 Plant everything except root crops.
With so much citrus around at the moment, these quick recipes may help to use some of them.
Lemon water ice
Or otherwise known as a granita. It can be served as a sherbet, put into drinks or used to cool lemonade.
Put 2 cups water and 100g sugar into a saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer 5 minutes. Leave to cool.
Stir in 1Tbsp grated lemon rind and 1 cup lemon juice.
Place in a shallow dish and freeze. (Or you can put into cubes if using in drinks)
To serve as a granita: shave off the mixture by scraping with a heavy spoon. Place in serving glasses and return to freezer. Decorate with a little mint to serve
You can also modify this to make a very refreshing lemonade
Used 1 cup of water and 200g sugar and heat as above.
Grate rind of three lemons and 3 cups lemon juice and add to cooled mixture.
Put small amount into a glass and top with cold water to your taste. Or premix in a large container and keep in the fridge. The kids love it.
Orange and avocado salad
This is a recipe given to me by our French/Canadian exchange student many years ago.
Avocado, orange in the same quantities.
Quarter orange and dice avocado.
Put into a bowl and add enough creamy mayonnaise to coat the fruits.
Season with salt and pepper. I sometimes add a little chilli— fresh or powder or some toasted almonds or walnuts.

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