This week July 28 2006

  • Prune and shape sasanqua camellias. These are the autumn flowering camellias which are finishing flowering. The rule of thumb is to prune most plants after flowering. Sasanqua hedges can be clipped now or specimen plants shaped and thinned.
  • Rose pruning: those in very cold areas might chose to wait until next month but in most of Taranaki, rose pruning is happening now or has been done already. If you don’t want to fiddle with cutting each branch back to an outward facing bud, a pass over with the hedge clippers is less elegant but reputedly effective. Keep rose prunings out of the compost. They need to be burned or fed through a mulcher. Treat any skin wounds from rose thorns with respect. Major infections are not unknown to unwary pruners.
  • For those fortunate enough to have macadamia and avocado trees, watch out for rats who will race you to both if you are slow off the mark. There is nothing worse than finding a rat has beaten you to the last of the avocadoes or that it has drilled though the macadamia shells.
  • Carrot seed can be sown directly into the garden. Protect the seed from heavy rain until it has germinated. We use a narrow strip of nova roof. Alternatively, a top dressing of compost will stop the soil caking before the fine seed starts sprouting.
  • Now is a good time to sow onions, to be harvested in summer.
  • Asparagus divisions are available in the shops. This luxury vegetable is a permanent fixture in the garden and takes three years before you can start to harvest a crop. That said, if you have the space and plan to stay, there are few delights to equal heading out to pick your own asparagus in spring. With our good drainage in Taranaki, we don’t need to worry about putting drainage material (gravel and the like) at the bottom of trench, but the recommendation is to prepare a bed by digging 60cm deep and incorporating compost, then planting the divisions at 45cm spacings with the crown 10cm below the surface. Mark thought he had dug to China when he prepared his trench for our new bed (double digging it all, too) but in fact he barely got more than 35cm so the 60cm recommendation may be a bit over the top.
  • Mark is just now finishing pruning the grapevines – even we follow our own advice, albeit a week late.