This week 26 January 2007

  • While grey rainy days may be dreary in mid summer, it has been a steady gentle rain, where we live at least, and absorbed well into the ground with little runoff. This makes for ideal conditions for planting again. Not perhaps large trees and shrubs (best held until autumn) but certainly annuals and perennials for late summer and autumn colour.
  • Alas the warmth and the rain will also result in speedy germination of weed seeds so expect to see an explosion of fresh weeds over the next two weeks and get on to them early.
  • If you have hybrid clematis suffering from mildew or which have finished flowering, cut them back hard now, give them a feed and start counting. In six weeks time, they should be flowering again on fresh growth. This won’t work on early spring flowering Clematis montana (the pretty but rampant pink or white one which is great for covering disused buildings or ugly banks) because it only flowers once each season, but most of the clematis will repeat flower with encouragement.
  • It is still a free for all in the seed sowing department of the vegetable garden but for us it is the last week for sowing corn. Mark makes this last sowing a large one because they will hold much longer in the cold of early winter. Carrots and even parsnips can still be sown although they won’t get to full size.
  • Plant brassicas for winter. It is getting too late for brussels sprouts unless you have good plants. Start successional sowings of winter spinach. There are two types of spinach. Winter spinach, or prickly seeded spinach prefers the cooler months of autumn to develop. Smooth seed spinach can still be sown but it won’t hold the same. It is generally sown in the spring.
  • Garlic has been harvested here and Mark can confirm that it is a waste of time growing Chinese garlic from the supermarket. The elephant garlic is hugely more productive and the certified garlic did much better. The problems with the Chinese garlic are probably to do with them having switched hemispheres and their growing season being dislocated.
  • As soon as you have harvested stone fruit such as plums, it is time to start the main prune on the trees, opening the plant up and thinning two thirds of the new growth. Summer pruning is done to avoid silver blight.
  • Grapes need another trim to remove laterals and to set the final length of the fruit bearing canes. Spray with Bravo or similar to prevent mildew and watch for mealie bugs.
  • Citrus trees need their summer spray of copper now.