This week 2 February 2007

  • The real heat of summer has not yet arrived (and there is no guarantee that it will this year) so the usual summer maintenance of watering has not been necessary but vigilance against weeds is critical at the moment. In many cases it is better to remove the hoed weeds than to rely on the heat of the sun to cook them.
  • If your roses are looking leggy and defoliated, summer prune them. Not as hard as the main winter prune but you can remove about half the growth at least. Given adequate water and maybe a light feed, they will respond by putting on fresh growth in a matter of weeks and another flush of flowers on repeat flowering varieties.
  • If you deadhead perennials and annuals, it really-o truly-o does extend their flowering season. Otherwise they go to seed.
  • Hoeing and tilling the surface of the vegetable garden is the usual summer method to conserve water. Believe it or not, the dry top acts as a barrier to moisture loss. The on-again off-again rain has made this difficult but as soon as it looks as if the heat will arrive, hoe and till.
  • For those who still want to get main crop potatoes and a last crop of corn through by winter, this is definitely the last week for planting. Keep planting salad veg and just about everything else in warmer coastal areas – dwarf beans etc.
  • If you haven’t done so already, deal to any wasp nests you can identify. Mark uses a teaspoon of powdered insecticide (Carbaryl, for example). The teaspoon is tied to a length of bamboo about 150cm long which gives some measure of safe distance when delivering the killer dose. Gently and quietly extend the teaspoon as close as possible to the entry hole (in it, if you can) and turn the spoon over. It is best done first thing in the morning when the wasps are sill dozy and cool. Provided you do it quietly, the wasps have no idea what is happening.