This week 16 February 2007

  • Water container plants daily or at least every second day.
  • Spray now for thrips on rhododendrons. The damage will be showing up now and if you do nothing the foliage will go permanently silver and weaken the plant. A systemic insecticide such as Orthene or Confidor is usually required. If you don’t want to do this, mark the plant for replacement with a higher health variety. Some varieties are much more susceptible to thrips than others.
  • If you feel the need to keep planting, make sure they are only small plants, hardened to the sun and that you have soaked the roots in water to ensure that there are no dry patches. Mark resorted to setting the sun umbrella up to shade his freshly planted vegetable seedlings one hot day. He was planting sea kale, a vegetable which has yet to prove itself to us but was a traditional winter vegetable in times past in the UK. There may be good reasons why sea kale never took the world by storm in the manner of cauliflower and cabbage but time will tell.
  • Harvest mature crops of potatoes and corn and replant with dwarf beans or winter vegetables. Prepare the ground and water deeply before replanting. Ground preparation involves digging and cultivating thoroughly which will help conserve water. If you added compost for the earlier crops, you don’t need to add it again this time around.
  • Harvest onions as the tops die. Store in an onion bag in a well ventilated dry place.
  • Keep lifting kumara runners to stop them rooting. If you let these runners root in, it takes the nourishment from the main cropping roots.
  • Continue to spray apples and pears with Carbaryl to attack codlin moth. If you have not yet done so, summer prune these trees now, reducing the leafy shoots to a couple of spurs. Prune out overcrowded branches. Fruit trees are best with an open, airy structure and you can cut back up to two thirds of the new growth on vigorous trees.