This week May 11 2007

If you are planning to move any large plants this winter, do not delay on starting to wrench them. Make a deep cut around two sides of the plant allowing for as large a root ball as practical. In a month’s time you make the remainder of the cuts and then lever the plant out a couple of weeks later. This slow preparation greatly reduces the shock to the plant and increases the chance of moving it successfully. It is particularly important to go through the wrenching process for large evergreen plants.

  • It is a myth from England that you can not move magnolias successfully. This may be true in the UK but we can vouch for the fact that it is possible to move quite large magnolias in winter without even wrenching them, as long as you take a large enough mass of roots with them.
  • Dig and divide. It is a very satisfying way of getting plants for nothing. But discard any plants which indicate that they are spreading alarmingly fast and threatening a takeover bid. And beware of the feeling that you must use all the plant divisions no matter what. There are limits to how many achillea, for example, that any garden needs. The compost heap is fine for surplus.
  • Spray citrus trees with copper. This is a very important spray to reduce diseases in the spring. Copper combats brownspot on the leaf and fruit which rots on the tree before it ripens. Mandarins are particularly susceptible.
  • Now is traditionally the time for a main sowing of broad beans. You can still continue planting brassica plants. Harvest pumpkins before they go rotten and dig main crop potatoes.
  • The autumn clean up in the vegetable garden is an important part of keeping pesky diseases at bay and good tidy practices will reduce the need for spraying in the future. The same is true in rose gardens where diseased foliage is best removed from the garden bed. The advice is generally not to compost rose leaves unless you manage a mix which heats up enough to kill the fungi and bacteria. If your compost does not get hot enough, you risk circulating weed seeds and every undesirable problem when you spread the compost around the garden later.