July 6, 2007 Weekly Garden Guide

  • When the weather is foul and wintery, remind yourself that at least the days are getting longer already. Extended daylight hours are some consolation for the fact that the worst of our weather comes after the shortest day.
  • Prune roses. If you have a fire or woodburner, cutting the prunings to short lengths and burning them is one way to go in disposing of this problematic waste. Never put them in the compost heap. They don’t rot down for years. Take flesh wounds from rose thorns seriously. They harbour fungi and bacteria and rose wounds can turn particularly nasty, even to the point of hospitalising you.
  • Snowdrops (galanthus) are one of the few bulbs which you can lift and divide when they are in full growth and flower. If you are lucky enough to have these little charmers, they are coming into growth now and you can see where they are. Most bulbs are moved in their dormant season and we have yet to find an explanation of why galanthus are different.
  • Prune wisterias but do not cut them off at ground level and then ask why you never get flowers. They flower on last year’s spurs and are treated like a fruit tree. Prune back to three buds on each spur. Take off all the long whippy growths, the wayward branches and badly borer infested branches.
  • Cut off old raspberry canes. Raspberries set fruit on the new canes but shorten these new canes where necessary to keep them manageable. Technically the old canes should have been taken off as soon as they finished fruiting but there is no harm done if didn’t.
  • Pruning of grape vines can be started now. Generally prune back to one or two buds per spur along the main vine. Remove all spindly growth.. It is the strong thick spurs you want. It looks really drastic but will pay dividends in cropping later.
  • Mark harvested some of our first sugar cane yesterday and subjected anybody around to taste testing it. To our surprise, it was actually very sweet, if somewhat stringy. We don’t think it has a great future as a staple crop here, except maybe for biofuel. but these garden oddities add interest.