While August is still rated as winter, the worst of the winter weather has probably passed in July. So prepare for the sudden onset of spring growth. Mulching garden beds can help reduce the explosion of weeds germinating as soon as temperatures rise but the layer of mulch will need to be around 10cm thick to work. Use bark chips or fines, compost if it is weed free, leaf litter, wood shavings (not tanalised) or pea straw. Dunedin gardeners may still use the cocoa husks from Cadburys that we remember from our days of living there – a decidedly chocolate aroma from garden mulching is a smell peculiar to that southern city.
Prune sasanqua camellias now that they have nearly all finished flowering.
Fuchsias can be pruned in mild areas. These are one of the easiest plants to strike from cuttings so you can use the firm growth from last season to create new plants. You will get a higher success rate if you put the cuttings in potting mix in a sheltered place.
Dig in green crops in the vegetable garden. It takes time for them to break down and the woodier the green crop, the longer it will take to decompose. Allow four weeks before planting again.
Garden centres will have their biggest selection of fruit trees available at the moment. As a general rule, fruit trees like full sun and good drainage but you can get away with tamarillos in a woodland setting. Generally speaking, plums, apples and pears are successful throughout Taranaki and coastal areas can grow good citrus. Sadly, apricots, peaches and cherries are not going to grow well here. They prefer poor stony soils, hotter summers, colder winters and drier conditions.
Slugs and snails will be on the move very soon as temperatures rise. Be vigilant but be very cautious with poisoned baits. It is very distressing to kill your dog (not that we have done that here), as well as hedgehogs. Baits have a lure added and will attract the prey so you do not need to carpet the ground. Be sparing. There are also a number of other ways of controlling these pests without poison – the buried beer can, the upside down half citrus shell, digital control by torchlight etc.
Take a look at the Kings Seeds Catalogue for an impressive selection. No less than 47 different tomatoes with many heirloom varieties. Did you know there are 14 different types of radishes available here? While many of the mainstream annuals and vegetable seeds are included, this is where you source material which is a little different. It also includes an organics section, micro greens, herbs, gourmet vegetables and even fragrant oils. Online at www.kingsseeds.co.nz or phone on 07 549 3409 to order a catalogue.