November 9, 2007 Weekly Garden Guide

Now is the time to prune rhododendrons, including vireyas, which may have become leggy and woody. You can try the kill or cure approach of cutting back very hard to bare wood but only at this time of the year when the plant is in full growth. Feed and mulch the poor mutilated victim and hope it will reward you by springing into fresh growth. Do not expect flowers next year, however.

  • Deadheading rhododendrons should be taking place as they finish flowering. You want the plant to set flower buds for next year, not seed.
  • Apparently coffee grounds deter slugs and snails so you may like to try this around hostas although we have not tried it ourselves yet. Rimu leaves, sawdust, sand and crushed eggshells will certainly discourage newcomers. Do not forget cheap baker’s bran as an environmentally friendly option. It doesn’t kill them but they end up so stuffed that they are lying comatose in the morning for the birds to pick them up.
  • Pot up colourful annuals to give a summer display around outdoor living areas.
  • Get on to sowing melons right now if you want a harvest. They have a long growing season and we can be marginal in our climate.
  • Plant kumara runners.
  • Continue successional sowings of dwarf beans, corn and peas. All are much nicer fresh from the home garden than off supermarket shelves or out of the freezer.
  • Get the push hoe out. The weeds are having a party and you want to interrupt it as quickly as possible to prevent ongoing problems. Push hoeing on a sunny day means you can leave the weeds on the surface to shrivel, as long as they have not already set seed.