January 4, 2008 Weekly Garden Guide

It has been a great season for roses with low humidity and rainfall. I summer prune roses constantly, both deadheading and cutting back long stems to a leaf bud. Roses put on a phenomenal amount of growth and if you keep pruning them, they stay bushier and will respond with new shoots which counteracts the defoliated look of leggy black spot infested bushes as the season progresses for those of us who don’t spray our roses.

  • Roses carry some pretty nasty fungi and bacteria. Take wounds from roses more seriously than other minor afflictions lest you find yourself hospitalised with cellulitis (not to be confused with the late Princess Diana’s puckered cellulite). It does happen – ask any hospital nurse.
  • Don’t scalp the summer lawn. Set the level higher on the lawnmower. Leaving more length will keep your lawn greener and healthier. Using a sprinkler to water the lawn is probably as unacceptable as driving an SUV these days and if you are still indulging in this practice, it may be time to question how necessary it is.
  • You can still plant pumpkins, runner beans and tomatoes for a late crop but do not delay.
  • Seed sown vegetables such as carrots need watering daily in the early stages to prevent burning off at the base in the sun. They need a little assistance to get well established.
  • Keep up the successional sowings of corn and green beans and you can still plant main crop potatoes. Keep a few of the early maturing varieties back to plant in autumn for a winter crop of new potatoes.
  • If you buy plants from garden centres at this time of the year, take note as to whether they are being held in the full sun. Often annuals and seedlings are displayed on a shady side of the building and you are going to have to harden them off before planting them out in the full sun or they will fry. Hardening off involves giving them an hour or two only in full sun to start off with.
  • Keep watering container plants daily.