January 25, 2008 Weekly Garden Guide

  • No doubt we are not alone this week in having to deal with the unscheduled arrival of the winter firewood, although with older trees than most people, we may have to deal with more. It is a mystery to us why ours fell on a calm Friday night rather than in Tuesday’s winds but the fires here this year will be fuelled by tawa and pine.
  • Harvest garlic if you have not yet done so. To store it, garlic is best cleaned up and then hung with plenty of air around it in a cool, dark place. The traditional way is to plait the stems but if you can’t be bothered, recycled onion bags can be used (the orange mesh type) as long as the garlic is dry and not packed in tightly. Keep some in reserve for planting in mid winter. Imported Chinese garlic should be shunned in the garden. It is frequently infected by virus which is threatening local garlic producers and it is not worth the risk of trying to grow it. It is also a waste of time and effort because it has crossed hemispheres and its growing season is so disturbed that yields will be poor.
  • Do not be lulled in to a false sense of security by the small amount of rain we had this week. It was not enough to get the moisture content of the soil up and we are highly likely to go back to being very dry. With severe water shortages around much of the province, it is not sensible to indulge in dividing plants and creating gardens which will need watering to keep plants alive. There is not a lot you can do in the ornamental garden in high summer beyond weeding, dead heading, summer pruning roses and general maintenance.
  • As plums are harvested (Sultan plums are worth growing here), prune the trees to keep them open and well shaped. Summer pruning reduces the risk of silver blight getting in on the cut surfaces.
  • It is down to the last week for sowing corn for late harvest in coastal gardens but too late now for inland areas. Planted now, it will hold into the winter and extend your corn eating season into June. Sweetcorn fresh from the garden is much more tender than sweetcorn from the supermarket or fruiterer as much of the sugar content turns to starch very soon after picking. It is also getting late for sowing carrots so do not delay past this weekend on getting carrot seed in for a winter crop.
  • Continue planting lettuces and beans.