June 13, 2008 Weekly Garden Guide

Kiwifruit can be picked firm at this time and you will speed up the ripening by bringing them indoors. Placing them in a bag with an apple, maybe in the airing cupboard or a similar warm position, speeds things further.

  • Owners of glasshouses can be starting winter tomatoes and cucumber from seed or from plants if you can find them. There are special varieties suitable for growing through winter indoors.
  • Fruit trees will be starting to make their appearance in garden centres and often sell out quickly. In Taranaki, apples, plums and pears tend to be more successful than peaches, apricots, cherries and nectarines so chose these first if space is limited. If you are buying bare rooted plants, go for the ones with the biggest root systems, not the best tops. It is what happens below the surface that matters most in establishing plants.
  • Keen vegetable gardeners will be continuing planting potato crops but only in warm, frost free, sunny positions.
  • Make sure house plants are not sitting in saucers of water and that you are only watering them once a week at the most. They are best kept pretty dry during winter.
  • It is time for the winter copper spray on deciduous fruit trees. Citrus trees will also benefit from a copper and oil spray, especially if you missed the autumn copper spray. We never spray the feijoas, tamarillos, passion fruit, kiwi fruit and other sub tropical fruits, but if you are filled with a burning desire to spray them, now is the time to do it. Copper and oil is a good clean up spray to combat mildew, scale, brown rot and all manner of nasty ailments that can severely affect your fruit crop. Copper hydroxide is apparently acceptable in organic management but copper oxychloride (bluestone) is not.

The Curious Gardener’s Almanac tells us that the first garden gnomes were introduced to UK gardens in 1847 from Germany and only one of the original 21 still survives. Lampy, as it is known, is insured for one million pounds. While some may think the Germans have a lot to answer for in this regard, others allegedly see them as an oppressed minority whose civil rights have been violated by unscrupulous landlords. In France there is apparently an underground movement, the Front de Liberation des Nains de Jardin, dedicated to de-ridiculizing the figurines by placing them back in their natural environment (aka the woods). They are still banned from the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show.