September 26, 2008 Weekly Garden Guide

  • Most of the magnolias are past their peak now but the Japanese flowering cherries are coming in to their own and evergreen azaleas are at their peak, in northern areas at least. These azaleas are a member of the rhododendron family but much more forgiving in their requirements. You can even cut scruffy plants off just above ground level and they will spring back into fresh growth. You can also shape and clip them if you chose and the time to do this is just as they have finished flowering.
    • Give roses a feed now. If you prefer to avoid using fertiliser, at least give them a mulch of compost but don’t bury the plant’s crown.
    • As deciduous fruit trees show their first green tips, get a spray of copper on… You can usually get away with being laissez faire about any further spray programme, but this is the most important application of the season to prevent problems later.

  • Kumara can be encouraged to start sprouting for planting out later. Place them in sawdust in a warm, dark spot.
  • It is all go with starting off the summer growing vegetables in containers to get the leap on planting out in another month. Rock melons, water melons, capsicums, aubergines and tomatoes all need a long growing season so starting them early can contribute significantly to getting a good harvest. But it is still too cold to plant them out in the open.
  • The Curious Gardener’s Almanac tells us that the apple can grow at the highest latitude of all fruits. Apples need about 40 days of cold to produce their flowers which is why they can not be grown in the tropics. Raspberries, however, can allegedly be grown anywhere between the Arctic and the Equator.

    If you wonder why we rarely see blackcurrants or redcurrants in Taranaki, it is because we are not cold enough for them. They need a chilly winter to thrive and fruit. Gooseberries also prefer colder conditions but can be grown here. However you need to keep refreshing the plants to keep them going in our soft climate and mildew can be a problem. The home gardener can, however, get enough to have a pie or two and to combine with rhubarb.