The sudden arrival of sunshine, heat and dry this week was slightly surprising after the severe cold of the previous week but we have been warning readers for some time about the need to get woody trees and shrubs into the ground as soon as possible. Make sure you soak plants in a bucket of water until the bubbles stop rising before planting, to ensure that the root ball is wet right through. If you are planting into full sun, you may need to acclimatise plants to the bright light by spending a few days having them in full sun for a couple of hours only. Many plants are grown in shady conditions (or under shade cloth) and can burn quickly in our bright sun.
- You can keep on planting out perennials and annuals in the ornamental garden as long as you are willing to water regularly while they settle in. Perennials can be lifted and divided while they are in full growth.
- Autumn flowering bulbs are generally going dormant now so you can lift them and fluff over them from now on if they looked as if they needed some attention earlier this year.
- It is probably safe to mow off your daffodil foliage now even if they have not yet died down. Removing the foliage a little early reduces infestation by the dreaded narcissi fly which lays its eggs in the crown of the bulb so the larvae can hatch and eat it out.
- Top priority this week should be getting mulch onto your garden if you have not yet done so. Bare earth is not good earth. Cover it with compost or some layer of humus to condition the soil and to reduce moisture loss.
- Absolutely last chance to sow seed of delights such as melons, aubergines, tomatoes and capsicums if you hope to get a full crop through. Buying plants is a better option now because they need as long a growing season as possible.
- Continue sowing corn, green beans and main crop potatoes.
- Get a copper spray onto tomatoes to prevent blight.
- Stay on top of the weeds. The push hoe is more friendly to the environment than glyphosate.
- Monarch butterfly enthusiasts will need to keep an eye on over wintered swan plants. The yellow aphid is invading the plants and needs to be destroyed because they do not disappear on their own like other aphids. Digital control (squashing them between your fingers) is the first line of defence as the first of your monarch caterpillars will be coming through and spraying with pyrethrum will kill them as well as the aphids.
If it is all too much for male readers, heed the advice of one T.H. Everett (whoever he may have been): A man should never plant a garden larger than his wife can take care of.