November 21, 2008 Weekly Garden Guide

We are not great on growing annuals (my expensive packet of white cosmos seed failed to germinate), but if you use annuals for bedding, you will be wanting to get plants in now for a display when the family turn up for Christmas… If you can be bothered deadheading annuals, it greatly extends their display time because their instinct is to flower, set seed to ensure their continued survival and then die. So delaying the seeding stage forces them to put up more flowers.

  • Ornamental pots are remarkably cheap these days and a simple pot planted with annuals now can make a charming gift for Christmas Day – a good gift for widowed aunts or people who like flowers but do not garden much. If you want to do it well, buy a potting mix with a quick release fertiliser added, pop in the baby plants and keep watered and disbudded so the plants grow to fill the pot before you let them set flower buds a couple of weeks out from Christmas.
  • Wisterias can be rampant growers and are putting on their spring growth in a bid for world domination. Cut back the long, waving shoots to more manageable proportions – three or four leaf buds out from the branch is all they need. It is the same principle with apple trees which need an early summer prune as soon as the growths sprint away.
  • From here on, the ornamental garden is more about summer maintenance – pruning, shaping, mulching and staying on top of weeds. There is a limit to how much creative work and planting you can do over the summer months.
  • But it is all go in the vegetable garden where you should be sowing and planting successional crops of all the staples – corn, peas, beans and salad vegetables. Main crop potatoes, kumara, pumpkins and other cucurbits can all be planted. Watch out for pests such as whitefly, aphids, leaf roller caterpillars and the like. Early vigilance can hold them at bay and prevent major problems developing.
  • Queen wasps are still on the wing, building up their nests. Mark can be seen out with pyrethrum spray stalking both the queen wasps and the narcissi fly. Getting rid of the queens now holds wasp infestations at bay.
  • The one lawn weed worth spraying for is prickly Onehunga weed which makes it impossible to walk barefooted. We should have reminded you earlier to do it – if you have a problem with it, ask at your local garden centre for advice on which spray is currently recommended and permitted and make it a priority.

And a quote from Anon this week: God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done.