December 5, 2008 Weekly Garden Guide

  • Potted colour (flowering annuals which are sold in larger pots rather than in small punnets) are often ridiculously cheap and can give instant flowering oomph to gardens, but it pays to be severe and cut off all flowers, flower buds and any spent flowers as you plant them if you want them to be more than a one week wonder. They can then recover from the stress of being planted out before putting their energies into flowering and setting seed.
  • Be very cautious from here on about planting out woody trees and shrubs which can suffer from terminal stress over summer. If in doubt, heeling the plant into well cultivated soil such as the vegetable garden over summer may be wise. You can then relocate to its permanent position when autumn arrives.
  • The really successful harvests here at the moment are the strawberries and the broad beans. Shame about the missing lettuces… Mark blames the rabbits but I think it would have helped to have planted them in the first place.
  • We make no apology for offering our annual advice to deal to convolvulus and wandering jew now. If you are not organic, Woody Weedkiller or Banvine is an effective option for the former and Shortcut, Amitrol or Grazon for the latter. Glyphosate does not touch wandering jew and is not particularly easy to use on convolvulus because it kills the host plant as well as the vine. If you are organic, you are probably going to have to hand pull these weeds and then place them in black plastic rubbish bags to cook in the sun. Every piece of wandering jew that you do not cook will grow again.
  • Our first crop of peas has now finished but if you continue to sow them, you can still get in one or two more crops before the heat of summer. Make sure your main crop potatoes are in and Mark is planting kumara runners now. It is the last chance for kumara. Yams and pumpkins should be planted by now but you can still get a crop if you plant them now. Use plants, not seed.

Beverley Nicholls (so-named before the feminisation of his Christian name) wrote in 1932: I had never “taken a cutting” before….

Do you not realize that the whole thing is miraculous? It is exactly as though you were to cut off your wife’s leg, stick it in the lawn, and be greeted on the following day by an entirely new woman, sprung from the leg, advancing across the lawn to meet you.

Writing as ones who have taken many hundreds of thousands of cuttings in our time, the magic of such activity has long ago escaped us but it would be safe to say that Mr Nicholls’ perspective is not one which has ever struck us before. However, Mark lives in hope. And a neighbour has given a new perspective on this. He put his hydrangea prunings through the mulcher, spread the mulch and now has hundreds of budding young hydrangeas in his garden. Micro propagation? Who needs to try cuttings when you have a mulcher?