July 10, 2009 In the Garden

• We returned from our UK sojourn to view the results of what Mark described as the largest frost he has not seen. Judging by the damage, it was a once in a decade frost (the renga renga lilies were burnt, for goodness sake) so Mark was relieved he had constructed a winter shroud for his precious bananas. Areas such as ours where severe frosts are rare, suffer considerably more damage from one-off events than colder places where plants are better hardened. We won’t be rushing to cut off the frost damaged foliage because this will give some measure of protection should we get another bad one.
• In the vegetable garden, you can continue planting brassicas (that is if you need more. If you have been faithfully planting them every week, you may want to take a week off lest you drown under the harvest of cabbage and cauli). For a change, you can start sowing carrots and onions. Cover carrot seed with a board or a strip of nova roof or similar to stop the fine seed from being flooded out before it germinates. We are assuming that by now all vampire repelling garlic aficionados will have planted their crops but it is not too late if you have yet to do it.
• Sow broad beans and if you have a good sheltered spot, really keen gardeners will be racing to get in the first crop of early potatoes. Make sure they are well sprouted. Peas are hardy and can be sown now. We saw crops of green peas to die for in English allotments which make our modest offerings look pathetic but picking fresh peas from the garden remains a taste treat for all, even if the peas never make it as far as the pot.
• Prune grapevines. If you are not sure how to do this, we will be featuring this in the Outdoor Classroom next week.
• Get a copper spray onto citrus trees if you have not yet done so. At the same time, you can put a protective copper clean up spray over all fruit trees if you are thorough.
• Prune, prune and prune. Roses, wisterias, hydrangeas and anything deciduous that needs a shape-up or trim back (except for cherry trees).
• If you haven’t yet done so, take off last year’s fruiting canes on raspberries and thin out the new canes so you don’t over crop. A bit of work now tying down the canes pays dividends when it comes to harvest time when rasps can put up quite a battle.