August 21, 2009 In the Garden

  • What a difference some glorious early spring weather makes. The worst of winter is indubitably over and we can celebrate rising temperatures and longer days, safe in the knowledge that our winters are very short by international standards. But do not be lulled into thinking summer is just around the corner. We can and will get relapses to cold and dreary weather.
  • But it is countdown now and the pressure is mounting in the ornamental garden and as far as the winter pruning goes. If you have been planning on moving any established trees or shrubs, stop procrastinating and get on to it as soon as possible. It can be very stressful for the plant and you want to give them time to settle in to their new location. Move as large a root ball as possible and prune back the top structure to reduce stress levels.
  • You have not run out of time yet for safe planting out of trees and shrubs generally, but the sooner you can get it done the better. If you garden on sandy or light soils near the coast, you will dry out quickly as spring advances.
  • Kiwifruit should have been pruned by now. Select out last summer’s long canes to be the fruiting wood for the coming season. Cut out all the weak and old growths and confine the plant to a limited number of strong fresh canes. It is usual to tie these down to a wire or similar support. The same pruning principles apply to raspberries, which should also have been pruned but your top priority should be grapevines if you have not yet done them. The bleed and leak badly if you prune them once the sap has started moving again – which it will be doing soon.
  • Get right onto digging in green crops to the vegetable garden so they have time to break down and start decomposing before you embark on the big planting for summer harvests. If you let your vegetable garden go over winter, you can dig all the weeds in as a green crop but take the time to go round first with a bucket and remove seedheads. The leaves and roots will rot down and add goodness to the soil but the seeds won’t and you will be encouraging a harvest of them if you fail to remove them.
  • You can be sowing carrots, peas, summer spinach, onions and broad beans directly into the garden at this time. Give the onions and garlic top priority in planting. New potatoes can be planted safely.