September 11, 2009 In the Garden

  • We are getting quite dry here although there is rain forecast. Keep an eye on container plants which can dry out while your back is turned. If you have permanent plants in tubs, troughs, containers or pots and you haven’t done anything with them for ages, get onto any repotting straight away if you want them to survive summer. Today’s Outdoor Classroom is on this topic. If you don’t plan to repot them, give them a feed.
  • It is countdown on digging and dividing clumping perennials. Most of these are in growth now and will make a speedy recovery from being divided but it is best not to delay.
  • Daphnes and luculias can be pruned now. The Himalayan Daphne bholua can get pretty scruffy and will take hard pruning but go easy on the more common odora types. A light trim or thinning is more advisable for them. Look for fresh shoots or buds on the luculias and trim back to these without delay. Dichroas (related to hydrangeas but evergreen and often with a flower for the better part of the year) can be pruned back to a pair of leaf buds.
  • If you have a glasshouse, be very cautious with its ventilation now because temperatures can soar and it would be disappointing to fry the treasures you are housing so carefully.
  • Get onto planting out annuals if you want a display in spring. Leave it any longer and they will be a summer display instead.
  • The advice in my column last week on copper sprays was not a complete veto on their use, but a warning bell on their over use. There are times copper sprays are enormously useful and one of those times is to combat leaf and fruit drop on citrus trees.
  • Wandering jew (tradescantia) is on the move. Do not let this weed get away on you. If you use sprays, Amitrol, Grazon or Tordon Gold should deal to it. Glyphosate doesn’t touch it. If you shun sprays, there is no alternative to hand pulling every last skerrick of it and putting it to rot inside a black plastic rubbish bag in the sun. Any piece you will miss will grow again.
  • If you still plan to plant fruit trees this season, stop talking about it and do it right now. Full sun is the rule for fruit trees.
  • In the vegetable garden, it is full steam ahead with pretty well everything. Hardy crops and root crops can be sown from seed directly into the garden – peas, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, lettuce, spinach and silver beet. You may want to try a late crop of broad beans sown now. Slightly more tender crops are started in pots or trays for planting out in six weeks time. These include corn, cucurbits, most beans, tomatoes and all the summer vegetable delights. In warm, protected, coastal areas or under a cloche, you can start direct sowing dwarf beans.