In the garden 11/12/2009

  • The advice on care for cut Christmas trees from the good folk at Cedar Lodge (they who know more on this topic than anybody else around) is that the critical issue is to re-cut the main stem of the tree when you get it home and plunge it immediately into a bucket of cold water. This fresh cut enables the plant to keep sucking up water which is what extends its life. You will need a hand saw of some description to carry this out. Keep topping up the water every few days but the advice that circulates from other quarters about sealing the cut in boiling water, adding sugar or aspirins is unnecessary and unlikely to add to the longevity of your cut tree. A tablespoon of bleach should stop the water from going stagnant.
  • Should you be hoping to impress the whanau or extended family who are gathering at your place for Christmas Day, start this weekend instead of expecting to do it all on Christmas Eve. If your lawns are looking long and tatty, mow them now so that they will just need light trimming before the day. This avoids having too much mown grass sitting turning brown and sticking to everybody’s shoes. Deal to weeds in pavers and concrete cracks (boiling water works a treat), give hedges a light trim and use the spade to cut a neat edge along garden beds. Even if you are not up to weeding, these few actions will make a big difference to making your outdoors look better cared for.
  • If you have the yellow Primula helodoxa planted alongside a waterway in your garden, deadheading it is the action of a responsible gardener. It can be a bit of a problem plant with its seeding ways.
  • Citrus trees will benefit from a spray of copper and summer strength oil at this time of the year. It can help prevent the fruit rotting and falling off the tree prematurely.
  • Pinch out the laterals on your tomatoes. These are the vigorous side growths which will make the plant too dense. If you can keep the plant open with good air movement, you stand a better chance of ripening the fruit and keeping fungal diseases at bay.
  • You can still plant tomatoes and cucumbers at this time for a late crop but you need to use plants, not seed, to get a jump start. However, corn, lettuce, leeks, carrots and green beans can all be direct sown into the garden by seed.
  • If you are into Christmas shopping from the computer screen, you may like to look at www.touchwoodbooks.co.nz for the best collection of garden and lifestyle books in the country (and a very efficient mail order service). Or www.italianseedspronto.co.nz are offering both interesting vegetable seed and the safe option of gift vouchers as on line purchases.

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