In the garden this week January 15, 2010

  • Mark is keeping an eagle eye out for the nasty potato and tomato psyllid which has made an unwelcome arrival in this country. A call from a Central Taranaki gardener describing psyllid-like symptoms had him searching the internet for additional information. The psyllid is a bit like a white fly but it will destroy crops if left untreated. It injects a bacteria into the plant in the process of sucking the sap and that bacteria weakens the host. Alas it has been found already in Taranaki. If your potatoes or tomatoes have symptoms which don’t look quite right for standard blight, seek out additional advice. All garden centres have apparently been circulated with information on this pest from Crop and Food. It appears that the psyllid may be easier to control than whitefly and can be treated with a pyrethrum but early action is essential. Plants can grow out of it if you get onto it early enough.
  • It is time to get a summer copper spray onto citrus trees. Whilst mostly easy care, the occasional preventative spray on these can pay dividends in avoiding premature fruit drop.
  • Winter firewood needs to be felled without delay if it is to dry in time. This is by way of motivating you to get out and prune your cherry trees now. Cherry wood burns well.
  • Now is also a good time to get out and carry out summer pruning and limbing up on evergreen trees and shrubs. Cleaning out the accumulated debris from dense conifers can reduce the habitat for slugs and snails and keep the plant in a healthier state with better air movement.
  • • Do not let your vegetable garden dry out. Most vegetables put on a great deal of rapid growth and adequate moisture is essential to sustain that.
  • Keep mounding up the earth around potatoes. This protects the tubers from the sun which is what turns them green and there is a school of thought that says it leads to a heavier crop but we have not seen proof of this.
  • Continue planting successional salad vegetables, green leafy veg, corn, beetroot and dwarf beans.
  • The article on the food pages on Tuesday listing edible flowers missed out courgette flowers (divine stuffed with a ricotta mixture – pumpkin flowers can also be used) and day lilies. If you don’t mid sacrificing the flowers, day lily buds are surprising tasty and can be a good addition to salads.