In the garden this week: April 9, 2010

  • Autumn is well and truly here so the summer hiatus in the ornamental garden is over. This is a splendid gardening month. Our temperatures should stay mild well into May so there is some time left in the growing season for plants to settle in. It is a better planting time, as used to be traditional, than in the spring because the plants can establish themselves and prepare to put on a show as soon as the weather warms after winter. Spring is the planting time for very cold climates and none of Taranaki ranks as very cold by international standards.
  • If you have been intending to plant a few fruit trees or even an entire home orchard, get out to the garden centres now and see if they have the plants you want in stock yet. However, don’t be like Mark who has already purchased many fruit trees and bushes in anticipation of his new orchard but alas the space has not yet been made available as there is still the remnants of a nursery in it.
  • Make sure you buy grafted or budded walnut trees and avocados. Seedlings are a waste of time and space. Walnuts are by far the most widely successful nut in our climate. If you want to try macadamias, keep to grafted named varieties and remember they come from warmer climes so you have to live in our temperate coastal strip and to give the trees maximum warmth and shelter. Walnuts are a great deal hardier and easier to get out of the shell for the home gardener.
  • Plant hedges. Plant trees. Plant shrubs. Plant bulbs. Don’t forget the anemones, ranunculus and tulips you may have chilling in the fridge.
  • Divide clumping perennials without delay. They will settle in nicely and start re-establishing themselves so as to reward you earlier in spring and summer.
  • Don’t delay on sowing new lawns or over sowing bare patches in existing lawns. The grass needs to germinate and get established before growth slows down in winter.

Plant peas now in the hope of a super crop later

  • Continue with the autumn feeding round on ornamentals but get this done as soon as possible so the plants have a chance to take it up into their systems. Slow release fertilisers are designed for container plants not for general garden use and they are a great deal more expensive. Keep to the cheaper all purpose fertilisers for spreading on lawns and gardens – blood and bone, nitrophoska blue and Bioboost types. Good compost is also nutritious.
  • You can sow peas now for a change from brassicas and green leafy veg. Continue the autumn clean up in the vegetable garden, removing all diseased foliage from the site to break the cycle of re-infection. Sow down bare areas in a green crop. If you just leave it, the weeds will make a green crop but you are building a major problem for next summer when the weed seeds in the soil will explode exponentially.