In the Garden: May 28, 2010

The banana crop this year was particularly disappointing. Mark took the teasing in good heart and blames a few severe frosts last year at a time when we were overseas

• It is time to batten down the hatches for winter. If you have frost tender plants you need to get under cover, don’t delay. Mark spent the better part of the weekend building a Rolls Royce protective shield for his fruiting bananas, so determined is he to get a good crop through next summer. Reduce watering of house plants and move sensitive plants off window sills. Never let them sit in water (the fastest killer of African violets) and remove saucers from beneath outdoor container plants.
• Valiantly eating my way, mostly singlehandedly, through the feijoa crop, I can report that the fruit from the old fashioned Coolidgei is a great deal tastier than the more common Unique. As the fruiting season finishes, you can get in and do any pruning you think is required. This is an optional activity but I did notice in our Urenui days that the row of four very large plants on our boundary which were mostly shaped to a single leader with a canopy made gathering the fruit a great deal easier than our current bushier plants. If you only get pathetic little fruit, you probably have seedling grown hedging. You will need to buy a named variety if you want good sized fruit in the future. To extend the harvesting season, you will need to plant early, mid and late fruiting varieties – check for recommendations. Most named varieties are self fertile.
• Mark is pleased to still be harvesting fresh corn and green beans. It has been a bit of a close-run thing on whether the last sowings will get through in time but there is no doubt that you can extend the season by successional plantings. We would be harvesting yams at this time, had they been planted last spring.
• Think garlic and shallot planting for the veg garden along with broad beans. It is the optimum time for all three crops. Garlic and shallots like really well cultivated and enriched soil but incorporate any animal manure and compost a few weeks in advance of planting to give it a chance to settle and mellow.
• Generally speaking, the next major planting push in the veg garden will not happen until August when temperatures start to rise again. Wise gardeners will try and keep weeds under control in the interim but you have basically left it too late for sowing green crops.
• Queen’s Birthday weekend is coming up soon – this is traditionally rose buying time when garden centres take delivery of new season’s crops. The timing of rose pruning is flexible. While gardeners in colder spots will want to delay pruning until later in winter, in warmer areas it is fine to prune any time from now through to the end of August.