There we were last weekend, enjoying mild temperatures, shedding layers and thinking that really our winters are not too bad at all when bingo, Monday’s cold reminded us that July is the worst month of winter.
While it is fine to plant pretty well any and all of the woody trees and shrubs, there is not a lot of point planting out vegetables, annuals or perennials. They will just sit and wait for warmer temperatures before doing much. So give your attention to fruit trees, hedges, or ornamental shrubs, both evergreen and deciduous. Always, but always, try and get the depth of the plant in the soil the same as they were wherever or however they were grown. If you plant too deeply, you risk rotting the woody trunk (collar rot, no less). With grafted plants, you also increase problems with root stock growing away in competition. If you plant them too shallow, it stresses the plant and its top roots are likely to dry out and die.
If you are looking at potato varieties, then the advice from the potato grower here is that Liseta and Jersey Benne are both good early varieties but Liseta is more reliable and a better cropper in our conditions. For main crop he recommends both Red Rascal and Agria but he was also impressed by Purple Heart last season and will grow it again. In fact he grew at least ten different varieties and kept them all separate and labelled at harvest time so we have a smorgasbord of choices for different uses. It used to be that there were new potatoes and old potatoes, depending on the time of the year, but many of us are better informed now and can see the different applications of potato types.
If you are short of fresh greens, the quickest option is bean sprouts, followed by sowing a tray of micro greens. You will need to keep the seed tray under cover but with good light – a conservatory, sunroom or porch may be suitable. Or a cloche if you have one. Establish a large enough patch of parsley for the future and it will seed down and keep you supplied.
Think pruning. Maybe do the roses and wisterias first, followed by grapevines and apple trees. Raspberries can be done any time now. The hydrangeas can wait till last without suffering. Pruning is best with sharp tools so you make clean cuts. If your secateurs are blunt, their action will be more in the nature of crushing, which is not good.. We did an Outdoor Classroom on sharpening tools last year – you will still find it on abbiejury.co.nz (click on Outdoor Classroom).
The garden pages are not awash with giveaways and freebies, apparently unlike the food pages, so I was surprised to be contacted with the offer to send me a pack of genuine, fresh, New Zealand grown cranberries. I have never tried proper cranberries, only Myrtus ugni. Now I can’t wait to try the real McCoy. It is early days for this small operation but from the West Coast, they are now getting a commercial harvest, sold under the brand of Cranberriez.