After a slight delay, Kings Seeds new catalogue is now officially available. This is simply the most mouthwatering line-up of seed choices from stock standard varieties, through gourmet vegetables, exotic crops, green crops, pretty annuals and even some perennials. You can send $7.50 to Kings Seeds, PO Box 283, Katikati 3166, Bay of Plenty, check them out on line at www.kingsseeds.co.nz or get your copy from Fairfields Garden Centre in New Plymouth. If you are not used to growing plants from seed, don’t get too carried away with your first order – half a dozen different packets is quite enough for most novices to cope with.
Further to the avocado recommendation last week, buy Hass (or Reed as second option) and plant immediately. Avocados are particularly vulnerable to root disease and strongly object to any mishandling. They are not a plant to keep hanging around in a bag or pot waiting for you to find a spot in the garden.
The fine, frosty weather this week has been ideal for getting out and pruning. Next week’s Outdoor Classroom will be on heavy pruning of elderly apple trees, which is happening here this week. Pruning can continue on roses, wisterias, hydrangeas, raspberries and most other trees and shrubs (except cherries).
If you plan to do major pruning to renovate rhododendrons, you can start that now so that they will push out new growth as soon as temperatures start to rise soon. You will be sacrificing the flowers but some of them flower so late that pruning after flowering is risky. Pruning rhododendrons back to bare wood (the stump) is kill or cure. If the plant is weak in the roots, it will die but vigorous plants will usually push our fresh growths and you will get a compact bush again. If you don’t wish to be so drastic, taking out the dead wood and tidying up will help the look but it will not force a leggy plant to put out fresh foliage from the base.
Summer flowering lilies have a fairly short dormant period so if you planned to dig any clumps, get onto the task now.
If you are heartily sick of planting brassicas, you can at least be sowing carrots, onions, peas and broad beans – all done from seed. In frost free areas, the first crop of early potatoes can go in.