In the Garden: November 12, 2010

Gloves and covered footwear should always be worn when spraying

Gloves and covered footwear should always be worn when spraying

• Mark was unimpressed to see public sector employees who were not wearing protective gloves, out with knapsack sprayers recently in Waitara. As far as he is concerned, even with safer modern chemicals and modern spray units which do not leak like the old ones, gloves and covered footwear should always be worn when spraying. It is a good rule for the home gardener too.

• It is getting late for planting out woody trees and shrubs and we are into an unusually dry spell (after an unusually wet, early spring). If you are still planting, make sure you plunge the whole plant into a large container of water and hold it down until the bubbles stop rising, or leave it there for an hour so the whole root ball can get wet before planting. And be prepared to water for the next couple of months. Better practice is to heel such plants into your vegetable garden where the soil is already friable and well cultivated and plant them out to their final location in autumn. This includes fruit trees as well as ornamentals.

• Herbaceous plants (those without trunks and woody stems) are more forgiving and can be planted out at pretty well any time as long as you are willing to water for the first two or three weeks.

• The vegetable garden should be calling you. Plant everything now for summer harvest. Successional planting is what extends the season – getting repeat crops sown every couple of weeks. This works for green beans (great crop in our climate), corn, peas and all the salad greens and leafy greens. Radishes too, if you grow them – fun for children to grow because they are a quick crop but few will enjoy eating them.

• If you feel compelled to grow celery, get it in now as it needs a long growing season. We prefer Florence fennel which is easier to grow and fills a similar niche in the diet.

• Keep an eye on roses for aphid infestations. Digital control is usually all that is required if you catch them early enough (in other words, gently running your finger and thumb over the infested areas and squashing them). I have used fly spray in the past (pyrethrum) and I am told soapy water works. Get rid of any flowers or seed heads on hellebores to reduce breeding grounds for aphids.

• Winter pruning is all but over now. Spring deadheading should be happening – rhododendrons, azaleas, pieris and roses. Truly dedicated gardeners (usually those in small gardens) also deadhead perennials and annuals to extend the flowering season.

• Snip back the laterals on your grapes to prevent them breaking off in the wind and you can start summer pruning apple trees by nipping back the over long growths.