In the Garden this week: November 19, 2010

• Get swan plants in without delay, especially if you are sowing seed. Ideally you want the plants to be growing strongly before the influx of summer monarchs appear, laying eggs which hatch into very hungry caterpillars. This may mean covering them at some stage or culling early eggs.
• In our climate, both potatoes and tomatoes generally need regular sprays with copper to keep blights at bay. If you don’t, you risk losing the plants. An application every few weeks is recommended, especially after rain. Warmth and humidity can lead to an explosion of fungal ailments.
• Do not delay on dealing to onehunga weed in lawns. This prickly weed can make life miserable for children in summer and if left unchecked, will spread alarmingly. The recommended treatment appears to be Prickle Weed Killer and I am told that if you spray now and again in February or March, you can pretty well eliminate the problem. This is not organic and we don’t know of any organic alternative, short of getting on your hands and knees and weeding the lawn.
• It is still fertilising time. With most plants in full growth, their ability to draw up the fertiliser and gain maximum benefit is at its peak. Cheap and cheerful fertilisers like our locally made Bioboost, blood and bone or nitrophoska blue are all that are needed for the garden, along with compost.
• Top priority for planting out in the vegetable garden are the crops that need a long growing season – the aubergines, melons, tomatoes, capsicums, chilli peppers, cucumbers, kumara and pumpkins.
• Keep planting salad vegetables for continued supply.
• Most of the root crops can be planted now – carrots, parsnips, potatoes, beetroot, yams and kumara.
• Plant leeks now if you want big ones to harvest next winter.