In the Garden this week: November 26, 2010

· It is looking dangerously like drought territory so start battening down the hatches just in case. The word from the chief garlic grower here is to water your garlic regularly. After many years of growing it with unpredictable harvests, he has come to the conclusion that very dry conditions at this time of the year can stunt growth badly.

· If your container plants are not getting watered every day now, they will suffer. If you are getting behind, move them to a shady area near an outside tap or relocate them by your outdoor living area or doorstep where their poor, sad, droopy appearance is more likely to remind you to look after them.

· You shouldn’t put mulch on to dry gardens – it can act as a barrier to stop moisture getting in as well as out. If you were intending to mulch before summer, make it top priority this weekend but you will need to get the garden free of weeds first, then give it a really good soak (not just wetting the top surface) and then get the mulch on.

· Lift the level of your lawnmower a notch. You do not want to stress the lawn by scalping it in the dry conditions or you will lose your desirable lawn grasses and risk an invasion of hardy weeds. A reminder – deal to onehunga weed straight away and don’t let it get hold and go to seed. It is the seed that is prickly.

· At least with the sun, you can push hoe or hand pull weeds and leave them on the surface to wither and die. Just make sure that you remove any seed heads first, or you are merely sowing the next crop of weeds. It is what pockets are for (to store the seed heads) or have a bucket nearby.

· Keep up the successional sowings of corn, green beans and salad greens – a little very two weeks is the key to ensuring continued supply.

· A correction to Plant Collector from two weeks ago – the little shrub with the lilac blue pouch flowers is in fact Jovellana punctata, not Jovellana violacea. Both are from Chile but the true violacea has larger leaves and deeper coloured but smaller flowers. The friend and plantsman, who pointed out the error, also brought me a plant and flowers from violacea to compare and the differences were obvious. He has seen them growing in the wild. He was kind enough to note that it is a widespread error in this country to misname punctata which is more common here than violacea. I was, apparently, in good company with my mistake.