Garden lore

“My garden, that skirted the avenue of the Manse, was of precisely the right extent. An hour or two of morning labour was all that it required. But I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of, who had never taken part in the process of creation.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from an Old Manse (1846).

002 - CopyAutumn planting

Autumn is the best planting time. That is not garden industry hype to encourage sales. It is simple fact, though often ignored by gardeners who only get inspired in spring and therefore drive peak sales at that time of the year. When you autumn-plant trees and shrubs, which includes all hedges, roses and fruit trees, they have time to establish their root systems during late autumn and winter before all their energy goes in to spring growth and flowering. This makes them much better placed to withstand the stress of subsequent summer heat and possible drought.

We are still very dry for this time of the year but there is much less evaporation happening as temperatures have cooled. Make sure you soak the root balls of the plants thoroughly before planting. This is best done by plunging the entire plant, pot or bag and all, into a bucket or tub of water and leave it there until the bubbles stop rising. This can take at least 20 minutes. If your soils are still bone dry, place the plant in the hole and then fill it up with water before you back fill the soil. With the light rains we are getting, this is probably enough to keep the plant moist without additional watering, until wetter times return.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.