Gardening in North Otago 1st December 2017

North Otago is very dry while I write this – rain clouds gather, but come to nothing. I do hope our quota of rain was not a part of what fell in Central last week! How devastating for all that fruit growing region…
Cleanup here after all the hedge trimming has been ongoing – looks a little too neat and tidy, but nature will do it’s best to put that right!
I know you will be finding there is so much to be cut back in the garden – plants like Tree Peony which doubles in size each growing season and deciduous trees that persist in pushing out new growth wide and low – you be in charge as nature will always want to push new growth out as far as the roots spread. I have been removing low branches from Oak, Prunus, Ash, Sorbus, Maples and Walnut to allow light onto gardens.
Dead – heading of Roses is here again. Cut back to an outward facing bud on a strong lower section of the branch, to encourage new budding and flowering. Feed & water often to help keep them free of disease.
Begonias are really pushing through now & I see that I have lost a few of what were left in the ground from last year. I am guessing all the rain has rotted them. Fish fertiliser well keeps Begonias happy..
Fuchsias and Hydrangeas are making a lot of growth now – a must for a Summer flower garden and so many different varieties to choose from now. Both Fuchsias and Hydrangeas prefer shade and will brighten a dull garden.
Tip cuttings from Hebes, Chrysanthemums and Daisy bushes will root with no trouble now. A firm stem with budding new growth and some larger leaves removed. Use wet crusher dust or river sand to strike them – never beach sand.
If you are looking for something non invasive to make a show of colour against a wall, why not try Abutilon (Chinese lantern ) – it comes in a number of strong shades of yellow, orange, burgundy and red, as well as white. I have planted yellow, burgundy and white together in a large container with nice lime green grasses below them. Being a rather spindly plant wanting to grow tall ,they can be spread out on wires. If trained against a wall, leave some longer branches and shorten back others to get a good cover of flowers. I remove leaves that flowers want to hide behind.
What a wonderful addition to the flower garden Peony Roses are. They are fantastic this year – or am I just seeing more in peoples gardens? The brilliant shades and very large blooms fill many vases I am sure. Remove seed pods once blooms have finished, to stop plants putting too much effort into making seed.
Lawns: We need rain to get the fertiliser on!! Lawns get really stressed from now on as the heat of the day intensifies. If your lawns are inclined to crack when dry, they have probably been planted on clay soil. Apply gypsum ( soluble lime) and water in. After a couple of years of doing this, your lawns will have a spring back in them.
If lawn weeds are a problem, spray before cutting on a sunny day when weeds are thirsty, or remove flat weeds with a knife when noticed. I spot spray with lawn weed spray, because I don’t want to upset the balance of the work going on in the soil beneath the lawn, by contaminating it with chemicals.
Vegetables: Perfect weather for vegetables and fruit this year – keep the hoe going because the weeds are doing well also. The days are warm and the nights a little cooler – just right for growing. Still no white butterflies in our garden! Long may it last…
Tomatoes: Cool nights upset Tomato plants. Leaves can become bluish and tend to curl, causing plants to become susceptible to blight. Glass and tunnel houses need good ventilation. Bee loving plants among Tomato plants will encourage insects needed for pollination – one Mignonette plant would do the job.
Fruit: Strawberries, Raspberries and all other berries need a lot of water as they plump up. Strawberry plants need food as well as water to keep them producing. I am using worm and Comfrey tea – plus I have spread some more pig manure around. Gooseberries are ready to pick, Black Currants are plentiful on branches ready to ripen. Blueberries need mulched to keep shallow Blueberry roots moist. Supply 1 -2 inches of water per week and protect all berries from birds scoffing the lot… Cheers, Linda.

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