In The Garden: April

30-Mar-2018

Most plants may be safely pruned at any time of year - the determining factor for ornamentals is usually dictated by their flowering period.

Ideally, for almost all trees and shrubs grown for their blooms, pruning is best conducted during or just after flowering.

This allows the plant to develop new flowering wood to produce blooms again the following season.
Most have their main flowering during spring and early summer and means, if you are to prune these during winter, that these plants are never seen at their best.

In the case of Fruit trees and berry fruit, pruning may be carried out safely during summer and winter.

Winter is generally preferred as it is easier to see where to make any cuts.

Trees that have a likelihood of being infected with diseases are best pruned while growing as the pruning wounds begin to heal immediately, thus sealing any point of potential infection.

Apricot trees are a good example of this and summer or autumn pruning is preferable.
Prune berry fruit by removing all old canes of raspberry and bramble bushes - loosely tie new canes together for next years crop.

Hydrangeas

As soon as the blooms look a bit weathered, simply remove all thick, old branches to the ground .

If there are young, green branches growing from the bottoms of old limbs, keep them.

New canes only need to be pruned lightly, as if pruned too hard it will result in vigorous leaf growth but not many blooms.

If there is not much new growth it is better to cut every second main branch and leave the rest and then the following year it will be much easier.

Planning to plant - Planting

Soils that are cleared for spring planting and left fallow through winter can become sour and, if in a slow draining area, difficult to cultivate.

This can result in essential soil bacteria being reduced or non existent meaning a poor start to the growing season.

To help soil achieve its full growing potential, now is the perfect time to do something about it - easy and cheap with brilliant results.

Calcium in the form of lime, limestone or dolomite should applied to the surface of the soil in most parts of the garden now.

Only areas where certain plants dislike lime should be left and NOT limed.

Ornamental such as:

Azaleas, Camellias, Ericas, Rhododendrons

MOST Australian Natives.

Most important areas for applying lime is the Vegetable Garden and an annual application for Fruit trees, especially stone fruit.

Lime is not a fertiliser, but rather a means, by which certain essential elements can be made accessible to be absorbed into the plants.

In conjunction with fertilisers, Lime allows soil to break down organic matter more efficiently and plants to reach a better growth rate.

Depending on the form you use will determine how much to apply.

Dolomite is a form of limestone that contains magnesium as well as calcium and is the most valuable way to reduce acidity.

It is available to the plants slower than straight lime / limestone and is therefore safe to use with fertilisers as well as remaining in the soil longer.

Application rates will be found on product of choice.

Ornamental

Lift and divide overcrowded Lily of the Valley.

Plant spring bulbs

Native and Exotic.

    • Alyssum, Anemone/Aquilegia(Buttercup Family - Columbines), Antirrhinum(Snapdragon and their family),

    • Arctotis(Aurora Daisy, African Daisy, Shasta), Carnation, Cineraria, Cornflower,Delphinium, Dianthus,Freesia,

    • Gypsophila(Baby's breath), Hollyhock,Lobelia,Lupin,Myosotis( Forget Me Not), Nasturtium,Pansy, Penstemon,

    • Polyanthus, Poppy(Iceland ,Oriental), Ranunculus, Stock, Sweet William, Viola, Violet, Wallflower and Spring Bulbs

Edible

(e) this is the last month to plant out and achieve best results

 

(p) there will be another chance next month to get it in the ground.

 

(b) this is the beginning of the season so in general we will have a bit of time.

 

(su) start undercover in seed trays before transplanting to garden

 

(t) transplant seedlings to beds

 

  • Beans (Pole, Runner & Scarlet as well as Dwarf, French & Bush)(e),Beetroot, Broad beans(Fava Beans), Broccoli(b)(t),

  •  Cabbage (including Chinese)(su),Carrot, Cauliflower (su), Celeriac(su), Celery (su), Chicory/Witlof(b), Chives,

  • Collards(su), Coriander(b)(p), Dill(e),Fennel(p), Kale(su), Kohlrabi, Leeks(e)(t), Lettuce, Mizuna(b)(p),

  •  Mustard Greens, Onion(t), Oregano(p),Pak Choy(p), Parsley(p), Peas(b), Radish, Rocket, Shallots(Eschalots),

  • Silverbeet,Snow Peas(b), Strawberries(from seed)(su), Strawerry Plants(b)(p),

  • Swede(Rutabagas)  Turnip

If you make your own compost; start making some now.

Rough dig any vacant beds.

Well sized Brassica plants can be planted out from now.

Pumpkins

If harvested correctly will keep for a very long time.

The main point to remember is to allow them to remain on the vine as long as possible and be careful about avoiding damage from frosts.

This can be as simple as covering them each night with an old bag or a forkful of sugar cane mulch or straw.

Should you forget to cover each pumpkin and frost strikes they will only last for a few weeks.

When Harvesting

If possible leave up to 2 feet / half metre of vine still attached and take care not to snap off the main stalk.

Once the main stalk has been removed you will either need to eat it first or seal with  candelwax to prevent rotting.(ensure to wipe away any dirt first before sealing)

If newly harvested pumpkins are allowed to remain in a sunny place and covered each night, the skin will set very hard and even most slight wounds will heal up.

After about a week of this they can be stored under cover with vine still attached.

By doing this it has been possible for some pumpkins to keep for anywhere up to a year.

Strawberries

Clean up strawberry beds - cut off all large leave - plant out new runners if 2years old or less. If more than 3 years old - replace them totally.

Strawberries are very easy to grow, and will do so in a wide range of conditions from pots, hanging baskets and window boxes to beds.

They need to be watered often during summer and to get plenty of sunshine.

Now is the time to plant them - buy certified, virus free plants.

Resist the temptation to take runners from old existing clumps as there is an increased risk of disease.

Ten plants will not take up much room, and if looked after will provide ample strawberries for an average family.

 

Preparing soil for strawberry bed.

Dig carefully, try not to bring up subsoil.

Remove all perennial weeds as young strawberry plants do not like competition.

Slightly acidic soil is preferred - lime will not be required.

Plants are shallow rooted and dry out easily - ensure plenty of organic matter is added to the soil.

Soil prepared and fertilised ahead of planting is much better as soil will be settled.

Good drainage is essential - do not plant directly into a flat surface - where water may lie after wet periods - rather create ridges up to 20cm (8 inches) higher than rest of bed.

Approximately 4 metres will suffice for 10 plants.

Place plants at top of ridge - and if possible split / separate roots to sit on either side of peak.

Once planted water with diluted seaweed extract to provide trace elements.

To reduce weed competition - black plastic is very effective, however so is straw or sugar cane mulch.

Keep an eye out for slugs and snails.

If planting in pots be mindful not to let them dry out - water daily with up to half a litre of water per plant and weekly weak liquid fertiliser.

Other

Houseplants

Allow Gloxinia to dry slightly

Reduce watering as temperatures fall

Repot any rootbound plants

Roses

Still a suitable time for a foliar feed.

Should get an Autumn flush of Roses - enjoy and deadhead as the flower ages.

Prepare soil for new rose beds - Dig Deeply, apply compost and manure - turn regularly.

Lawns

Lay or sow lawns.

Lawns sown now will develop rapidly.

Some of the finer grasses will be slower to germinate.

Apply fertilisers a week or so before sowing grass seed.

Once Sown keep the seed moist until well after germination.

Citrus / Fruit

Spray peach and nectarine trees as leaves are cast to control leafcurl.

Prune all stone fruit trees as fruit is harvested.

Growing beautiful peaches and nectarines is possible and by carefully selecting suitable types we can have ripe fruit from just before Christmas until halfway through April.

The growing secret to achieve this successfully is to understand their food and water needs and to be thorough when dealing with their main disease problems such as leafcurl and brown-rot.

Mulching the trees with straw or similar during winter and summer will make a huge difference to the weight and size of the crop.

During summer spread plenty of manure on the mulch and deep water weekly over and around the roots.

If your stone fruit or apple crop is showing signs of suffering from "Bitter Pit" apply Garden Lime or dolomite to increase the Calcium uptake of the plants.

Calcium is required to strengthen the cell walls of fruit. A deficiency leads to soft fruit, poor storage, poor shelf life and bitter pit.

Bear in mind that correct Soil pH does not mean that calcium levels are high. (Planning to plant segment touches on lime and its benefits.)

Mulch all fruit trees and berry fruit plants.

 

 


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