Gardening Articles for week ending 3rd May 2008
by Wally Richards
Time flies faster
these days than it ever did when I was young; now its May already with only a
few more weeks till the shortest day and the beginning of a new gardening year.
is the time to preserve and protect what we have in our gardens so that all will
be in good stead for the new gardening year.
The extended mild weather that
most of the country has been privileged with, has kept things in the garden going
longer than normal, with only the every shortening of daylight hours making the
gradual seasonal changes.
I note with interest that my deciduous fruit trees
and roses are still fairly much in full leaf, not having a cold snap to change
them into their autumn colours.
This raises an interesting point in my mind
in that having nice green leaves on my deciduous fruit trees, so much longer than
normal, gathering energy from the sunlight, will this mean better crops in the
It will be interesting to see but as the same plants
do enjoy a rest, so a good hard cold snap is needed to put them into dormancy
even if it is only for a short time.
On Anzac day I was able to spare a bit
of time to winter proof my gardens and plants in anticipation of a cold snap and
The first aspect was out with the potash and magnesium (Fruit
and Flower Power) to give a liberal dosage to the garden plots and fruit trees,
especially the citrus.
Winter chills tend to lock up some elements in the soil
if there is insufficient amounts of them available to plants. Magnesium is vital
to maintain green foliage and that is the reason for applications of the element
at this time.
Potash (sulphate of potassium) hardens up plant growth giving
the plants the natural protection they need against the cold, frosts and drought
A sprinkling of these two elements into the root zone or drip line
of your plants should be applied now with a further dose in about a months time.
protection for areas that have frosts normally in winter and even for those gardeners
that are frost free, there is still the chilling of winter winds that make life
unpleasant for our plants.
Each winter I wrap up my more tender plants in a
natural film of Vaporgard which gives them initial frost protection down to minus
3 degrees for a period of about 3 months from one application.
The film is
slowly broken down my UV over the following months.
There are several advantages
in having this film placed over the foliage of garden plants.
The film acts
as a sunscreen against UV allowing the chlorophyll to work to maximum producing
energy from sunlight for the plants needs.
The chlorophyll build-up makes
the leaf a more efficient food factory producing more carbohydrates, especially
glycols giving stress protection from moisture loss and extra fuel for better
growth and faster maturity.
The glycols are like the anti-freeze we place in
our cars radiators and hence the plant produces its own anti-freeze system.
This works very well on tender plants such as tamarillo when there is an occasional
frost every so often. If there is a series of frosts night after night, then the
plant cells do not have time to recover from the previous frost and damage will
occur. Frost damage will be seen by the leaves going black as the cells in the
leaves have frozen and not recovered.
When it appears that there are going
to be two or more frosts in a row additional protection is needed in the form
of Frost Cloth or other insulating materials such as newspaper and sacks.
frost protecting spray film has another advantage in that if you spray under and
over the foliage you reduce the amount of moisture loss (transpiration) which
means that the water requirements of the plant reduces by about 30%. This advantage
can be used at this time of the year on evergreen plants or shrubs that you need
to move from their present location. Simply spray the foliage, under and over
with Vaporgard, wait about 3 days for the full effect to kick in, then lift the
plant and move it too its new location. Winter is by far the best time to relocate
plants as there is less stress on them and they have right through till next summer
Deciduous trees should also be moved or new ones plants during
the next month or two while they are dormant.
The sprayed on film smothers
any insect pests that may be still present on the foliage of plants treated, giving
you the advantage of cleaning up pest insects such as scale, thrips, aphids etc.
film can also be used to protect a plants leaves from leaf diseases such
as black spot, mildew and rusts.
Gardeners that have stored produce such as
potatoes, kumara and pumpkins should check the produce every few weeks for rots.
Also beware of those little mammals on four feet called mice and rats as they
can get into your pumpkins and ruin them.
Weeds are much easier to control
in winter and there are several less harmful ways to eliminate them when compared
to using a harmful chemical herbicide.
The best way is to cut them off just
below ground level with a sharp knife and leave the foliage on the top of the
soil to be broken down naturally. Don't leave foliage that has produced seeds
as these will only appear as many more weeds in the spring.
Sprays of vinegar
or cooking oil used on a sunny day will dehydrate the foliage of the target plants.
can be applied to weeds in cobbles or areas where you are not concerned about
other plants growing for a period of time.
In those areas where you do want
other plants to grow apply sulphate of ammonia directly to the weeds foliage
when the foliage is dry. If there are taller weeds then these need to be cut down
low before applying. The sulphate of ammonia burns the foliage and crown of the
weed and being nitrogen dissipates fairly quickly without leaving any longer term
residue as will the salt.
This treatment (sulphate of ammonia) can be applied
to weeds in the lawn also and if any grasses nearby get burnt they should recover.
can still be de-thatched with Thatch Busta at this time but do so soon as the
results will take longer as the cold creeps in.
Clean up grass grubs and porina
in you lawn areas with the new natural control of Professor Macs 3 in one for
Over the next few months you can get organised for your vegetable gardens
in the spring.
Give a thought to making some raised gardens for vegetables,
they are easy to work and produce some great produce if done correctly.
ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
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