Snip away the old for spring suc­cess

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - HOME - Peter Cun­dall

THE end of this month al­ways brings in late win­ter rains. Of­ten the ground re­mains cold and sat­u­rated for weeks and some veg­eta­bles, es­pe­cially broad beans and peas, can rot in the ground.

If wa­ter can be kept mov­ing through soil, most plants are able to sur­vive even long pe­ri­ods of heavy rain­falls.

I could be wrong of course, but my prim­i­tive gar­den­ing instinct tells me we’re in for par­tic­u­larly wet con­di­tions over the next few weeks. So I’ve been busy, dig­ging drainage chan­nels around those beds at risk from over­wet con­di­tions.

Berryfruit plants such as rasp­berry, black and red currant, straw­berry, blueberry and bram­ble­ber­ries are now avail­able for im­me­di­ate plant­ing into well- ma­nured, deeply dug soil. All grow and fruit to perfection in Tas­ma­nia.

Prun­ing ex­ist­ing rasp­berry and bram­ble­berry plants is noth­ing more than cut­ting to the ground all the canes that bore fruit last sum­mer. They are eas­ily iden­ti­fied be­cause they are dead. The re­main­ing liv­ing canes can be loosely tied in bun­dles to pro­vide self-sup­port when heavy with fruit.

Prun­ing peaches, nec­tarines, apri­cots and plums can be re­stricted to re­mov­ing dead wood and all mummified, dis­ease- car­ry­ing fruit. The best time to prune most stone­fruit trees is im­me­di­ately af­ter har­vest­ing in sum­mer.

Ap­ple and pear trees can still be win­ter pruned, es­pe­cially those trained on the open-cen­tre man­age­ment sys­tem. This in­volves re­mov­ing all in­ward- grow­ing branches. Long, sky- reach­ing lead­ers are bet­ter con­trolled in spring by cut­ting them back or ty­ing them down in late Septem­ber.

Cit­rus trees, es­pe­cially old, ne­glected and highly con­gested lemon trees such as Eureka and Lis­bon may be pruned now, but only to re­move any low branches that come into con­tact with the soil. The main prun­ing of cit­rus trees is best car­ried out in Oc­to­ber if needed.

Or­na­men­tal parts of the gar­den need spe­cial treat­ment now. Weeds flour­ish de­spite the cold, but can be dealt with with­out sprays by heavy mulching.

Lawn clip­pings are too wet and sappy to be used now be­cause they be­come slimy and at­tract slugs. They are best mixed with straw, fallen leaves and com­post.

Weeds flour­ish de­spite the cold, but can be dealt with with­out sprays by heavy mulching

Thick lay­ers, spread over over­lap­ping newsprint make out­stand­ing weed- sup­press­ing mulches. Add sheep ma­nure mixed with blood and bone to cre­ate a feed­ing mulch to spread around rhodo­den­drons, aza­leas, camel­lias, pierises and other shal­low- rooted plants.

For late win­ter and spring colour, pun­nets of hardy seedlings are now on sale. They in­clude tough bloomers, such as pot marigold, prim­ula, vi­ola, pansy and stock.

Pansy seedlings grow rapidly from the end of this month to pro­duce dis­plays that can go on right through spring and most of sum­mer. The se­cret is dead- head­ing and very weak ma­nure wa­ter ap­plied ev­ery fort­night.

Most true peren­ni­als have now died back to food- swollen roots, so, apart from a bit of un­tidy dead ma­te­rial, very lit­tle is vis­i­ble above the sur­face. Other herba­ceous plants, such as lupins, fox­gloves, hol­ly­hocks, columbines and cam­pan­u­las, will be show­ing just a few mis­er­able leaves, but all are await­ing spring, ready to sprout into ac­tion.

It’s a great time to re­ju­ve­nate an old, slightly ex­hausted flower bor­der. Most of th­ese plants can be lifted and put to one side so the soil can be given a new life. Spread cow or sheep ma­nure and blood and bone over the bed, and work it in with a gar­den fork. Lupins, fox­gloves and hol­ly­hocks don’t like be­ing shifted so leave them alone and work around them. Most bulbs are al­ready com­ing into leaf so are eas­ily avoided.

Any over­crowded peren­nial clumps, mainly old del­phini­ums, herba­ceous pe­onies and Shasta daisies can be di­vided and re­planted with lots of new di­vi­sions to give away or pot up as fund- rais­ers.

When mow­ing lawns at this time of the year, al­ways use a grass catcher. Great lumps of soggy grass ly­ing over the sur­face dur­ing win­ter causes dis­fig­ur­ing yel­low blotches where sun­light is un­able to pen­e­trate.

Is there a bet­ter, more pro­duc­tive way of keep­ing warm dur­ing cold weather?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.