Well­be­ing

Janet Luke takes us around the gar­den, point­ing out what we need to do now to help en­sure a bloom­ing good sum­mer.

Element - - Contents - JANET LUKE GAR­DEN­ING

Day­light hours are get­ting longer, and there is a hint of warmth in the air. Spring is here. This time of the year can be the most un­pre­dictable though, with driv­ing rain and frosts one day and hot sunny days the next.

It is a great time to get sum­mer seeds sown, and while some ar­eas may be still be too cold to plant di­rectly into the gar­den, it is a per­fect time to get seedlings es­tab­lished in pots on a sunny win­dow sill or green­house – if you are lucky enough to have one.

Re­mem­ber that when rais­ing plants from seeds, the big­gest er­ror is plant­ing them too deeply in the soil. A good rule of thumb is to cover with soil to a depth of the seeds’ width. With tiny seeds you need only sprin­kle some fine soil over the top and press down. Keep the soil damp, but not sod­den. I cover my trays with a pane of glass to keep the heat and mois­ture in. You could try us­ing clear wrap from the kitchen if your pot­ting shed is your win­dow sill.

It is also a great time to make liq­uid ma­nure. This can be sprin­kled over pot plants and gar­den plants as an in­stant en­ergy boost. A good tip is to visit your lo­cal beach after a good storm and col­lect a sack of seaweed. Back home, place this in a large drum or bucket, cover with wa­ter, and then se­cure your ‘witches’ brew’ with a lid. Some peo­ple ad­vise wash­ing the seaweed first, but I never do.

After a cou­ple of weeks you will have a won­der­ful liq­uid seaweed ma­nure to treat your plants. Di­lute the mix­ture in a wa­ter­ing can with tap wa­ter so it looks like weak tea. Sprin­kle over the fo­liage of your plants to pro­duce some quick healthy growth.

Ur­ban or­chard

Your peach and other stone fruit trees will have likely burst into blos­som by now. It is im­por­tant at this time to en­cour­age pol­li­na­tors onto the blos­som. If there are not a lot of bees around you can try at­tract­ing them by spray­ing a white sugar and wa­ter so­lu­tion onto the blos­som. Do not use honey as this can spread dis­eases to bees.

Peach leaf curl is a dis­ease caused by a fun­gus called Taph­rina de­for­mans. It can af­fect blos­soms, fruit, leaves and young shoots of peaches, or­na­men­tal flow­er­ing peaches, and nec­tarines.

It is a very common dis­ease that back­yard gar­den­ers have to con­tend with. The most ob­vi­ous symp­toms are dis­torted, twisted and red young leaves in spring. A spray with ei­ther cop­per or lime is the best treat­ment, but tim­ing is ev­ery­thing.

Spray­ing in early win­ter, when the tree has lost all its leaves, and then again just be­fore the buds start swelling, get­ting ready to open with blos­som, in early spring.

Cit­rus trees need a good feed now. They are ‘gross feed­ers’ (that sounds like my fam­ily around the ta­ble). But it means they need reg­u­lar and gen­er­ous feed­ing through­out the year. Spread some com­post, aged an­i­mal ma­nure or even your spent seaweed from your liq­uid fer­tiliser around their base.

Re­mem­ber that when rais­ing plants from seeds, the big­gest er­ror is plant­ing them too deeply in the soil. A good rule of thumb is to cover with soil to a depth of the seeds’ width.

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