Plant out, now frosts are fin­ished

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By WALLY RICHARDS

Labour Week­end was the big gar­den­ing event of the year and with the weather be­ing favourable re­cently with a mix of rain and sun, let’s hope sim­i­lar con­di­tions con­tinue into Novem­ber.

A ‘‘big push’’ over the long week­end is be­cause, his­tor­i­cally, there is only a small like­li­hood of frosts be­tween now and Christ­mas.

Frost-ten­der plants such as toma­toes, pump­kins, cap­sicums, im­pa­tiens and such can be planted out from now, and with any luck will not be harmed by a late frost.

Mow­ing is a good way to start any gar­den­ing rit­ual. A freshly mown lawn trans­forms the out­doors from shabby to promis­ing and pro­vides a nice pile of lawn clip­pings that can be used later on as a mulch – but not if you have ap­plied a lawn her­bi­cide to your lawns in the past 18 months.

Lawn weed killers that kill weeds but not the grasses don’t just dis­ap­pear overnight.

A common one such as Tur­fix can have residues for about six months.

You do not want to put com­post made from her­bi­cide-af­fected lawn clip­pings around your roses and toma­toes.

Chem­i­cal-free weed­ing

A weed-eater fit­ted with a disk at­tach­ment elim­i­nates those dread­ful spools of trim­ming line that makes weed-eat­ing such a frus­trat­ing chore.

The at­tach­ment has four eas­ily threaded pre­mium re­place­ment line slots re­sult­ing in eight swiv­elled cut­ting lines about 12cm long. Be­cause the lines fold away when a solid ob­ject is en­coun­tered, they do far less dam­age to trunks of shrubs and trees and last much longer than those frus­trat­ing stan­dard trim­ming lines.

Hand weed­ing

Small weeds re­cently ger­mi­nated and up to a few cen­time­tres in height can be cut off just be­low ground level with a sharp carv­ing knife or by scrap­ing the knife across the soil sur­face.

Larger weeds can also be treated in the same way by cut­ting through the root sys­tem a cou­ple of cen­time­tres be­low the soil sur­face.

Leave the cut weeds ly­ing on the soil, where in sun­light and with mi­cro­bial ac­tion they will break down quickly, feed­ing the soil life.

When hand-wa­ter­ing with a wand, wet down the soil and pull out weeds grow­ing be­tween plants as you go. Weeds come away more eas­ily in wet soil. Wash the soil off the roots and lay the up­rooted weeds on the soil to break down.

This way, daily wa­ter­ing keeps raised gar­dens and con­tain­ers moist and pro­gres­sively weed free.

Weed ‘‘a-salt’’

In cob­bled ar­eas where there are cracks or waste ar­eas, use salt.

Salt can be used to kill wan­der­ing jew in ar­eas with es­tab­lished trees and shrubs.

Also, I am told, sprays of bak­ing soda (likely at rates of 3 ta­ble­spoons per litre of wa­ter) will also kill wan­der­ing jew.

Gorse can be killed over time with heavy ap­pli­ca­tions of gar­den lime.

Vine­gar and cook­ing oil can also be used to spray weeds safely.

Tips for grafted fruit trees

For those who have re­cently bought triple-grafted fruit trees, it can be dif­fi­cult in the early days of es­tab­lish­ment to have all three grafts grow with the same vigour. Of­ten one of two will leap ahead to the detri­ment of the other which may re­main stunted or even die.

The se­cret is to keep all grow­ing at the same rate till they are well de­vel­oped.

If you cut back the dom­i­nant branches they will just re-branch and be­come more vig­or­ous.

The key is to in­crease the growth of the in­fe­rior branch and a sim­ple way to achieve this is to spray the lag­ging branch only, with Va­por­gard.

This will al­low the leaves to gather more en­ergy from the sun and be­come stronger.

Another method is to re­move a few leaves off the dom­i­nant branches, re­duc­ing their en­ergy col­lec­tion from sun­light.

Plant­ing out point­ers

If you bought pun­nets, cell packs and pots of plants for plant­ing out, give them a great hand to es­tab­lish by spray­ing the fo­liage all over with Va­por­gard. Then leave for a few hours to dry in a shaded spot.

This re­duces mois­ture loss and takes the stress out of the trans­plant­ing.

Then soak the con­tainer by plung­ing into a bucket of nonchlo­ri­nated wa­ter till it stops bub­bling.

This pre­vents dam­age to the root sys­tem when re­mov­ing from the con­tainer.

Place some Rok Solid, Neem Gran­ules and a few sheep ma­nure pel­lets into the bot­tom of the plant­ing hole.

This will help root de­vel­op­ment and pro­tect roots from soil in­sect pests as well as feed the plant.

Photo: MUR­RAY WILSON

Grow­ing strong: Wally Richards in his gar­den.

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