Plenty of pruning tasks awaiting
PRUNE YOUR CURRANTS & TAKE CUTTINGS
Now’s the time for pruning redcurrants. Treat them as you would an apple tree and reduce the length of the new growth by about half. Make your pruning cut just above an outward-facing bud to encourage the bush to grow in an open manner, rather than develop a tangled form. Take your prunings and push them cut-end-first, into some good soil in your garden.
In the spring, you’ll be able to dig them up, newly-formed roots and all, and start some new bushes elsewhere. Blackcurrants can be pruned now too, although they require a slightly different approach. Prune your blackcurrant bushes for greater light and space, by taking out older, tired wood and encourage new growth to develop. Any healthy tips can be pushed into the soil in the same way as your redcurrant tips were, and new blackcurrant bushes will result, if you are patient.
PLANT TREES TO FEED BIRDS IN WINTER
I’m not a big fan of commercial feeding stations. I prefer to grow winter bird food in-situ, that is, have live trees and shrubs provide winter nourishment for birds naturally and without the need for equipment. Apples are a great source of energy for many birds over the cold months and all that is required to provide those sweet fruits for the bellbirds, blackbirds, waxeyes and thrushes,
is to grow varieties that are lateproducers, such as the pearmain family and any of the crabapples. Just leave the fruit on the tree, unpicked. The birds will gradually take what they need until there is nothing left. There are several native trees that produce seed right now that is popular with birds such as tui and bellbirds. The panax and pseudopanax families have their tiny flat fruits available for browsing at this time of the year and are much loved by our native birds.
By planting these trees with cold winters and hungry birds in mind, you can provide nourishment for them without having to remember
to do anything at all but sit and enjoy the show.
SPREAD WOOD ASH AROUND YOUR GARDEN
If you missed celebrating midwinter’s shortest day and longest night with a traditional bonfire, it’s not too late to have a little blaze to celebrate the turning of the seasonal tide. The days are becoming longer, gradually, and the nights shorter.
If you did enjoy a fire on the night of June 21 and the ashes from that wood are still where they were formed, scoop them up and spread them around your garden. Wood ash doesn’t keep its nutrient value very long, as the best bits are water soluble and soon wash away if left sitting. The ashes from your indoor wood fire, too, are valuable as plant food, providing you are burning only clean, natural wood. Coal’s a no-no, as is kitchen rubbish that should have gone into the recycling bin, not the fireplace.
PLAN WINTER PRUNING
Have a good look around your orchard now and plan for next month’s pruning. This year, the leaves have fallen early which is very different from last year when they seemed not to be wanting to let go at all. With branches bare, crossed branches, broken limbs and other sources of misshape can be seen easily. Those need to be remedied, but not just yet. Hold off using the pruning saw and secateurs for a few weeks more but while you wait, familiarise yourself with what needs to be done. Check your tools for sharpness, and make sure you have fresh pruning paste at hand.
This column is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get growing, from New Zealand Gardener magazine. For gardening advice delivered to your inbox every Friday, sign up for Get Growing at: getgrowing.co.nz