Plant now for a bumper season
November is the last month of spring and the time to plant and sow everything in the vegetable garden for a bumper summer harvest and the flower garden for a stunning display.
Some of you have already got tomatoes well on the way but for those who haven’t, now is the main planting season, so get some planted today!
If you haven’t yet planted any potatoes or want a later crop, then it’s not too late, potatoes planted now will be ready for harvest in February.
If you have potatoes growing then regular mounding needs to be maintained as this increases the length of stem covered on which the potato tubers form. A side dressing of Tui Potato Food around the plants before they are mounded will be beneficial.
It is important to start spraying your potato crop with Yates Mavrik or Yates Success Ultra to protect against potato psyllid. The potato psyllid can go undetected for a while but will later show up with plants showing a stunting and yellowing of the growing tip. The edges of the curled leaves often have a pink blush. The stem may have swollen nodes and show a browning of the vascular tissue. After a while, infected potatoes develop a scorched appearance and plants collapse prematurely. Potato plants that are infected at an early stage develop numerous small tubers.
The psyllid, a relatively new pest to New Zealand, has been devastating home garden potato crops badly in Whanganui for the past six seasons. With the use of these Yates sprays (the only registered sprays for potato pysllid) it can be effectively controlled.
Codling moth caterpillars burrow into the fruit of apples and thus make holes in them. They can also affect pears, quince, English walnuts and sometimes plums. Once inside the fruit the insect will burrow towards the pip cavity and consume the seeds.
The insect “overwinters” as a fully fed caterpillar in a silken cocoon beneath pieces of loose bark on trees or in other sheltered positions it can reach. In the late winter or early spring the overwintered caterpillars transform to pupae and the first moths generally appear during OctoberNovember and can occur into January and February. The best method for control is an integrated pest management approach. This involves using pheromone traps being hung in a tree. Closely follow the instructions given. Check weekly for population numbers caught in the trap and when larger numbers are recorded, a spray with Yates Success Ultra at this time is recommended.
November planting tips
Plant herbs and lettuce among other plants. A few lettuces planted every one or two weeks in different parts of your garden will keep you supplied most of the year. Red lettuce provides some good colour contrast as well.
This is the best month for sowing climbing and dwarf beans. The soil is now warm enough for the seeds to germinate readily and the beans take 10-12 weeks to start cropping. Yates climbing bean ‘purple king’ develops deep purple pods that turn green when they’re cooked — quite intriguing.
A top producing bean variety is in the Ican Chefs Best Range called “Supreme”; it is high yielding, with strong disease resistance, and has straight 14cm long beans set high on the plant for easy picking, distinctively glossy, very fleshy with excellent flavour. If blight has been a problem in the past on your potato and tomato crops spray regularly with Grosafe Freeflo Copper to keep a coating of copper spray on foliage.
Summer flower garden
In the summer flower garden there are many options as to what to plant at this time. Petunias are still considered the top summer annual. There are many varieties to choose but a couple of favourites include the Pepe series which produce masses of miniature flowers on compact plants and are tough and ideal for bedding borders, containers and hanging baskets. Secondly the upright and cascading groups of petunias which produce masses of flower colour all summer. They too are tough and weather resistant, but grow larger than the Pepe series.
For the best display make a habit of picking off faded flowers which will encourage more blooms. Always use slug and snail bait to prevent these nasties from having a feed and pinch out the first flowers to make the plants branch out, become more bushy.
Roses are looking spectacular at the moment with most now in flower. The Iceberg rose is still number one with its white flowers and more disease resistant habit. Iceberg is a floribunda (many blooms on each stem) and puts on a great show for a long time. Its popularity is closely followed by Margaret Merril which is also white but boasts fragrance. Feed roses now if you have not done so since they have come into growth and then again after they have finished their first flush of flowers. Use Tui Rose Fertiliser for good results. Feed roses growing in pots and containers with Osmocote for Roses or another slow release food.
Prune any roses that only bloom during spring when they have finished flowering. Other varieties that were pruned in winter can be tidied by removing any dead flowers. Always cut just above an outward facing bud so that new growth will grow away from the centre of the bush. Be especially vigilant with watering of all roses growing in containers, maybe twice daily when dry conditions prevail. A product called Saturaid can be added to potting mix and soil. Have a great week!
■ Gareth Carter is general manager of Springvale Garden Centre
Mum in a Million