It’s May! What shall I do?

As winter draws closer you may start to think about winding down but there is still heaps to do to make your garden winter ready.

1. Have you sprayed your stonefruit yet? I had lots of people last Spring asking me why their peach and nectarine trees had ugly red curly leaves and peach leaf curl is the answer. Spray after leaf fall with a copper spray to beat this nasty fungus – yes you spray the branches and trunk as this is where the fungus over winters. Then spray at leaf bud in spring if you had a nasty infection previously.

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http://www.waimeanurseries.co.nz/how-to-guide/how-to-grow/control-pests-and-diseases/

2. Get your soil in good condition! Healthy soil = Healthy plants. But what does healthy soil look like? Well its a lot more complicated than you’d think but generally speaking we have a lot of clay in the area. Which is great as it holds on to lots of nutrients and water – a lot of water. It can compact easy suffocating roots and in summer dry hard, withholding those nutrients and water from your poor plants. Not so great really. But if you condition the soil with well rotted manure, pelleted manure and compost the structure of your soil begins to change. You can also add gypsum or lime or dolomite which help break down the clay. With your soil structure improved plants find it easier to get their roots in, take up water, nutrients become available to them and in return they will grow. In conclusion this is much more important than ritual feeding.

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3. Leaves everywhere! You may think of leaves as an inconvenience, but here at the garden centre we are hurriedly running around collecting them like gold. Which they are, gold for your compost. Nature feeds itself and this is how it does it by dropping their leaves full of nutrients and creating their own mulch. Leaf mulch is some of the richest compost you can make. So quickly get those leaves put them in your compost or put them in hessian sacks to leave them to rot down. Then in Autumn, follow natures cue and give everything a good mulch of compost. Deciduous trees put on 80% of their root growth in Autumn, this is why its such a good time to plant them.

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4. Winter veggie seedlings are still fine to plant now, the soils are still warm and plantable. We have broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, silverbeet, brussel sprouts, broad beans, pak choi, wong bok and spring onions. All of these can go into the veggie garden for an early harvest in spring. Unfortunately unless you have a consistently warm garden bed, or a warm seed tray in the greenhouse or indoors, it will be very difficult to grow seeds until Spring.

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5. We’ve already posted about planting garlic. So go out and plant it already!

6. Divide perennials. If you have a favorite perennial that’s getting unruly, chop it in half and get two! Carefully dig it up, put two forks it the middle and gently tease it apart. Then plant and water in, easy as that. One of the reasons I love perennials.

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7. Make sure you pick up those rose leaves, because more likely than not they are harboring disease and pests and don’t put them in your compost heap unless you want to spread disease.

8. As it gets colder it may be a good idea to cover some of the more tender plants like Citrus trees. Get some frost fleece and wrap 2-3 layers around the plant (not too tight as you need some air around) and secure with some twine or string. You can also wrap the pot (if it’s in one) to insulate the roots. This is essential for new plants and advisable for older ones as it takes some of the stress of the cold off. Meaning the plant will pick up quickly in spring. Or if you have a light, warm place inside bring it indoors a warm conservatory is perfect.

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Phew…well that’s enough for now. But a gardeners work is never done.

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