This month in your garden

Feeding the fruit and nut trees is a top priority this month. The trees will be putting out new leaves as the fruits colour up and need a fertiliser that will feed everything this month when hopefully the winter rains will wash it all into the roots for you. Mature trees need 900 gms (3 mugs) of 20.10.10 fertiliser, whilst young trees need 300 gms – (just one mug) spread around the base of the tree between the trunk and the tree canopy. Some find that the number system of fertilisers confusing. The first number is for Nitrogen, for good green growth; the second number is Phosphorous, which ensures good root growth and ripe fruits and the third number is for the Potassium content, which promotes good flowers and fruits.  Mediterranean fruit flies may be about now that the fruits are ripening making the skins much softer for them to puncture and lay their eggs inside. Choose a still day if you feel you must spray your fruit trees, so that the spray is not blown everywhere.  If you don’t like to use a chemical spray then hang out those sticky yellow cards amongst the branches, which attracts the blighters! 

This is a good time to be planting fruit trees if the ground is not too cold. If in doubt about what you might be buying, choose a tree that has some fruit on it already so that you will be not disappointed.  Some trees can be pruned now that their leaves have dropped. Pecans in particular can grow to enormous heights if they aren’t kept under control. Shrubs  as well as trees may also need a tidy up. This following rule applies  to both trees and shrubs – cut out any dead or diseased branches and those that cross in the middle of the tree.  The exception to this are plum trees, which tend to grow in higher elevations here.  They should be pruned after harvesting the fruit, or they may be affected by ‘silver leaf’, a fungal disease of the wood. The fungus infects the wood through pruning wounds that have not healed, and causes a silvering of the leaves, followed by the death of the branch.  I have stopped growing any prunus trees in my garden, along with other friends who live nearby, as they were subject to bacterial canker, which is very difficult to deal with.

Bare root roses at available  now and are able to be planted out if the ground is not too cold.  When you get the plant home remove the packing and stand it in a bowl of water for several hours to recover. Trim the roots to about 15 cms. Make sure that the planting hole is larger and deeper than the roots. Add some slow-release fertiliser to the bottom of the damp hole and fill in with soil keeping the graft point above the level of the soil. If you don’t do this  you will eventually get suckers forming at that point.  All Hybrid Tea roses are grafted.