This month in your garden

Major pruning should have been done by now and it is always a good idea to feed the plants afterwards, including feeding of roses. There are various rose foods on the market (which you can also use on irises).  Roses need a fertiliser something along the lines of 12.11.18. The letters on the packets (NPK) denote the strengths of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium that the plants need to grow well, but if you don’t like using artificial fertilisers, you can always chop up banana skins and put them around the roots of the rose bushes – waste not, want not!  Other plants may need different strengths and this is usually printed on the packets or containers. I do miss being able to get peat-based composts for pot plants.  I am all for conservation and doing what we can to help the environment, but have you noticed that potting composts available for garden or pot use these days have lots of debris in them, such as bits of plastic, from bags and sometimes from plant pots! So remember my mantra of turning out bags of compost before use, which as well as breaking up all the lumps to get some air into it, will give you the chance to remove any offending bits of plastic and large twigs.

Annual seeds are usually scattered over the ground with a light covering of soil resulting in many seedlings clustered together, so thin them out in order that the remainder have room to grow. There are many different vegetable plugs in the garden centres which take the hit and miss out of sowing veggie seeds. If you use the same area for veggies rotate your crops so that you don’t grow the same things in the same spot every season.  The break between seasons is a good time to dig in the contents of your compost bins as well, as it is much better for you and your family than using artificial fertilisers.

Fruit and nut trees are other plants to check on now.  Pecans and figs may need a dose of zinc chelate at this time. The dosage is 2 dessertspoons in 10 litres of water, watered into the ground about 30 cms away from the trunk. Keep watching out for green flies, black flies and brown flies on new foliage. Spray with a soapy solution or run your fingers up and down the stems to get rid of them.  

It is always good to take cuttings of favourite plants for when they fail and you can’t find any more in the garden centres.  You should be able to pot on any cuttings that you took earlier now, after checking the bottom of the pots to see if there are any white fibrous roots appearing through the holes. This means that they are ready to move up a pot.  Gradually introduce them to the outside world, as they are still quite vulnerable at this stage. And watch out for emerging snails!

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