This month in your garden

Feeding your fruit and nut trees is top priority this month.

They need a fertiliser that will feed everything this time and hopefully the winter rains will wash it all into the roots for you. Mature trees need 900 g of 20.10.10 fertiliser (3 medium mugfuls), whilst young trees need 300 g (1 mugful) and the fertiliser will nourish the roots, fruits and leaves of the trees. If you have small trees in pots then use a liquid fertiliser.  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 those sticky cards tucked in amongst the branches.  Mediterranean fruit flies will be about now that the fruits are ripening with the skins much softer for them to probe and lay their eggs inside, although lemons and limes are usually safe.

Prune hedges and shrubs whilst the new growth is fresh. Topiaries, so fashionable nowadays, can easily lose their shape. They are expensive to buy, so watch them carefully and snip out any rogue growth. Skimmias are generally available for sale at this time of year as pot plants, but they do not transfer well into the garden.

Shops and garden centres will be full of poinsettias this month although they are not everyone’s favourite Christmas plant. Fast falling out of flavour with some gardeners in the UK, they are still very popular here and do bring some Christmas cheer with their bright festive colours. When you get your poinsettia home, carefully remove the wrapping and stand the pot in a bowl of water for about half an hour. Lift the pot and let any water drain off before placing the plant in its final container. Only water them when the top of the soil is dry. Should you wish to use a flower stem in a floral arrangement, remember that poinsettias belong to the Euphorbia family and when cut, the stems will bleed a milky sap that can be an irritant on skin.  This can be sealed over a flame.

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