16 Tuesday December202016 Gardening SELWYN TIMES Now is the time to enjoy Rachel Vogan says to keep on top of a few key tasks over the festive season, then kick back and enjoy the fruits of your labour WELCOME TO the silly season! This month it’s all about doing a few things well, then sitting back and enjoying it. Make sure you pimp out your summer pots if you have not done so already; look to advanced-growth potted colour or any flowering perennials to add that something special outdoors. Using plants that are already in bloom will give you instant results, and don’t be frightened to add herbs and salad crops to your patio planters as well. Surrounding yourself with a living kitchen pantry will not only look fabulous, but make you feel good, too. Salvia ‘Bonfire’ This vibrant member of the sage family throws up the most amazing, cheerful, candlestick spikes of sunset-red flowers for months on end. It is a go-to option for anyone who has a sunny position in a pot or front garden that wants bold colour. Once it starts flowering it doesn’t stop for months. It is an annual, so it won’t come back next season, but don’t let this put you off, as it’s just an extraordinarily colourful character that is worthy of a spot in your plot. Potatoes Early tasty tatties will be on the menu soon; ‘Jersey Benne’ and ‘Cliff Kidney’ are perfect waxy spuds for Christmas. Try not to dig them too early – wait until the last possible moment so you can maximise the largest harvest. Over the next few weeks keep the water up to them, especially if you are using planters, in which the soil will dry out more quickly than the ground. This is also a good time to plant a new batch of potatoes, to harvest next autumn. Look for ‘Agria’ or ‘Summer Delight’ as go-to varieties. Plums and Cherries The stone fruit season is upon us; early plums and cherries are fattening and ripening up nicely. Always allow the fruit to fully ripen on the tree, because if it is picked too early the flavour will not fully develop. Do not expect a lot of fruit from newly planted trees either. They may produce a few fruit in the first year, but normally a decent harvest will take a season or two to appear. Add a layer of mulch around the base of trees now and aim to give them a deep watering (that’s about half a bucket of water per tree) once a week, if possible. SHUTTERSTOCK/SAYANJO65 Sweet corn Corn needs to be in the ground soon. Many of you will have your plants in already. It is too late to sow seed, so seedlings are your only option. For the best results, work in plenty of manure or compost to the soil prior to planting, as corn needs loads of water for juicy cobs. It will thrive in big tubs or planters, too. Try growing runner beans up the stems, as this is an easy space-saving idea. Lilies The fragrance of Christmas lilies reinforces that the festive season is here. Asian lilies are also starting to bloom. These sturdy, shorter types come in every shade of the rainbow, right through to almost black. Oriental lilies are in bloom as well – many of these are fragrant, too. When picking lilies, cut them in the morning and plunge them straight into water up to their necks. Don’t forget to remove any foliage that will sit below the water line. Try to leave some of the stem in the ground (don’t cut the lily off at ground level) as the bulbs need a few leaves to photosynthesise, creating energy for next year’s blooms. Now is a good time to apply a side-dressing of bulb food. Tomatoes Remove laterals as they appear and avoid watering a little every day, because doing that only encourages the roots to stay near the soil surface where they can burn and be damaged. A few deep waterings a week is the way to go. It isn’t too late to plant seedlings out, however, you’ve missed the seed-sowing boat. gardening without guesswork Question: I have a couple of lemon trees in my garden that have been there for a few years now. I haven’t done much with them, what do you suggest I do to them? Lemon trees in the garden are very Answer: much a kiwi icon! They are a great addition to any garden, their health benefits are fantastic! As far as looking after your trees, here are the top things you need to know. Make sure they are planted in good soil. If you haven’t added any organic compost to the garden bed for a while, get on to this now. Adding vital organic matter will help to keep the soil healthy, as it creates the perfect growing environment for your tree. Sheep pellets are an excellent addition as well. Your tree will benefit from a regular annual feed of Intelligro Citrus Fertiliser to help them produce their juicy fruits. Fertilise in spring and summer, at around 300g per square metre. You will want to sprinkle the fertiliser around the drip line (where the outer leaves fall) and then water-well afterwards. They will also need plenty of water at this time. By keeping on top of fertilising and watering, you will keep your plant healthier, it will produce more fruit, and significantly reduce their chance of disease and attacks from pests. Pruning only really needs to be done to keep the tree tidy, to remove any damaged or diseased areas, or to increase air circulation around the plant. Make sure you use sharp secateurs, and make clean cuts. Prune on fine days during this time of year, and fertilise and water afterwards. Don’t go overboard with pruning – it doesn’t need it! for more information, check out our website: www.intelligro.co.nz or visit our facebook page: www.facebook.com/igro.co.nz Thanks to Emily for her question WIN! a $50 INTEllIgrO gIfT VOuchEr! handy hint Send us your question and BE IN Want a lemon tree but don’t have a garden? TO WIN! Email to: email@example.com or post your question on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/igro.co.nz New questions received by Tuesday 27th December Meyer lemon trees grow excellently in pots. If you are restricted to only having pots and containers, then this variety is for you. Make sure you plant them in our Patio Plus potting mix, and ask us about what fertiliser to use. There are different fertilisers for trees and plants in pots and for those that are in garden beds! QualITy prOducTs frOm ThE WEB TO ThE shEd!
SELWYN TIMES Tuesday December202016 17 Pohutukawa is a plant hard to miss • By Rachel Vogan NO OTHER plant decorates our country’s coastlines, roadsides and bushlines better than the pōhutukawa. The eruption of crimson bottlebrush-like flowers in summer makes this plant hard to miss. Flashes of red and gold flowers paint the skyline on the large established tree forms of Metrosideros excelsa in the warmest part of the country. In cooler areas, the hardier, smaller hybrids – such as southern rātā and pōhutukawa cross M. excelsa × M. umbellata ‘Maungapiko’ can be found in flower. M. collina ‘Tahiti’, M. excelsa ‘Vibrance’, M. excelsa ‘Maori Maiden’ and the southern rātā, M. umbellata all have a similar red festive cloak of scarlet blooms. Did you know that the name ‘pōhutukawa’ means ‘drenched with spray’? I am sure this refers to the numerous beautiful trees growing in the most random places on craggy seaside outcrops and in places where only birds live. This regal flowering monarch deserves every accolade, and many are not aware that it isn’t actually that fussy about where it puts its roots. All it needs is protection from frosts and an area in which it can get sun pretty much all day. Soil-wise it is happy in light sandy soils right through to heavy clay soils, as long as it’s not waterlogged for any prolonged amount of time. In pots and containers it is pretty much the same, just note they do have a large fibrous root system, so a larger pot or wine barrel is the size you want to seek out. When plants are young, shelter all varieties from frost. The new growth is quite delicate and late frosts can easily burn and kill it, and damaged foliage means less flowers. Birds and bees just love the nectar the flowers provide, and will often hang around the same tree for quite some time. Putting out a saucer of water will keep these garden friends around even longer, as they often leave when they are thirsty. The flowers are best left on the plants because they sulk almost immediately in a vase – so don’t plant them as a picking option. Salty sea winds? Not a problem. Not many plants take as kindly as pōhutukawa to growing by the seaside. The thick leathery leaves are remarkably tough to strong winds, and with such a fibrous root system you rarely see them topple over once they are established; the roots seem to have an ability to cling onto even the craggiest of rocky areas. Plants will germinate from seed, but if you wish to grow your own, cuttings are the better option. However, you will need to wait a few years for the plant to be big enough to plant out. So, if you are like me and do not want to wait, look for a well-grown specimen to plant out now to enjoy your festive time in the garden. For something a little different, look out for M. ‘Moon Maiden’. This one has pale creamy limegreen flowers in clusters like the red forms. It is compact, too, so a good one to use as a gap filler along the fence line. WHOLESALE SCREENED SOIL MAINSCAPE Garden Supplies “Making your great outdoors greater” • Soil • Compost • Aggregates • Bark • Decorative stone We deliver 6 days a week or pickup from our yard Mon & Fri 8am–5pm, Sat 8am–3pm Eftpos available Call us on 021 241 7908 1543 Springs Rd, Lincoln View our range of products on our website www.mainscapegardensupplies.co.nz VIVID: Clockwise – Often dubbed the national flower of New Zealand, this shrub-come-tree is adored by so many. Vibrance is a hardier low-growing hybrid with brilliant silvergrey foliage that sets off the colourful red flowers when in bloom. Ideal for smaller gardens and pots. Metrosideros collina (Pacific Island pōhutukawa) looks a picture with its bloodorange blooms. Its fat candle-like silver buds just add to the plant’s charm and appeal. The magazine for gardeners who like To geT Their hands dirTy www.gardener.kiwi 100% Intelligro’s Christmas & New Year Opening Hours Mon 18th - Fri 23rd December 8am - 5pm Saturday 24th December 8am - 3pm Sunday 25th December CLOSED Monday 26th December CLOSED Tuesday 27th December CLOSED Wed 28th - Fri 30th December 8am - 5pm Saturday 31st December 8am - 3pm Sunday 1st January CLOSED Monday 2nd January CLOSED Tuesday 3rd January CLOSED Wednesday 4th January Resume Normal Trading From the team at Intelligro, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year. We want to thank you for your continued support, especially through our big changes. We look forward to seeing you in 2017. Visit our facebook page: www.facebook.com/igro.co.nz www.igro.co.nz | Phone 03 347 9415