by Wally Richards

THINGS WE MIGHT MISS OR FORGET

It is a very interesting spring and start to the new season.

Most of us are saying where is spring? It is already into October and not much springy in the air.

Mind you before the Polar Blast that had us adding another layer of clothes and lighting the fire we did have some not-too-bad days.

Hopefully, those mild days were sufficient to bring some of the pests out of their winter hiding places to be stuck dead by the cold blast.

If in spring we have an early start with sunny days and warm temperatures, then it turns to custard with a few days of bitter cold then all the pests that came out will shiver to death and our pest problem will be significantly reduced.

It then will be into the new year before their numbers multiply and cause problems.

It is now not long before Labour Weekend arrives and that is the New Zealand Traditional time for planting out the tender plants such a tomatoes and Impatiens.

More tender plants such as cucumbers should not be planted till the weather really settles otherwise they just sit there and sulk.

If you do early plantings of non-hardy plants then only do a couple or so and then two to three weeks later another little planting.

Follow that pattern and you can’t go wrong.

It is a timely reminder to check grafted fruit trees, ornamentals and roses.

Grafted means they are growing on a similar family plant’s root stock.

This is done for several reasons such as preventing suckering, giving what is supposed to be a better plant such as High Health in Roses and also to determine the end result size of the tree.

The root stock can and often does start producing foliage and if that is allowed to grow then the energy from the roots is grabbed by the root stock’s development and likely at some time the tree that is grafted onto the root stock will fail and die.

Normally it is fairly easy to see the union where the tree is connected to the root stock.

So any foliage that appears there on the root stock should be rubbed off or cut off to prevent it growing bigger.

Sometime the foliage may appear from under the soil near the trunk. Once again remove.

I have come to understand that grafted stone fruit trees are very likely to have curly leaf disease as the graft is a weakening aspect of the tree’s health and vigor.

I learnt this week an interesting thing; apparently if a person receives a transplant organ then over time that person may start to develop characteristics and even memories of the donor.

Which make s me wonder if a grafted tree starts to show aspects of the tree it is grafted too?

Dwarf stone fruit are the worst to have curly leaf problems.

If you grow a peach, nectarine or plum from a stone then apparently because it is on its own root system it will be far less likely to have curly leaf disease and maybe also less or none of other problems.

With roses we some times see what is often called a water shoot which is a strong upward shoot from near the base.

I think the recommendation is to cut them off but on one occasion I let it grow and with some cosmetic pruning over a couple of seasons turn a bush rose into a standard.

A reader today asked about her compost bins which are made out of tanalised timber.

She asked ‘Would the tanalised timber be harmful to the compost and would it be ok to use the compost on the vegetable garden’?

Tantalized timber has some nasty chemicals in them (Ask any older builder that has worked with tantalized timber for years about how they are faring)

I also learnt from a building inspector that tantalized fence palings that I screwed to my steel warehouse

(To attach steel cages onto for gas bottles and instant gas hot water unit) would overtime eat into the steel and cause corrosion.

So if the chemical can do that to colour steel what are they going to do to your food crops that will take up the chemicals that leach into the soil/compost?

Not a healthy outlook for sure.

The answer is to give the tantalized wood that has been cut to the right size a couple of coats of acrylic paint before assembling to seal the chemicals in.

This is also applied to raised gardens when using tantalized timber.

Container plants indoors and outdoors over winter required much less water but now as the day light hours increase and temperatures rise they will require more moisture.

A problem arises though in that the growing medium, when it became dry causes tension that does not allow the water to penetrate.

So when you water not all the mix/root system gets any moisture and you have a dry spot.

Water rather than staying in the mix a lot of it will run out into the saucer.

There are two ways to solve this problem.

Containers that are not too large should be taken and plunged into a tub of water submerging the whole pot. It will start to bubble away which is the air being forced out of the medium as the water replaces the dry air pockets.

When the pot stops bubbling, lift up and let the surplus water drain out before returning to its saucer.

That means next time you water the plant will get all the benefit.

If you have a large container that you cannot plunge into a tank of water then what you do is this.

Fill your watering can with warm water and then give a good squirt of dish washing liquid into it.

Lather up with your hand to make the water nice and soapy.

Water the soapy water into the container mix and this will break the tension and allow water to wet the whole mix till the same happens again.

Hanging baskets are prone to having tension and not getting a proper drink. This is especially so with hanging baskets outdoors.

Plunge into a tub of water and watch them bubble. During the summer outdoor baskets should be plunged once a month.

Another big problem with container plants is root mealy bugs and the easy way to fix is to sprinkle a little of Wally’s Neem Tree powder over the mix then cover with a little more potting mix.

The powder with become mouldy as it breaks down and look unsightly.

Under a layer of fresh mix you will not see it.