Plan van aksie: Nigel Colborn se noodsaaklike werksgeleenthede vir u tuin hierdie week
GIVE APPLES AND PEARS A BOOST
Winter pruning of apple and pear trees can be carried out now. Summer pruning is done to increase yields and improve fruit quality.
Pruning in winter is only necessary if your trees have crowded branches, congested fruiting spurs or watershoots.
Begin by thinning out overcrowded branches. Try to give your tree an open shape, with well-spaced branches. That will enable the sun to reach more of the fruit, speeding up ripening and improving flavour.
With spur-fruiting varieties, congested spurs will need thinning every few years. Reduce the total number of spurs, leaving about 9cm between each. Remove the oldest, where possible.
UK-based gardening expert Nigel Colborn says winter pruning of apple and pear trees can be carried out now
With younger fruiting spurs, reduce congestion by snipping away the short, stubby shoots. Then reduce the number of buds on each spur. Leave just one or two buds on each.
Watershoots – sometimes called suckers – are usually seen on ageing trees which are under stress. Don’t confuse those with suckers that grow up from the ground. Those are coming from the rootstock and must always be removed, cutting at ground level.
Watershoots are long, dun, stems growing vertically from mature limbs or trunk. Remove those, cutting them flush with the limb. To improve the trees’ health, thin the canopy. Prevent grass from growing up to the tree base.
CLIMBERS CAN BE TAMED
Herbaceous climbing plants such as golden hops, everlasting pea, links, or Chilean glory flower can be cut back for winter. They can be severed at ground level and all the dead or dying top-growth removed. New shoots will appear next spring and grow up rapidly. Clematis that flower after June 21 can also be severely pruned.
Vigorous small to medium flowered varieties of C. viticella can also be hard pruned now. These will bud from overwintered stems, egter, so there’s no need to cut right back to ground level. Those that have grown into trees are better left untouched.
PUT MOWERS TO BED
Petrol-driven mowers should be prepared for the winter. If a postseason service or check-up is due, get that done now.
Modern petrol engines are sensitive to fuel quality and often won’t start if petrol is stale, so try not to leave any fuel in the engine or tank. If there’s a valve in the fuel-feed pipe, shut that off. Then run the engine until it stalls. When starting next year’s mowing season, it’s worth investing in superquality mower petrol or fuel additives such as Hayter Premium Fuel Treatment. This can prevent problems caused by petrol ingredients such as ethanol.
PLANT OF THE WEEK: ERICA X DARLEYENSIS ‘DARLEY DALE’
Nigel says winter flowering heathers have more garden value than almost anything else
Winter flowering heathers have more garden value than almost anything else. They’re easy to grow, tolerate a range of conditions and hardly ever fail. The variety Darley Dale is an old one but still one of the best. The evergreen leaves make a pleasant background for the tiny but massed pale-pink flowers. Like almost all winter and spring heathers, this one is happy in any well-drained soil acid or alkaline.
Though evergreens are maintenance-free, all winter heathers benefit from a trim in early summer. They stay compact, growing as low mounds.
A READER’S QUESTION…
We’ve taken over an allotment infested with nettles and bindweed. We want to avoid herbicide. Is there a ‘green’ way to deal with the stuff?
Pauline Blair, via email.
Cover the ground with black, heavy-duty polythene. If you cover part of the allotment a third, perhaps that leaves you some ground to clear by hand and grow crops.
Select the least infested area for your first cultivations. In die lente, dig out as many weed roots as you can before planting crops Next autumn or spring, lift the polythene and prepare the newly exposed ground for planting. Smothering weeds is a slow process but well worth doing.