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Gardening

Hello Gardeners!

What an interesting Winter we’ve been having, with the wonderful amount of rain leaving gardeners and gardens smiling. Thought I would mix it up a bit this month with a little bit of fruit, a little bit of plant life and a little bit of tool care in your life.


BLUEBERRIES

Blueberries like a sunny position as too much shade will stop the plant flowering. They can be planted from containers at any time of the year. They are lovely and delicious, take up very little space and can be grown in either the garden or a large pot. If planting in a pot use Azalea and Camellia planting mix.

Blueberries like acid soil, well-drained and a PH of about 5. The PH of sandy soils can be made better by adding Peat Moss. First check the PH of your soil. As the plants are shallow-rooted make sure to mulch with Peat, Lucerne or Sugar Cane, so as not to disturb the root system.

In Spring, feed with a Citrus and Fruit Tree fertilizer. About a man’s handful (50 grams) per plant for the first and second year and then reduce by half to 25 grams per plant for the following years. The young leaves will change colour from light green to a tinge of red. If the young leaves start to go yellow it is an iron deficiency, and usually means the PH is too high. This iron deficiency can be corrected in Spring by using Iron Chelate (at the rate on the packaging.)

Water at the same time and same day. They like the consistency, especially when the flower starts and when the fruit is picked. NEVER allow the Blueberries grown in pots to dry right out.

Very little pruning is required in the first three years. The plant will grow better if the flowers are removed in the first year of planting. In the fourth year pruning should be done in Spring.

When harvesting the Blueberries leave them on the bush for a few days after they turn blue, as they will develop a better flavour. Then pick and enjoy.


HELICONIAS

These have become extremely popular, and I have been purchasing quite a few for the nursery. What I love about Heliconias is their dramatic look. Their flowers are not actually flowers, but modified leaves called bracts. They will grow anywhere except in areas where the temperature goes below five degrees. They like a rich well-composted soil with protection from wind. They should be kept moist but not over-watered when young. Feed well in early Summer and when the ‘flowers’ are finished remove the whole stem down low, as each stem flowers only once. New shoots will appear regularly near the old stem and grow quickly in the warmer weather.

Some of the small and medium varieties are suited to growing in large pots. Use a good potting mix and liquid feed once a month.

PRUNING

Your garden will require occasional or regular pruning. More damage can be done to trees through well-intended but poorly-executed pruning than by any other activity. So here are a few simple rules to help pruning:

  • Improving production - foliage, flowers, fruits

  • Improving appearance - better form, remove dead wood, promote new growth, remove pests and diseases

  • Improve safety – removal of weight, remove away from homes

  • Remove a nuisance – low hanging branches, branches too close to home, unwanted fruits and leaves

PRUNING TOOLS

A good pair of secateurs, which are kept sharp and clean. Sharpen on a stone and clean regularly with methylated spirits. Hand pruning or lopping shears.

PRUNING TIME

  • When pruning, don’t remove too much of the tree at one time

  • Small cuts are preferred, as these exposed wounds may provide entry points for disease or decay in the tree. Spray over the cut with Steri-prune to prevent infection.

  • Don’t allow the plant to tear when cutting the branch. The under-cut method is a good way of stopping this from happening. If you prune correctly, rapid recovery of the tree will be improved.

Young trees will cope with a bad prune more so than older trees. Older trees will stress if they are not pruned properly and this can cause death from disease and rotting.


CYCLAMENS

We recently had Cyclamens in the store, although there are none available here at the moment. I thought I would give you some information on how to care for your beautiful treasure. This stunning beautifully coloured plant will lend itself to any home.

Place in a position with plenty of natural indirect light, with good ventilation and no draughts. At least two metres back from a window. Keep the plant lightly moist without over-watering. Feed with Nitrosol or Flourish every 3 to 4 weeks. Remove the spent flower heads and yellowed leaves. Give the stems a twist and a sharp pull – do not cut the flowers off.

Like Fred Flintstone did with his cat – put the Cyclamens outside at night! Then bring them back inside first thing in the morning. Cyclamens are cold-blooded and do not tolerate heated homes for long periods of time.



‘Til next month,

Happy Gardening,

Jill





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