Ewen's garden

A collection of columns, paintings and photographs about gardening on an offshore island in New Zealand.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Preparing for the dry season

Another successful Garden Safari is over and all those who worked hard to have everything ready in time can now to take a well earned break from it all and just enjoy. I had t he benefit of an early Christmas present this weekend, it was a new hammock! So it is a pleasure to put my own feet up and take in the view of the garden from a different angle! I think it is important to have different vantage points from which to enjoy your garden. I have seats all over the garden, not expensive ones, mostly just a plank of wood sitting on a couple of concrete bricks. These seats work perfectly well to pop the beer down on while pulling a few weeds or for taking a wee break! It is the time of year though when the weeds are all rushing ahead and need to be kept in their place, so not too much time to pause.

Now would be a good time to be getting a good layer of mulch on the garden. Pea straw is excellent if you can get hold of some. Otherwise sea grass blown onto the westerly beaches after a blow is also good, especially after it has rained; this washes the salt out of it. Salt is not good for the soil and your plants will not appreciate it. Now would also be a good time to be putting a little bit of fertiliser about the trees and shrubs. This is best done around the drip line, where the feeding roots are to be found.

While in the vegetable garden and owing to the fact that I had just had minor surgery, I took the opportunity to instruct Hans on some elementary gardening skills. Firstly the tomatoes need to be pruned and staked. Tomatoes are generally pruned to remove any laterals emerging from the base of the leaves on the main stem. His concentrates the plants energy on the flower trusses that have already formed. Also the plant is much more easily tied to a stake if it has been pruned in such a manner. The other reason is if the laterals grow, the whole plant becomes ungainly and liable to break in the wind, further the energy of the plant is also dispersed across too much vegetable matter. I am delighted to see the first flower trusses emerging on our wee tomato plants, can¬Ęt wait for the first harvest. These vegetables will be requiring some amount of water now to maintain their growth. Time to check the level of water in the tank, I was alarmed to see how much water we have been through recently. It doesn't take much of a dry spell to get through the supply. So we will be full on into using our water wisely from now this summer.

Finally one of the pleasures of our garden is to be able to pick strawberries, how ever our crop is under attack from slaters or wood lice. I am at a complete loss as to how to combat them, they appear to be living in the top layer of mulch and under the leaves. Such a shame to see nice fat berries only to find several slaters beneath have eaten most of the delicacy themselves. Any help on this would be most appreciated.

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