Home' Greymouth Star : May 7th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
In the Garden
trees are long-
additions to any
They are planted in winter but
doing the groundwork is important.
Start by considering what you want
to grow and how much space you
have. Few things look sadder than a
butchered pear tree that has outgrown
its site. As with any tree, size really
does matter when making a choice.
To save space, a sunny fence or
wall could lend itself to one or two
espaliered trees. Plums, apples, pears
and quinces are good espalier subjects
but the pruning requirements are
much greater than for free-standing
Commercially, fruit trees usually
are produced by grafting. To do this,
pencil-thin twigs (scions) of named
varieties are grafted on to vigorous
young trees (rootstock). For apples,
the rootstock ranges from M27 for
super dwarf trees) to M793 (6m or
more). Apricots are often grafted on
to peach rootstock and to keep them
more compact, pears on to quinces.
When buying trees, check that the
graft, usually about 15cm above the
ground, looks strong.
The ideal spot for fruit trees faces
north and gets at least six hours
of sunshine daily, but apples and
pears, including nashi, will tolerate
somewhat less sun. Neighbouring
large trees close to your boundary
may gobble nutrients from your
ground and shade your fruit.
Trees will die if their roots are
waterlogged, so solid clay will need
work to loosen and enrich it. Rotary-
hoeing the entire area can be helpful,
although it does chop perennial
weeds, such as dandelions, into small
pieces that will spring up almost
everywhere if not picked out. Tedious
though soil preparation is, the short-
term pain is well worth it for the
Before you plant your trees, dig
large, wide holes for them so the roots
will not be cramped, then put into the
bottom of the hole, some blood and
bone plus a good general fertiliser
and top off with a layer of soil so the
roots do not touch the fertilisers. The
biggest mistake is to make holes that
are too deep and not wide enough for
the roots to spread out starfish-like.
It is important to get a handle on
some of the terms on labels. When
only one tree is needed to produce
fruit, it is termed self-fertile. All
peaches and nectarines are in this
group. Partially self-fertile
trees (Sundrop apricots, for
instance) will produce fruit
on their own but crop better
if a compatible variety (a
pollinator) is grown nearby.
Most pears need pollinators
(a nashi can be used for a
European pear), while plums
may need pollinators, be self-
fertile or partially self-fertile.
However, neighbours may
have fruit trees that can cross-
pollinate yours. I once saw a
heavily laden greengage and
was puzzled because it was
the only plum tree in an 0.4ha
garden, and a greengage must
have a compatible variety
(usually Coe’s Golden Drop)
nearby to fruit. Then the
garden owner indicated her
neighbour’s ratty old plum, which was
doing the job and saving her having
to buy another tree.
Brendan, of Greymouth Nurseries,
says Santa Rosa and Black Doris are
“ very popular” plums locally. Santa
Rosa is partly self-fertile, but does
better with a pollinator. As well as
Black Doris, Omega can be used.
Brown-skinned and heavy cropping,
Winter Cole and Winter Nelis are
top pear choices for the West Coast,
although William’s Bon Chretien,
with its light yellow skin and sweet
flesh also appeals. Grow any two of
these three within bee-flying distance
of one another and good crops are
Apples are probably the most
popular fruit for home gardeners in
New Zealand and Brendan says that
in the past few years, varieties that
are resistant to black spot and other
diseases are becoming more popular.
Apart from those who are anti-spray
grounds, there is the
time factor, as busy
people do not want to have the chore
of a regular spraying regime.
Smaller gardens can still have fruit
trees. Look for dwarf nectarines and
peaches, Ballerina apples and Meyer
lemons, all of which can be grown in
open ground or in containers.
An advantage of growing in pots is
that if the location proves unsuitable,
the container can be shifted to
somewhere the tree likes better, while
for those in rented accommodation,
pot-grown fruit trees can be moved
if you do.
Others for small gardens are non-
suckering thornless blackberries
like Black Satin or Navaho — great
“ Blueberries do well here,”
Brendan says. He recommends Blue
Dawn, Blue Magic and Tasty Blue as
suitable for the West Coast.
This year, fruit trees are expected
to be in garden centres in June, later
than usual, but that is no reason
to delay ordering. Inevitably, some
popular varieties sell out early, so pre-
ordering — with a back-up choice or
two — is recommended.
Thursday, May 7, 2015 - 7
with Gillian Vine
utumn is a wonderful
time in the garden;
milder weather is
perfect for some of
the heavier garden
tasks like preparing
soils for planting or
perennial plants, or a general garden tidy up.
Keep liquid feeding edibles to promote
steady growth and tastier har vests. Enjoy the
seasonal autumn foliage display and rake up
and collect the fallen leaves to add to your
May 4 to 10 is international composting
Homemade compost makes use of kitchen
scraps and garden prunings, clippings and
autumn leaves that might otherwise go to
landfill and compost provides a rich source of
organic matter and nutrients for the garden.
To aid the composting process, add some
compost maker into the compost pile, which
contains biological accelerators to speed up
the composting process and nutrients to help
nurture the microbes. Applying some lime and
dolomite can help raise the pH and sweeten
Fruit and citrus
Citrus are handsome ornamental trees
— with glossy green foliage, scented white
blossoms and colourful fruit — a fabulous
choice to display in large pots.
Here are our top tips for keeping potted
citrus trees healthy and productive.
Choose a spot which gets plenty of sun --
six hours daily.
Pot size: 400 to 500mm sized pots are ideal
— select decorative plastic, timber half barrels,
cement or stone pots and ensure there’s plenty
of drainage holes in the base. Fill pots with
premium quality potting mix.
Regular watering of potted citrus is
important. O ver time potting mix loses the
ability to absorb water, evident when water
applied runs straight off the surface of the
mix, pouring down the inside walls of the
pot, leaving the soil and root ball dry. An
application of Yates Water wise Soil Wetter is
beneficial, containing a combination of fast
acting wetting agents and soil conditioners
that improve moisture penetration of water
repellant soils. The hose-on formulation
can also be diluted into a watering can and
watered in over the potting mix.
Little and often is the key to feeding
potted citrus, so liquid fertiliser is the ideal
way to deliver nutrients regularly. Citrus liquid
plant food is a complete food, containing a
balance of nutrients for healthy green foliage
and juicy more abundant fruit. The liquid is
taken up by both the roots and the foliage so
you see results sooner.
Potting citrus will restrict their growth, but
there are dwarf citrus available grafted on to
Flying Dragon root — stock which naturally
controls the plant size, without compromising
fruit size or quantity. Labelled dwarf,
pipsqueak or compact they are in plentiful
supply during autumn and winter. They do
well in sunny well drained gardens too!
Kaffir Lime is a delightful citrus tree to
grow in a pot. It is grown primarily for its
highly aromatic leaves — just one or two
added to your curry or stir fry brings an
authentic Asian flavour to home cooked meals.
Regular feeding with citrus liquid plant food
encourages soft new growth. The hard green
knobby fruits are great for zesting, but filled
with seeds so if you like lime juice, grow a
delicious Tahitian lime as well.
Scale Insects? Check citrus trees for scale
insects. They are small dome shaped structures
noticed on stems, leaves and fruit. Colours and
types of scale insects vary — white, red, brown
and pink, and can appear smooth or even like
cotton wool. A waxy or hard coating develops
on adult scale insects and they rarely move.
Sooty mould and ants are commonly seen
with scale infestations. Control scale insects
by spraying with ready to use bug oil, which
contains white oil to smother and kill the scale
Winter or bare-root roses appear in stores
during May, but most mail order roses are not
dispatched until June or July, depending on
where you live. Roses are long lived plants,
so soil preparation is essential. Whether you
prepare soil a month or a day before planting,
do not skip this important job! Improve the
soil by mixing a good sprinkling of organic
plant food into the planting hole and dig it
all in well. It promotes early root growth in
roses by improving soil structure and water
holding capacity, encouraging earthworms and
beneficial soil microorganisms and supplying
slow release, organic nutrients.
Why is it so good to plant in autumn?
Autumn is a great time to plant almost
anything, from tiny seedlings to large trees. It
is also an ideal time to choose plants for their
autumn foliage colours.
Soil temperatures are still warm enough
to encourage root growth, and milder
temperatures reduce water stress. Young plants
planted into gardens in autumn have a good
chance to settle in well, making optimum
growth under and above ground before they
have to cope with summers heat. Often spring
arrives with a blast of early high temperatures,
which stresses young plants if their roots are
not well established.
In temperate and cool zones autumn growth
can be quite phenomenal, especially if mild
temperatures are accompanied by good
autumn rains. Roots become well established
and foliage grows and hardens off before
winter — stronger plants are more able to cope
with extremes of temperature and dryness.
Milder temperatures are kinder on gardeners
too — after all holes will not dig themselves!
Prepare planting holes — whether you are
moving plants, getting ready for the arrival
of winter roses or deciduous trees and fruits,
or taking advantage of the milder weather to
plant a new garden, soil preparation is the key
to success. Prior to planting, improve your
site soil by adding organics, such as a good
sprinkling of plant food and dig it all in well.
Transplanting trees and shrubs — during
the cooler months from May to August it is
an ideal time to transplant trees, shrubs and
perennial plants. The plants suffer less water
loss and transplant shock is minimised as
growth slows over autumn and winter. Many
evergreens and most deciduous plants can
be moved with a reasonably good chance of
success providing it is done carefully, and at
the right time of year.
Use a sharp spade to dig around and then
under to sever the roots. Try to take a sizeable
root ball, including soil, so there are plenty of
feeder roots still attached. Use heavy builder’s
plastic or shade-cloth to slide the plant out of
its old position and into the new. Prepare the
new planting hole by mixing in a few handfuls
of plant food to help enrich and improve the
soil. Water the plant well and keep the soil
moist especially as new shoots appear.
Flower of the month
Cheery Chrysanthemums are a classic
Mother’s Day flower, and a symbol of
happiness and longevity in Japan. Potted
‘mums are a great gift, whilst garden
chrysanthemums fill beds with colourful
Indoors choose a well lit position for potted
chrysanthemum, and water every few days,
but don’t leave them standing in saucers of
water. Liquid feed every two weeks, then after
4-6 weeks, as the display finishes, trim back
spent stems at the base, then plant outside in a
sunny position with well drained soil.
Water well though summer, tip prune for
compact bushy growth and liquid feed every
4-6 weeks — and enjoy the show again next
This old plum on a farm still fruits well.
has five copies of
the NZ Gardener
and five copies
of NZ House and Garden
magazines to give away this
The NZ House and Garden
features a former Catholic
church converted into a
house, a family home on a
500 square metre section
and some delicious Autumn
baking and meal ideas.
New Zealand Gardener
this month has a Canterbury
garden with only New
Zealand native and raised
plants, how to build a
firewood storage unit, and
making your own potato
To enter the draw your entries must include your name,
address and phone number.
Send them to.—
C/o Greymouth Star
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with garden in the subject line.
One entry per household. Entries close on May 14.
Apples are a universal favourite.
A prize-winning basket of fruit at an autumn horticultural show.
Espaliered fruit trees require diligent pruning to keep their shape.
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