Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Moving a Tree or Shrub

Some shrubs and trees won't survive root damage if moved, but most make a good recovery if handled carefully, and moved when comparatively dormant.

Midwinter is the safest time for most. Exceptions are semi-tropical or warmth loving trees such as gardenias, acalyphas, and, in cool districts, hibiscus and citrus. The latter two would be best moved in early spring, when the worst of the cold is over but before new growth starts.

Move conifers in late autumn. Winter is second choice, and fairly safe. They move comparatively easily if not too large.

Trees that rarely survive moving include many native eucalypti, wattles, most grevilleas, banksias, pittosporums, and imports such as luculia, virgilia, bauhinia, daphne, diosmas, etc.

The surest are the deciduous trees moved when dormant, but many hard leafed evergreens are also reasonably safe: Camellias, citrus, cotoneaster, azaleas, holly, hibiscus, most viburnums, rhaphiolepis, abelias, oleanders. The last two, especially, need to be cut fairly well back.

With care, very large trees can be moved successfully. In Japan, a small forest of native ginkgos was moved to landscape the Olympic Games, but there is a limit to the size of tree worth moving, especially for the home gardener.

Apart from effort and manpower needed, the shock may be so great, that although the tree survives, it makes poor growth and never picks up.

Large trees should be conditioned gradually before a move. Mark a circle around them with a radius about four times the diameter of the trunk. Divide the circle into six or eight segments, and remove the soil in about a foot-wide trench from alternate segments.

The trenched sections are refilled with well-composted soil and fertilizer after jagged roots have been cleanly trimmed. Three to six months later, trench the remaining segments and treat as the first.

The soil within this circle is kept well watered, and new root growth mats in it. Later, a wide trench can be made outside this area, the newly formed root ball wrapped in hessian, base roots severed, and the tree finally lifted.

This is rather too involved for most home gardeners, but there is a modified version. For example, roots of the tree to be moved, could be severed gradually.

First place a few short stakes to mark a circle round the trunk, its radius about four times the trunk's diameter. Thus a tree with a trunk 3 inches across would be surrounded by a circle 12 inches in radius or 24 inches diameter - involving quite a weight of soil.

Small Trees

Plants such as thin-stemmed, tall camellias should have this circle a minimum of 7 inches from the trunk. Young camellias could be lifted right away, but for more doubtful ones, try this: Spade down almost vertically, but sloping slightly under the plant, to full spade depth, at alternate spacings around the circle. The idea is to cut half the lateral roots.

A few months later, if it is a safe time to make the move, spade the entire circle again, this time an inch or so outside rather than inside the mark.

Where the soil ball is only about 14 inches across, the plant usually can be lifted by spading around again and levering up gradually. Slip the root ball on to a sheet of canvas or hessian and carry the plant on this to its new prepared site. The new hole needs to be 1 foot wider than the root ball, or there will be no room to pack properly with soil, and dry air spaces may prevent new roots from developing. Make sure that the tree is not replanted deeper than before.

Larger Trees and Shrubs

Here, the depth of the initial spading needs to be deeper - about the same as the radius of the surrounding cut. This calls for a trench rather than spade cuts.

Most deciduous trees can be dug and moved safely in one operation, but for large evergreens it is safer to trench about halfway around the tree, taking out a segment on either side. Cut large roots cleanly with a pruning saw.

Fill in for at least a few months, then open the complete trench when ready to move the tree. This trench will need to be widened to 18 inches or so in two or three sections, allowing room to spade under and cut roots below the soil ball.

Also, cut well down on one side, forming a ramp so the tree can be manoeuvred out more easily.

After cutting in well under the root ball, rock the plant on to one side. Try moving it by levering below the root ball with a stout pole, using a wide piece of board to spread its force so it doesn't bite into soil and roots.

Once the tree is movable, rock it on to a sheet of canvas or hessian and drag it out. The correct procedure is to wrap the root ball carefully in hessian, then bind with stout ropes which are tied to a hessian-bound part of the trunk. Lash lengths of timber under these ropes as carriers.

If the move is only a short one, the tree can be half dragged, half carried on a bag without elaborate wrapping.

You can spade off a fair amount of the outer soil on deciduous trees, but for evergreens keep the root ball as intact as possible.

Points to note: Whether a tree is dormant or not, you must keep the roots moist during the move. If there is any delay, hose frequently with a fine spray, or cover with wet sacking.

When moving a plant, the soil should be just damp. The root ball will then hold together easily.

When a plant's root area has been suddenly reduced, it will have a better chance of survival if the top growth is pruned back to reduce foliage. This lessens the demand on the roots.

Remove about two-thirds of the foliage of a large evergreen, pulling leaves off it you don't want to cut branches. Remove young, sappy growth, as this is the most demanding - although the move should be carried out before this appears.

Young evergreens such as camellias won't need pruning if moved carefully.

Vigorous top canes of deciduous trees are usually shortened by two-thirds.

Roots of azaleas and rhododendrons are close to the surface. In this case spade well out, if possible almost to below the outer foliage, but go down only about 5 inches. Then slant in nearly laterally below the plant.

Lift gradually all round until it moves freely, then slide on to a sheet of galvanised iron or a wide board.

Friday, November 1, 2019

A New Taste in Vegetables

Some of the more unusual vegetables - capsicums, eggplant, dwarf tomatoes - not only add variety to the menu but are ornamental enough to use in rockeries, balcony pots, and planter boxes.

Here are some interesting vegetables:

Capsicums (sweet peppers)

One of the most popular varieties is Californian Wonder, a medium-sized green fruit that later turns red. Sweet Yellow is another prolific type, very mild.

Capsicums need just an average, well drained soil and an open, sunny position. A little well-rotted compost and about l-3rd cup to the sq. yd. of complete plant food would help.

Seed can be sown in boxes of crumbly soil or seed-raising mixture, and planted out about 18 inches apart when seedlings are about 3 inches high. As usually only a few plants are needed, they also can be sown in compressed peat pots, and kept on a windowsill or other sheltered position, then moved into full sunlight after germination. Sow two/three seeds per pot, later thin out to one or two.

You can sow direct - three or four seeds every 18 inches, covered with 1/4 inch crumbly soil or compost. Pat down, keep moist. Up to three weeks to germinate. Keep well watered. When flowering commences, feed fortnightly with soluble plant food. If leaves or fruit develop brown spots during wet (or over watering), spray with bordeaux mixture.

Chinese cabbage

The leaves are like lettuce, the stems resemble celery. Cooked like cabbage, it tastes somewhere between cabbage and spinach.

Grown through autumn and winter, they make hearts like large lettuce. In spring and early summer, they tend to run up to seed, but the side leaves are still edible. The sliced leaf stems at this stage are used in Chinese dishes.


This was once grown mainly for the long, parsnip-like root which were dried and added to coffee. Now it is appreciated for the young shoots and leaves. These are blanched by wrapping or covering, and used as a flavorsome addition to salads.

Mature plants have attractive little flowers like pale blue cornflowers. Chicory is easily grown, requiring similar conditions to carrots - a moderate soil, with a little complete plant food added. Leaf growth may be encouraged by watering occasionally with soluble plant foods.


The plants are attractive when carrying the large, shiny, purple-black fruits. Of various ways to eat these, the most popular one seems to be slicing, sprinkling with salt, and frying.

They are grown similarly to capsicums, but need longer to mature, so are not suitable for cool climates with short summers, without glasshouses.


The chopped foliage and young stems add appetizing flavor to potato salads or white sauces. Dill seeds give flavor to gherkins. The fleshy root is also used as a vegetable or flavoring for stews, etc. Dill grows in average soil.

Add a little complete plant food and scatter seeds thinly along a row, cover about 1/8 inch deep. Firm down and keep moist. Seedlings come through in about ten days. Thin out to about 6 inches apart. Use the foliage from the time they are about 1 feet high.


Leeks are tasty as a boiled vegetable. They are sown in summer to mature in winter. Seedlings are raised in seed beds or boxes. Firm into good contact with the soil. When 4 or 5 inches high, transplant about 4 inches apart in the bottom of 4 inches trenches in good, well fertilized soil. Only the green foliage is left showing.

As growth progresses, the trenches are filled in, and eventually the soil is hilled around them, encouraging maximum length of blanched bulb.

Snake beans

Snake beans are a pleasant change from the ordinary french beans, and easily grown. Being climbers, they are sown along a trellis or a wire-netting covered sunny fence. The long, thin, string-like beans are chopped into sections and lightly cooked.

Dwarf tomatoes

Dwarf tomatoes such as Tiny Tim or Epoch are heavy croppers and pleasantly flavored. The first is only cherry size, and adds a decorative touch and pleasant flavor to salads. They are small enough to grow in large pots.

Egg tomatoes are easy to grow, fairly disease resistant. Modern types have pleasant flavor and are very meaty. Treat tomatoes like capsicums. Parsley prefers the same lime-free soil, can be grown at base of plants.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Home-grown Vegetables

The main standby lines to sow in spring for summer harvest are beans, beetroot, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, marrows, squash, pumpkin, melons, parsnips, radish, silver beet, and tomatoes.

Add for interest, sweet corn, capsicums, eggplant, okra, mustard and cress, and some new varieties among the old range. One is spaghetti marrow, which grows like a marrow but cooks like tender, pleasantly flavored spaghetti.

It is also worth growing a row of dill, which gives an appetizing, tangy flavor when chopped like parsley in potato salad, savories, or sauces - the flavor in dill pickles that changes pickled cucumbers to appetizing gherkins.

Being a quick-growing annual, dill may not find a place in the main herb garden. Just sow direct, then thin out the fine-foliage plants to about 6 inches apart. Use leaves and young stems once the plants are 12/18 inches high.


Eggplant is decorative and different. The large, oval, shiny purple-skinned fruits can be used in many ways. One is to slice, salt, then fry golden brown.

Eggplant grows in all but very cold districts with short summers.

Sow in seed boxes or pots, and keep in a warm, sunny corner. Plant out when about 2 inches high, once frosts are over, in a fairly sunny, well-drained soil, with about half cup to sq. yd. of complete plant food, mixed in before planting.

If available, add about 1 inch layer of well-rotted compost and dig in with the fertilizer. Give two or three good soakings each week, but let the surface dry out between times, without surface watering. Feed fortnightly with soluble, complete plant foods as fruits form.


Capsicums are wonderful for salads, barbecues, and savory dishes. Grow as for eggplant. They can get a fungus disease causing brown spotting of fruit and foliage in humid conditions. Control with bordeaux spray.

Californian Wonder, which changes from green to red, and Sweet Yellow, a long, mild, creamy yellow, are popular.


Tomatoes also need similar treatment and conditions. The large-fruited, tall growing types such as Grosse Lisse or College Challenger are best on stakes.

Semi-dwarf types such as Epoch have small to medium-sized fruit, and small, sturdy bushes that would grow in large pots on balconies or terraces.

Tiny Tim is smaller still, and looks comfortable in 4 inches or 5 inches pots. The fruits are in cherry-sized clusters and look well served whole.


Spaghetti marrow grows on a vine that runs no more than about 6 feet. The creamy yellow fruits can be 10 inches long and about half as wide. Smaller ones can be boiled whole, others cut in halves. After 15 to 20 minutes' cooking, the yellowish flesh is lifted out in spaghetti-like strings. It tastes something like well-buttered sweet corn.

All marrows and squashes are easy to grow once the soil warms up in spring. Give them a well-drained, sunny position, some complete fertilizer and compost (as for eggplant). A little lime helps if the soil is inclined to be acid. (A shovelful of incinerator ash to the sq. yd. could substitute.)

Some people plant vine crops on "hills," which is a good system. Don't make high mounds, but rake up circular rims of soil about 2 feet across, dished in the center. Six or eight seeds are sown round the raised rim, then thinned out to the three strongest. Give frequent soakings in the early stages, less when fruit begins to set.

All the bush marrows are worth growing, especially for cooking whole while up to about 5 inches long, when they have their best flavor. The same applies to golden bush squash about 3 inches across.


Okra is different. The 3 feet to 4 feet bushes carry an abundance of fruits like small, fleshy, dull green marrows, held erect. Pick these regularly or they become stringy. Okra is used as a green, but is often cooked with tomatoes to add thickening and flavor. The sliced young pods cook to a jelly-like mass, so are also used for thickening stews, etc.

Sow okra direct, in rows, with soil prepared as for marrows. Give a fair amount of water.

Sweet corn

Sweet corn is delicious if cooked when just mature - when the silky tassels at the top of the cob have withered. When a grain is punctured it should exude a creamy substance. If thin and milky, it has not matured enough: if dry, is too old, and not worth eating.

Soil as for marrows. Sow corn in a block of 4 or 5 short rows, to give protection to the tassels and help pollination. If pollination is faulty, the cob won't be filled with grain. Soak regularly in hot, dry conditions.


Beans are a wonderful standby and give a good, quick yield. Give half cup of complete plant food to each yard of row, spread about a foot on either side, and half cup lime, unless naturally limy.

Sow 2 seeds about 1 inch apart, every 5 inches. Soak with soluble, complete plant food as beans set on the plants.

Sow an 8 feet to 10 feet row each fortnight and have fresh beans all summer. All varieties are suitable for September/October planting.

Early Planting Vegetables

Vegetables such as lettuce, carrots, beetroot, and spring onions will mature in about 3 months' time during warmer weather when salad vegetables will be in demand.

Carrots need two and a half to three and a half months to mature. Top weight is one of the most popular varieties, quick-growing and resistant to virus.

Radishes are quick workers and mature fully in a month to six weeks from seed-growing.

White turnips take two and a half to three months and swedes three and a half to four and a half months.

Kohlrabi takes two and a half to three months to reach full size. It should not be left to become too mature as it will become woody and inedible.

Onions and leeks are long-season crops and take up to seven months to mature, but young onions may be pulled when they reach pencil size for salads.

Cabbages, cauliflowers, and broccoli vary in maturity from four to six months, as also do parsnips, celery, and salsify (oyster plant).

Silver beet takes two to three months to reach harvesting size, depending upon the soil fertility and your treatment. It can be helped along by fortnightly feeding with a liquid fertilizer.

In the coldest climates vegetables planted at this time of year would be limited to white turnips, onions, carrots, and beetroot.

Lettuces grow well during winter in all but the very coldest areas and may be sown in the open throughout the year.

Peas are usually sown in cool districts from spring to autumn; in temperate areas from autumn to early summer; and in sub-tropical places during autumn and winter.

Rotational cropping - making sure that members of one particular family of vegetables are not continually grown in the same plot - is helpful, especially in a small garden, but it's not as important as it used to be before the introduction of complete fertilizers.

These quickly replace what preceding crops have removed from the soil.

The ideal rotation would be leaf crop, root crop, legumes - for example, lettuce, carrots, beans, then tomatoes or potatoes before this cycle is repeated. It is better not to follow tomatoes with potatoes, as they are of the same family and susceptible to some of the same diseases.

How to Care for Succulents

Growing Succulents

These remarkable plants, modified by nature to withstand drying winds, blistering sun, severe cold, and long drought, nevertheless appreciate a little care and understanding.

Succulent and Cactus

Succulent is a fairly loose title applied to any plant with fleshy leaves and steins capable of storing water to tide the plant over lean periods.

Nature has modified these plants to lose very little moisture to the atmosphere, and to store reserves in their thickened stems or leaves.

All cacti belong to the one botanical family - distinguished by the fact that all have groups of spines that radiate from regularly spaced hairy or woolly sections known as areolas. The breathing pores of the plant are protected below this woolly covering.

In the Epiphyllums (strap cactus) or Zygocactus (crab's claw) these areolas, less obvious than on the desert varieties, are tucked away in the notches of the stems, or between stem segments. Although size of bloom varies greatly, all cacti have the same characteristic flower formation at the end of a fleshy, pear-like ovary or fruit.

So, technically, a succulent may or may not be a cactus, but you can refer to a cactus or any other plant of similar nature as a succulent.

Most of the true cacti originate from American desert regions, but are not necessarily exposed to the full fierceness of the sun. Many of the smaller types grow in the part shade of the tall cereus or candle cactus, of sparse desert shrubbery, or sheltered by craggy rocks.

So, in the garden or indoors, they need plenty of light, but not necessarily full sunlight. Under poorly lighted indoor conditions they become drawn and thin, sometimes weirdly elongated when in shade for a long time.

Desert soils are sandy or gritty and water drains away rapidly, but usually they are well supplied with organic matter from spent annual growth that matures rapidly in the showery season.

These low-rainfall desert areas are usually rather limy. Most garden loams can be made more suitable for cacti by raking in a 1 inch layer of coarse river sand or twice this amount if the loam is heavy.

A good pottery mixture would be about 2 parts medium garden loam, 2 parts coarse river sand, 1 part well-rotted compost. Unless the soil is limy, add about 2 teaspoons of garden lime or dolomite to each 2 gallons bucket of soil mixture.

Use at least 1 inch of broken crocks or coke in the base of the container to ensure good drainage, making sure that this material doesn't block the holes.

See that the plant isn't covered deeper than its previous level. Set it with its base at soil level, about 1/2 inch below rim of pot.

Firm it well, then scoop about 3/4 inch of soil from round the rim so water drains quickly away from the stem. Prevent the soil from leveling out by covering with about 1/2 inch of scree - blue-metal screenings, small pebbles, or crushed tile.

This surface covering also stops soil from splashing on to the stem of the plant and causing stem rot.

Most fleshy-leafed succulents also respond to the conditions suggested for cacti, although some also tolerate comparatively moist conditions in a well drained garden soil. Roughly, it is the grey- or downy-leafed types that need best drainage and limy conditions.


Water is needed most when new growth starts. In succulents, new shoots are an obvious indication of this. Cacti usually show brighter-colored new spines.

Many succulents from Africa and the Mediterranean areas make new growth in winter. With cactus it is more frequently in spring, and at this time the plants will benefit from watering two or three times a week.

Wet the soil in the containers evenly. If the plant has been dry for some time, stand the container for about ten minutes in a bucket of water. Let the soil dry out between waterings. True cacti especially need little more than a fortnightly watering during their dormant period, which is usually in winter.


Avoid heavy feeding. Slow acting bone-dust or cotton-seed-based fertilizers such as rose foods or seedling starters are ideal - a level teaspoon scattered round the edge of a 5 inches pot and scratched in lightly. In early spring.


Small, rapidly growing plants are best repotted each year, more mature plants every two to three years, preferably in early spring. Containers shouldn't be more than a couple of inches wider than the plant's spread, as the surplus soil is too slow to dry out.

A painless way to handle prickly plants is to fold a length of paper into a band, encircling them with this, and using the surplus ends like a cup handle. Pack soil round the plant with a pencil.


The usual method for branching succulents is by cutting. Use pieces of any length, cut cleanly with a sharp knife or razor-blade to avoid bruising. Leave fleshy stems for a few days until the cut section dries out.

Pot in a sandy, well-drained mixture with a minimum of water for the first few weeks. Some succulents form plant lets at the base of severed leaves left to rest on a bed of sandy soil.

Cacti are usually propagated by removing "pups" or new divisions that form round the plants. Large sections can be cut from tall types such as cereus. Don't bury them too deeply, but tie to a stake with the dried-out cut section covered by about 2 inches of sandy soil.

Raising cacti from seed can be fascinating. Scatter the seeds thinly, press into the surface of shallow trays of 3 parts sand 1 of moistened peat moss; or of seed-raising mixture. When about small-pea size, transplant about 1 inch apart in seed trays or boxes. Pot individually the second year.

Pests and Diseases

Mealy bug is the worst enemy of cacti and some succulents - a small, downy, white-aphis-like pest found in ridges of the plant at the base of the spines, sometimes in the roots. Small infestations are controlled by touching them with a camelhair brush dipped in denatured alcohol. It is best to repot.

Control widespread attacks by spraying with rogor or malathion, adding about a teaspoon of household detergent to each quart of spray. Also water round each plant to wet the roots thoroughly.

Red spider or similar mites may also attack cacti or succulents, especially when under cover in a dry atmosphere. Symptom is a dull, lustreless or mottled appearance. Spray as for mealy bug.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

10 Tropical Fruits to Grow in Your Garden

Tropical Fruits to Grow in Your Garden

Tropical fruits appeal to temperate climate gardeners because of their challenge. It is a thrill to grow them successfully outside their environment.

1. Avocado

A handsome tree of about 20 feet, with dark green, leathery foliage. The green, pear-shaped fruits, unlike other fruits, are filled with vegetable fat. Its flesh is a delicacy for savories and salads.

Avocados are often grown from their large seed, planted large end down, in moist, sandy, or peaty soil, preferably in spring or summer.

Or start one by supporting a seed with paper in the neck of a jar of water (broad base of the seed just touching the water). Kept in a warm room or cupboard, it usually makes root in three or four weeks. Carefully transfer then to potting soil.

A second variety is usually needed as a pollinator to set fruit. If growing for fruit, it is better to buy grafted, named varieties from Queensland nurserymen, as seedlings vary.

Avocados prefer a good soil with compost and occasional dressings of complete plant food, and tropical or semi-tropical conditions, but can succeed in temperate coastal areas in a sheltered, north-east aspect.

2. Bananas

Bananas grow in many soils and conditions in tropical to temperate climates free from heavy frost. The clumps are decorative as long as old plants and dead leaves are removed.

Grown mainly for fruit, they are best on a warm, north-eastern slope with at least an annual dressing of complete fertilizer, and regular watering. Some types, sugar bananas especially, will grow in sedgy areas where few other plants survive.

Only the ornamental Abyssinian banana produces seed, after which the plant dies. The seedless fruiting varieties also die after bearing, but are replaced by suckers from the base of the plant. By replanting these suckers, new clumps are propagated.

Thin out surplus suckers to avoid over-crowding. About six plants per clump is adequate. Old trees after fruiting are cut off at ground level.

3. Custard Apple

Custard apple or cherimoya (Annona cherimola). There are several types of custard apple, but this is one of the best and most likely to succeed in fringe areas. It makes a large shrub or small tree with green, nearly heart shaped fruit to 4 pounds in weight. They may fall and crush if left to ripen on the tree, so pick them when the ridges in the skin turn a creamy color, and store until soft. The flesh then has a sweet, custard-like texture.

Custard apples will grow from seed and, in warm, moist climates, bear about five years. Budded plants from northern nurseries are the most reliable. All varieties survive without pruning, except perhaps to remove old, woody branches.

4. Guavas

Decorative and easy to grow in tropical and fairly frost-free, temperate areas, they've become less popular because of fruit fly.

The yellow guava, Psidium guajava has the largest fruits, but Psidium cattleyanum or strawberry guava is the most attractive tree, with smooth, decorative trunk and rounded head of shiny, dark foliage.

Feijoa or pineapple guava is a very adaptable tree, even in fairly frosty inland areas. Growth and flower is similar to its relative, the New Zealand Christmas bush, but more striking.

The large, greenish, guava-like fruit of the feijoa fall in early autumn before they are properly ripe. Store them in a dark, airy place until they develop a characteristic pineapple aroma. Very susceptible to fruit fly.

5. Granadilla

A vigorous passion vine with large flowers and glossy yellow "passion fruit" almost the size and shape of a Rugby football. Rarely succeed outside the tropics.

6. Monstera

Grown mainly for the decorative effect of their huge, leathery, green, perforated foliage. The long, green fruits take from 8 to 18 months to ripen, depending on climate and conditions. A definite pineapple aroma indicates ripeness. Also, the skin tends to lift at the bottom of the fruit, which may fall from the plant. It ripens an inch or two each day. If eaten above this point, it may irritate the mouth.

Monsteras grow best in a warm, sheltered position with plenty of water in summer. They are adaptable, but container-grown plants won't tolerate continuously wet soil in cold weather.

7. Mango

An attractive evergreen tree of 20 to 30 feet, with slender, dark green, leathery foliage. Varieties are selected mainly for combination of flavor and freedom from fiber in the aromatic, pear shaped fruits.

Mangoes grow and bear fruit in tropical to warm temperate coastal areas, but cropping can vary, especially among seedlings. Wet weather at flowering time can cause crop failure. Fungus attacks the flower under these conditions.

Seeds will germinate in a mixture of moist sand and peat moss. Some growers remove the husk before planting. One seed may produce several seedlings, which are carefully separated when repotting. For best results, sow seeds soon after removal from the fruit.

8. Macadamia

The Queensland nut tree makes a handsome specimen 15 to 25 feet tall, with dark, glossy green, slightly serrated foliage. Flowers hang in slender feathery, cream clusters from inside the canopy of foliage. The nuts are the hardest shelled, but among the world's best.

Macadamias grow best in tropical and warm coastal temperate districts, but once established have some frost resistance. Propagate by seed. Most nurseries carry established plants.

9. Papaw

Papaws are among the most decorative tropical fruit trees, carrying an umbrella of large hand-shaped foliage on a palm-like, slender trunk. They grow quickly from seed, and in a good moist and warm frost-free environment will flower and set fruit the first year.

Apart from a bisexual variety occasionally available, only the female papaw sets fruit and needs a nearby male plant for pollination - distinguishable only when flowering. Males have long sprays of orange blossom-like flowers; female flowers are larger, set close to the stem.

It is practical and decorative to set 4 or 5 plants about 5 feet apart in a clump, then to thin all males but one. Trees naturally die out after bearing for a couple of years, so add a few new plants to the colony each year.

10. Pineapples

Pineapples are best in warm districts with good, well-drained, light loamy soils. Plants propagate from suckers at the base of the old plant. They make one fruit per plant in one to two years. You can strike the top sliced from a pineapple, but this plant usually takes several years to fruit.

Other fruit trees adaptable to the tropics include all citrus, passion fruit, pomegranates, persimmon, fig, mulberry, to some extent peach, especially types such as Flat China, and a variety of apple known as Tropical Beauty.

Thinning out the fruit trees

Thinning fruit trees

Many fruit trees are biennial bearing; that is to say they will bear a lot of fruit one year and very little the next. Though it may reduce the total weight of fruit in a given year, some judicious thinning out will increase the size, color and quality and at the same time encourage regular bearing.

Thinning out is more easily done with a pair of long-handled pruners on a taller tree, by hand if the fruit is within reach. Remove all the misshapen or diseased fruit first then the smallest of a cluster to leave one or two fruit on each twig.

Some varieties of apples, for example, Granny Smith are self thinning in most years but Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, Spartan and Gala will all benefit from this procedure.

Life in the garden is often a balance of one thing against another. The practice of good culture and garden hygiene does much to diminish a lot of problems but some insect pests and diseases are in evitable and steps have to be taken to control them.

Cherries are the main host of Pear and Cherry slug which begins to make an appearance at this time of year particularly in cool moist weather, however, apples, pears, plums and many other ornamental plants are also affected.

The dark slimy slug-like larvae feed from the leaf tissue before falling to the ground to pupate before a second and even more destructive generation appears in mid summer. Insecticides used to control them now will greatly reduce a more serious problem later on.

Powdery mildew quickly affects a number of fruiting and ornamental plants. In the vegetable garden the cucurbits - cucumbers, zucchine and squash, are particularly prone unless you have planted resistant varieties.

Early morning rather than late day watering by the drip system instead of over-head sprays will not cure it, but may assist in control. Steps should be taken as soon as the first signs are evident other wise the result is extensive damage to crops. Combination sprays which contain sulfur are a useful means of control.

Keep vegetable crops on the move with regular application of liquid fertilizers. Lettuce plants should mature quickly to remain crisp and sweet: slow growth usually results in a bitter flavor to the leaf.

Endive which is related to chicory is an interesting alternative. Similar in appearance and grown much the same way as lettuce, it can be planted later in the season for harvest in autumn.

Potatoes should be earthed up regularly to protect the haulm, produce a bigger crop and prevent any of the tubers from being exposed to the light and turning green. Ridge up the soil on both sides of the plants to leave a V-shaped trench between rows.

Continue to plant clumps or drifts of summer-flowering annuals where there are gaps in the shrub borders. Pansies are still flowering well and may be kept in bloom even longer if they are dead headed regularly. Any holes which have appeared in the petals are usually caused by earwigs.

Though carbaryl sprays are normally effective, the pests may be trapped in match boxes filled with damp straw or rotted leaves and disposed of later.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Fruit Tree Pruning

Fruit Tree Pruning

Pruning fruit trees is the proper regulation of the branches to encourage the production of blossom and the maturing of heavy crops of good fruit.

Many fruits will crop heavy enough without much attention but the quality is often poor. If the pruning is too severe the tree will grow to wood instead of fruit.

On the other hand if the branches are left too thick they overshadow those below them excluding light and air and encouraging a great growth of leaves but little fruit.

It is necessary when pruning to have a good knowledge of the fruit-bearing wood of the different kinds of fruit trees and to be able to form an early judgment of the future productiveness of the various branches and shoots.

This can only be obtained by practice and observation.

Winter is the best time to prune, but a judicious thinning out of the young shoots may sometimes be done in the autumn. But it must be done late in the season so that there will not be a further growth of fresh shoots.

Any shoots that are pruned in the autumn should be cut above the fourth bud so that they can again be cut back to the second bud in the winter.

When a stock is budded or grafted it will throw a long straight stem the first year. On this the future head is to be formed. In the following winter this should be cut down to a height of about two feet above the ground, unless of course the young tree has already formed a proper head.

Be careful to cut just above a good strong bud. The tree will then throw out a number of shoots just below the cut. Of these only the three strongest and best regulated, usually the highest ones, should be retained, cutting all others off close to the stem during the summer so as to give the full benefit of the sap to the remaining three shoots.

After they have been planted a few weeks these side shoots should be cut back to within a foot or more according to the strength of the branch and just above a strong bud pointing outwards.

This simple way of pruning, carried out for four years will give a well shaped tree of semi upright form with short stem.

Tall trees are to be condemned for they catch the wind and do not sufficiently shade the stem and roots.

They are difficult to prune and spray and also to pick and regulate the fruit.

The various kinds of apples, pears, plums, etc., vary somewhat in their habit of growth. Climate and soils also affect their vigor. To obtain the best results from the trees pruning should be varied to suit these conditions.

9 Fruits to Grow in Your Garden

Fruits to Grow in Your Garden

The smaller your garden, the more important it is to select fruit trees that give the greatest value.

Deciduous fruit trees have an added advantage, in a small garden of letting the sun through their leafless branches in winter.

1. Peaches

Peaches do well in all but coldest districts. They fruit on new wood made the previous summer, and need pruning each winter so flowering or fruiting wood doesn't go skyward, and so sap is evenly distributed.

In fruit-fly districts, spray all but early varieties with rogor (check with the rogor label), at five, four, and one week before fruit ripens. Ripening time is governed by variety; or, roughly, when fruit is half-size.

Alternatively, for fruit fly splash a square foot or two of foliage each week with a bait lure of 4 teaspoons of protein hydrolysate with 2 teaspoons of malathion wettable powder 25, and a cup of water.

Spray with fungicide just before bud swell to control curly leaf, and periodically until fruiting to check brown rot of fruit.

Peaches are self pollinating, so only one tree is necessary. They usually begin fruiting in the second or third year from planting.

2. Plums

Plums crop on spurs forming on the old wood, so need little pruning after except initial shaping and thinning. Pest and disease control as for peaches. Most varieties need another type for successful pollination, except Santa Rosa, which is also a pollinator for other Japanese plum varieties.

3. Apricots

Apricots are between peaches and plums, bearing on both old and new wood. The old wood does not need pruning back and fruiting spurs should be thinned to keep trees bearing well. Apricots are subject to similar pests and diseases to peaches, but are sensitive to sprays such as rogor. They are self pollinating.

4. Apples

Apples suit cold to warmer-temperate districts. They crop mainly on old wood, so need little more than initial shaping, and occasional thinning of growth. Heavy pruning causes over-vigorous, unproductive top growth.

They are subject to fruit fly, usually within six weeks of ripening, and are also attacked by codling moth.

Arsenate of lead sprayed when petals fall is recommended for the initial spray, then fortnightly sprayings with carbaryl.

Some types, such as Granny Smith, may set a reasonable crop without another pollinator, but a pollinator is desirable. Some nurseries graft 2 or 3 varieties to one tree to overcome this problem. Apples usually need about five years to settle down and bear well.

5. Pears

Pears like conditions and treatment similar to apples, but growth is usually erect, making a tall, pyramid-shaped tree. They usually take five to eight years to bear.

6. Figs

Figs grow in cool-to-tropical climates, with a preference for temperate areas, although they stand severe inland heat providing roots can reach seepage or other moisture. Apart from initial shaping they need no pruning, and all but Smyrna figs are self pollinating. They can fruit in 2 to 3 years.

7. Persimmons

Persimmon trees rarely more than 12 feet high with foliage that colors beautifully in autumn. The rich, pulpy fruits come in late summer or autumn, often bearing the second year from planting. Named varieties, sold as grafted plants, are self pollinating. Seedlings may need another type close by to bear well.

8. Papaws

Papaws are palm-like trees 8 to 15 feet high with large, shapely foliage. Male trees have small flowers on branching stems, flowers of female or fruit-bearing trees are larger, and set close. You need one male tree for pollination.

Papaws are tropical, but grow in sub-tropics and sometimes bear in warm, sheltered parts of the temperate coast. Plants die after bearing for several years.

9. Citruses

Citruses are probably the least demanding, although to get in good crop it is worth feeding with a citrus fertilizer, complete garden food, or fowl manure, in spring, early to mid-summer, and autumn. Otherwise, their main need is good drainage and at least 2/3 sunlight.

Oranges need little or no pruning, lemons progressive pruning, cutting back the old, fruit-carrying twigs to a sturdy young growth. Thorny mandarins are also pruned back to about the third shoot from fruit, when finished.