Gardening with Rosey M
December 2002

Reproduced from the November issue of The Taita Times

Hi Taita Gardeners,

Well we still are not getting the most settled of weather, and as a result the garden is still very slow to show results. Don't lose heart, as in some areas of the garden things are looking extremely good. I've seen wonderful results from strawberry plants which are now showing their first fruits. You need to get these in about August and make sure that there is plenty of food in the ground or pot you plant them in as they require lots of food and water. Much the same programme for your tomatoes; these should be planted now and a good sprinkling of Blood and Bone mixed into either soil or pots. Do make sure that you can stake these plants as they grow quite tall and in some cases you may need to make a wigwam of canes to support the fruiting laterals once they have developed fruit. Nothing is more discouraging than to have a lovely lot of fruit on your tomatoes and the whole thing collapses because of your supports. For both tomatoes and strawberries use a liquid fertiliser weekly while the plant is in full growth as this will keep your fruit big and juicy.

Your camellias may have finished flowering now and those lovely light green shoots are appearing. Give the bush or tree which ever, a good going over and remove any dead flowers that have settled in the inside of your plant. These are lovely nests for spiders and ants, and can also cause fungus problems if we have a damp spell. Trim out muddled growth and leave some openings in the growth so you can see a little bit of day light. Your rhodes will also be needing a little bit of attention if they have finished flowering and to make good flowering stems for next year and keep plant problems at bay, remove all flowering heads once the colour has gone. At the same time thin out the new growths that sprout up around the old flower head. You'll get a surprise at the result next season.

Bedding Annuals - try and keep these well watered and give a light dressing of potash about a week after you have planted them. If you are hard-hearted enough, remove the centre stem of these plants and you'll get a much fuller plant with more flower heads. Remove all spent blooms from your annuals, and with petunias remove the flower stem after it has shown seed heads. This encourages the plant to set more flower stems. You can get more than one flowering from your pansies by cutting back all the laterals that have flowered. With a feed of Blood and Bone, within a matter of 10 days, you should have new flower laterals showing. If this doesn't happen then your plant is too old and its time clock has passed the point of no return for this to happen. Remember, annuals have to flower and seed in one season to reproduce themselves.

Geraniums and perlagoniums, are great for dry weather and are great in pots. They do need a good drink of water weekly, and you should pick off spent blooms where possible. This encourages new growth and a good covering of flowers. Don't let these plants get old and leggy - long stems with nothing on them except flowers at the very top. Try and keep them bushy and green. Tie in new growth on your perlagoniums. These are the plants people tend to grow around lampposts and fences. Trim any dead bits off as this keeps them fresh and clean. Sprinkle snail bait around the roots of these plants as the beasties love them for dinner.

Prune your wisterias once they have flowered and watch out for borer which loves these plants. Clematis should be pruned back once it's flowered as well or you find it has taken over your garden.

Now that your lawns are looking great, make sure that you water them and don't mow them too short, this can cause a lot of die back in the grass, and the dry weather will cause your lawn to disappear.

Good things in gardening to remember: always get rid of anything that is dead or dying and remove weeds before they seed. If you have success with a method for growing something in your garden, use it. If it works for you don't give your method up. Every garden is different and we all have our own little techniques.

At present my garden is a delight and I'm hoping that it will stay that way. Do keep up the good work in your garden and be sure that others do admire a lovely garden and in your own way you are bringing cheer to others.

Rosey M