gardening / The priority is to get planting

Quince for delicious paste and jellies.

Quince for delicious paste and jellies.

AS the second month of a very mild winter begins, there is so much to do in the garden, but where to start?

I think the priority is to plant deciduous plants, fruit trees, ornamental flowering trees, berries and more. This year it is highly likely that most, if not all, deciduous plants will be coming into bud and/or flowers much earlier.

Therefore, it’s important to plant while they are still in their dormant stage.

Berry bushes take up little space in the garden. Raspberries are a favourite, although the complaint is they tend to sucker.

The simple answer is to cut off the base of a large plastic pot and completely bury upside-down in the ground. Plant the berry bush in the pot, which will act as a root barrier.

I have just tidied up our strawberry bed, getting rid of weeds, unnecessary runners and applying fresh Lucerne mulch, which will discourage the snails and keep the strawberries clean.

So what is the best strawberry? While there are quite a few varieties available, the tried and tested over many years and my favourite is “Red Gauntlet”, reputedly named after Sir Walter Scott’s book of the same name.

Make sure the plants you buy are certified virus free and if you want to know how to grow luscious strawberries, visit cedricbryant.com and click on Cedfacts.

WHILE there may be new shoots on roses due to the mild winter, do not prune until the end of August/early September. Watch this column for rose and fruit tree demonstrations.

Rambling roses, such as the Banksian roses or Rosa “Dorothy Perkins”, are not pruned until after they have finished flowering in late spring.

FOR fruiting, most fruit trees need two varieties to flower at the same time for the bees to take the pollen from one tree to another.

You can also buy two varieties of the same fruit on the one grafted stem. However, there can be a problem with some fruit, especially apples, in that one variety can grow faster than the other, which can lead to a lopsided tree. Plus if one variety dies you then have to buy another tree to match the survivor.

Most cherry trees require two varieties and, because they grow to large trees, they are almost impossible to cover with nets against birds. The answer is the dwarf “Black Lapin” cherry with dark red-black delicious fruit plus it is self-fertile.

Most plums need two varieties for pollination, although the “Stanley” plum is self-fertile. This is a European freestone with purple skin and yellow-orange flesh. Most peaches, apricots and nectarines are self-fertile.

If you have limited space, check out the dwarf “Trixzie” series of fruit trees. They can also be grown in a large container and include dwarf cherries, apples, nectarine, peach and pears. Most grow to just 2m x 2m or less. Although dwarf trees, the fruit is full size.

Always check with your garden centre to make sure the fruit trees are compatible with each other.

Pineapple guava fruit is super with ice cream.

Pineapple guava fruit is super with ice cream.

TWO fruit trees back in fashion are Cydonia oblonga or Quince, grown for a thousand years and Feijoa sellowiana or Pineapple Guava.

Quince is a favourite because of the popularity of quince paste and jelly conserve made from its fruit. Cydonia “Champion” and “Smyrna” are the two most popular varieties.

I AM now accepting bookings for garden talks to garden clubs and other organisations. I provide these talks free and they always include plenty of good gardening advice. Call me on 6241 8752.

Jottings…

• Cut back kangaroo paws.

• Plant Hippeastrum bulbs (naked ladies) now, keeping the neck of the bulbs out of the ground.

• Carrots like good deep, light soil. One of the best ways is to sow seed in a large plastic pot with soil mixed with 25 per cent washed river sand.

• Did you know that Maxicrop Seaweed Plant Nutrient reduces the effect of frost on plants?

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