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Canberra Today 19°/22° | Monday, January 24, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Getting the most from fresh fruit 

Fruit fly damage on peaches. Photo: Jackie Warburton

Gardening writer JACKIE WARBURTON shares some tips in stretching the shelf life of summer fruits. 

EARLY to mid-January is when my peaches and nectarines are ripe and ready for picking, but this season I’ve spotted an initial issue with fruit fly.

Jackie Warburton.

I’ve removed the damaged fruit and kept an eye on the rest of the fruit still on the tree. 

Around two days before fully ripe, I pick the fruit as early as possible in the morning and when it is well coloured and firm. I put the picked fruit straight into the crisper of the fridge to lower the core temperature as soon as possible because for every two hours above 25C, its shelf-life is reduced by two days. 

I take the fruit out of the fridge 24 hours before I want to use it and let it ripen on the bench. This practice keeps my fruit stored for at least two or three months in the fridge and when I am sick of eating it, I make a lovely, cold, fruit soup. 

SOWING autumn and winter vegetables can begin now. Sow beetroot, carrots, leeks and turnips directly into the ground. Lightly cover with soil and water in. 

THIS summer has been wetter than we are used to and the result of extra rain will show in trees and plants even weeks or months after the damage has occurred. 

Our clay soils hold moisture and if garden drainage is not good, water sits around the root zone of the plants, reducing oxygen the plant needs to grow and suffocating the plant roots into a slow and dying death. 

One symptom of wet feet is that the leaves will wilt and sulk. At this stage most people will water more because of the wilting and sad looks, but don’t.

Use a garden fork and gently poke around the drip zone of the plant to get air into the soil and move some ground water so the roots can move and grow. 

Other indicators of wet feet are seeing one largish branch dieback on a shrub or all of the leaves of a plant, new or old, are yellow and pale. There are many anti-rot products on the market that work, so it’s just a matter of researching which one is best for the plant that needs reviving. 

MUSHROOMS are around now as the weather conditions are perfect for them to grow. They are the fruiting bodies of mycelium under the ground as a result of decomposition of dead material and nature is doing its thing improving the soil. 

If there is a ring of mushrooms in the lawn or an abnormal circle of turf growth, it would more than likely be a “fairy ring”, which is commonly found on lawns where there is a high level of organic matter under the turf. Remove them with a turf fungicide, core and aerate the soil. 

SUMMER pruning of roses is essential to further blooms in the autumn. Fertilise with a rose fertiliser and water in. The roses have responded well to the rain and there will be more flowers. 

Essentially, a rose bush should be a vase shape. Make sure the leaves in the centre of the bush are removed to help with the air flow and keep any fungal diseases away. 

Wisteria vines can also have a summer prune, taking back most of this year’s side shoots to about 5-6 buds and then, in winter, cut them back further to 2-3 buds. This pruning will keep their prolific growth at bay. 

Chihuly glasswork at Floriade in 1999. Photo: Jackie Warburton

WITH 2022 being the International Year of Glass, it brings back memories of the wonderful masterworks in glass by Dale Chihuly at Floriade in 1999. 

The display in the ponds in Commonwealth Park was breathtaking. Although we might not have the talent of Chihuly, glass can be an artistic addition to the garden and a simple leadlight piece can last many years outdoors.

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Jackie Warburton

Jackie Warburton

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