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Save the zinnia seeds for next summer

Zinnias… easy to grow and a classic summer annual.  Photo: Jackie Warburton

Gardening columnist JACKIE WARBURTON says zinnias are easy to grow and are a classic summer annual.

Jackie Warburton.

ZINNIA flowers are bright and cheery, running in colour from creams and yellows to pinks and reds. Plant them in full sun, but sheltered from the wind. There are dwarf varieties that don’t need staking.

Harvest the seeds when the flower heads are dry in autumn and place in an envelope or a paper bag to dry over winter and sow again in spring. 

Summer annuals can still be planted but perhaps not from seeds. Get them in now and they might give a display around March when the weather is still quite warm. 

THERE are still jobs to do while the weather is warm, such as summer pruning of fruit trees, roses and wisteria. 

All stone fruit trees  – such as cherries, apricots, almonds, peaches and nectarines – should be pruned on a warm, sunny day after removing the fruit. Here’s how:

  • Sterilise tools with 10 per cent bleach solution or straight metho.
  • Use sharp secateurs and loppers. 
  • Remove dead, diseased and damaged wood.

Trees can have an overall haircut, but don’t cut off more than a third. Pruned wood can be kept and dried to use as kindling or as fuel for a food smoker in winter. 

Some summer pruning of apples and pears (Pome trees) can be done now and up to the next month or so to keep their vigorous growth in check. 

There are two main ways apple trees fruit. They are either tip branch growers or spur growers. Knowing where the fruit is growing will help with pruning the right way to get fruit for next year. 

Apples like a high pH, so add dolomite lime to the soil in winter. Keep trees well-watered while the fruit is still growing and protect them from codling moths. 

I AM still planting herbs and quick-growing lettuces, eggplants and zucchinis for the last of summer. The weather has not been too hot, so my tomatoes are still green. They won’t ripen until we get some hot weather. 

I HAVE planted nasturtiums for a good colour display and this year the cabbage moth has been more pesky than most. I have used Diapel as a natural insecticide that targets caterpillars, and one application has brought the threshold down, so a further application may not be required. 

IN January it is traditionally hot and very little hard pruning should be done to protect plants from scorching in the hot weather. Keeping water up to established gardens and deadheading should be all we need to be doing in the hot months. 

OVER the past month the wet weather has continued and brought storms to a lot of gardens, mainly in the north of Canberra. Storm damage is catastrophic to the plants in the garden, and their owners. Plant recovery in many cases is over a long period and more so for trees. Thankfully, deciduous trees will repair their leaf damage in a season, but evergreens will take a little longer.

Globe artichoke… they like a sunny position and an alkaline soil  Photo: Jackie Warburton

I GROW globe artichokes in my garden, not for eating but for the flowers. Globe artichoke Cynara scolymus are perennial plants and need a bit of room to grow. They like a sunny position and an alkaline soil, so sprinkling a little dolomite lime a few weeks before planting with lots of compost will be a benefit. 

If growing them for eating, then it’s the flower buds that are eaten and if picked when they’re young there’s no need to remove the centre core of the flower bud called “the choke”.

Their prickly foliage is bright grey and great as a contrast accent plant in the garden. 

Another variety that grows well in Canberra is Cardoon cardunculus. It has a similar growth habit to a globe artichoke but with smaller flowers and a more robust plant with thicker leaves. I have seen these at Lanyon Homestead’s vegetable gardens where they grow very well.

There are more of Jackie Warburton’s helpful gardening columns at citynews.com.au 

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Jackie Warburton

Jackie Warburton

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