Gardening | Hints for keeping your trees in top condition – The Maitland Mercury

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news, local-news, Deciduous trees, particularly deciduous fruit trees, should receive some attention at this time of the year. Once they lose their leaves it is much easier to examine the trunks and stems for any damage that may have occurred from attacks by different insects. Loose leaves and bark should be removed from around the base of the tree, as well as branch junctions. This will assist in removing insects that may be harbouring in the loose material. Any damage by borers will be quite evident as trails of a sawdust-like material on the bark's surface. The material should be removed, leaving an indentation in the bark as well as a hole. The borer will be in the bark and can be removed by a number of methods. A piece of flexible wire can be inserted into the hole, locating and destroying the grub. A spray can also be applied to the hole, which can then be sealed with putty or a similar material. A mixture of lime sulphur can be sprayed to all the surfaces of the tree as this will clean up spores, as well as providing a nitrogen supplement. A comprehensive copper spray can be applied to all deciduous plants in the garden, even fruit trees that have not fully lost their leaves. Mealy bugs and scale, which typically gather in the loose bark and can survive there over the winter months, can be removed with white oil. Hydrangea bushes are one of the delights of the summer garden when they become covered in large, flowering heads in shades of pink and blue. The traditional, old-fashioned varieties grow to large bushes, while newer varieties are usually more compact, often with more unusual flowers. Because of the differences in growth, pruning methods for hydrangeas vary according to the actual type of bush and its growth habit. Older varieties can grow quite tall, so they can be pruned harder than other plants. As with most plants, any dead canes should be removed at the base of the plant. The remaining canes can be cut back to a pair of buds, as this will be where the flowers will be produced from in summer. However, if the plant has become very large, it may be beneficial to be more vigorous in an attempt to rejuvenate the plant. In this instance, the canes could be cut back to about a metre from the ground. This will encourage the production of new shoots from the base. However, these canes will take two summers to produce flowers, but the overall result will be a more manageable, productive plant. Modern, smaller growing varieties generally only need to have the old, dead flower heads removed from the canes, cutting them back to a pair of plump buds. Some gardeners prefer to prune their hydrangeas in February, once the summer flowering has finished. In these cases, pruning now will mainly involve the removal of any dead canes. These should be cut off at the base of the plant. However, any canes that did not produce flowers in the last season should not be pruned back as they will flowes next summer. Many vegetable gardens become rather shaded during the winter months, making them less suitable for successful vegetable cultivation. However, this is a good time in which to prepare the soil for summer crops, if winter vegetables haven't been planted out. Any plant material remaining from summer or autumn crops, as well as weeds, can be removed from the bed. Then the soil should be dug over thoroughly. Animal manure, home compost, leaf mulch, seaweed or spent mushroom compost can all be added to the soil as they will replenish the nutrients that have become depleted during the growing seasons. These should be dug in evenly. Bales of spoiled lucerne hay or straw can also be used. After the organic materials have been dug into the soil, lime should be sprinkled over the surface and then covered with light layer of soil. The area should then be watered and left for a week before it is dug again. The soil should be kept damp but not wet. Regular turning over of the soil will ensure that it will be ideal for the planting out of summer crops in spring. Bindiis are one of the main problems that affect summer lawns. The sharp prickles that invade the sole of footwear, as well as causing sharp pain to bare feet are actually the seeds of the plants. The threat of these plant pests is evident now with small, ferny, bright green growths that appear in lawns. The colder months are the ideal time in which to eradicate the plants and they will soon flower and set seed. Once the seeds have formed, the prickly seeds will remain, even if the plant dies. It will also mean that new plants will grow in the following year. Bindiis usually grow in impacted soil, so aerating the soil will assist to reduce the number of plants. A garden fork can be used for this purpose. As the weather warms in spring, the lawn can be fertilised. Chemical sprays are also available for the control of bindiis, but care should be taken in the selection of the sprays as some sprays can cause considerable damage to adjacent shrubs and plants./images/transform/v1/crop/frm/32YmRiivtENukX3prXGk2iY/d64dc3f3-6911-4e9c-8662-4fa3bca54870.jpg/r3_0_1116_629_w1200_h678_fmax.jpgDeciduous trees, particularly deciduous fruit trees, should receive some attention at this time of the year.Once they lose their leaves it is much easier to examine the trunks and stems for any damage that may have occurred from attacks by different insects.Loose leaves and bark should be removed from around the base of the tree, as well as branch junctions. This will assist in removing insects that may be harbouring in the loose material.Any damage by borers will be quite evident as trails of a sawdust-like material on the bark's surface. The material should be removed, leaving an indentation in the bark as well as a hole. The borer will be in the bark and can be removed by a number of methods. A piece of flexible wire can be inserted into the hole, locating and destroying the grub. A spray can also be applied to the hole, which can then be sealed with putty or a similar material.A mixture of lime sulphur can be sprayed to all the surfaces of the tree as this will clean up spores, as well as providing a nitrogen supplement.A comprehensive copper spray can be applied to all deciduous plants in the garden, even fruit trees that have not fully lost their leaves.Mealy bugs and scale, which typically gather in the loose bark and can survive there over the winter months, can be removed with white oil. PRUNING: The remaining hydrangea canes can be cut back to a pair of buds, as this will be where the flowers will be produced from in summer.Hydrangea bushes are one of the delights of the summer garden when they become covered in large, flowering heads in shades of pink and blue. The traditional, old-fashioned varieties grow to large bushes, while newer varieties are usually more compact, often with more unusual flowers.Because of the differences in growth, pruning methods for hydrangeas vary according to the actual type of bush and its growth habit.Older varieties can grow quite tall, so they can be pruned harder than other plants. As with most plants, any dead canes should be removed at the base of the plant. The remaining canes can be cut back to a pair of buds, as this will be where the flowers will be produced from in summer. However, if the plant has become very large, it may be beneficial to be more vigorous in an attempt to rejuvenate the plant. In this instance, the canes could be cut back to about a metre from the ground. This will encourage the production of new shoots from the base. However, these canes will take two summers to produce flowers, but the overall result will be a more manageable, productive plant.Modern, smaller growing varieties generally only need to have the old, dead flower heads removed from the canes, cutting them back to a pair of plump buds.Some gardeners prefer to prune their hydrangeas in February, once the summer flowering has finished. In these cases, pruning now will mainly involve the removal of any dead canes. These should be cut off at the base of the plant. However, any canes that did not produce flowers in the last season should not be pruned back as they will flowes next summer.Many vegetable gardens become rather shaded during the winter months, making them less suitable for successful vegetable cultivation. However, this is a good time in which to prepare the soil for summer crops, if winter vegetables haven't been planted out.Any plant material remaining from summer or autumn crops, as well as weeds, can be removed from the bed. Then the soil should be dug over thoroughly. Animal manure, home compost, leaf mulch, seaweed or spent mushroom compost can all be added to the soil as they will replenish the nutrients that have become depleted during the growing seasons. These should be dug in evenly. Bales of spoiled lucerne hay or straw can also be used.After the organic materials have been dug into the soil, lime should be sprinkled over the surface and then covered with light layer of soil. The area should then be watered and left for a week before it is dug again.The soil should be kept damp but not wet. Regular turning over of the soil will ensure that it will be ideal for the planting out of summer crops in spring.Bindiis are one of the main problems that affect summer lawns. The sharp prickles that invade the sole of footwear, as well as causing sharp pain to bare feet are actually the seeds of the plants. The threat of these plant pests is evident now with small, ferny, bright green growths that appear in lawns. The colder months are the ideal time in which to eradicate the plants and they will soon flower and set seed. Once the seeds have formed, the prickly seeds will remain, even if the plant dies. It will also mean that new plants will grow in the following year.Bindiis usually grow in impacted soil, so aerating the soil will assist to reduce the number of plants. A garden fork can be used for this purpose. As the weather warms in spring, the lawn can be fertilised.Chemical sprays are also available for the control of bindiis, but care should be taken in the selection of the sprays as some sprays can cause considerable damage to adjacent shrubs and plants.
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