Garden tasks for this weekend
Autumn is time to prune blackcurrants. These bear fruit at the base of year-old wood and on spurs of second and third-year wood, so keep a balance of all three, but remove spindly, crossing-over or dead canes. About one-third of all canes should be removed each year.
Currant canes about 20cm to 25cm long are easily rooted. Select new growth, cut and insert in either the garden bed or pots, and keep damp.
Blackcurrants are among the easiest soft fruits to grow, not minding some shade and heavyish soil. But never stint on feeding them.
Keep watering all vegetables, especially those not mulched.
Sow parsley and coriander both of which like rich, moist, well-drained soil. Coriander sown now is less likely to bolt, than in summer.
Sow beetroot, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, lettuce, mesclun, radishes, rocket, silverbeet and spinach.
Should mildew infect courgettes, grapes, tomatoes and the like, spray with a solution of baking soda – one teaspoon per litre of water.
Reduce watering of houseplants as autumn falls. Let the surface of the soil dry a little before watering. Drain excess away. So the plant is not sitting in water.
If your ornamental grasses have grown too big and are crowding out each other or other plants, there are several options.
While some exotic grasses may be cut back to near ground level just before new growth appears in spring, this is not advisable with natives. To tidy up native grasses, comb through with fingers or a rake, removing loose litter. This is best done after flowering.
Should more drastic action be needed, then division of plants can be done from now until late April, or second-best, in spring. If done early enough in autumn, the new divisions will become established before winter, giving them a good start in spring.
To divide; dig up the grass and pull apart with hands or a knife. For larger clumps, use two forks inserted into the clump back to back, and gently pull apart.
Generally, the most vigorous pieces are from the outside of the clump. Pick these and discard the rest. The size of the pieces replanted is up to you, but the smaller the piece, the longer it will take to attain a reasonable size.
If the grasses are floppy and ungainly, cut back the foliage by a third to a half. Stiffer, smaller types may not need any trimming.
Replant and water well and regularly until established.
- NZ Gardener