Five-minute gardener: Your tasks for this weekend
Rosehips are forming now. Gather them for vitamin-C rich rosehip syrup, tea, jelly etc. Or simply pick for the vase. And, of course, do leave some on the bushes. The birds love eating them and they look fab with autumn foliage.
In frost-prone areas, it may be prudent not to start harvesting the hips until after the first frost as pruning can make the plant send out new shoots which could get killed in a frost. As well, the frost is thought to sweeten the hips.
Leaves are starting to fall. Gather now for compost or to make leaf mould.
In all but the coldest districts, early-flowering sweet peas may be sown – in rich soil in a sunny spot with something to climb up. In milder areas, they can be planted straight into the garden; in cooler spots, germinate them under cover in seed trays and transplant into the garden when they are about 5cm or so high. In both cases, germination rates are increased by soaking the seeds overnight in water.
Feed perennials after they finish flowering.
Take cuttings of pelargoniums, geraniums and marguerite daisies.
Plant all spring-flowering bulbs except tulips.
Once the temperatures start to fall, moving of trees and shrubs may commence, if need be.
Scarify and aerate lawn, then apply potassium-rich autumn lawn fertiliser. (Nitrogen-rich fertiliser encourages soft growth, which will be prone to disease at this time of year.)
Prepare new lawns, either with turf or seed.
Repair bald patches in old lawns by spreading fine sandy soil over gaps, pressing down firmly then sowing seed. Do not let it dry out till the grass is well established.
If your tomatoes have failed to ripen, put them in a paper bag and store somewhere warm, such as a hot cupboard or sunny window ledge, for a few days.
Plant cauliflower in a warm, sheltered, north or north-east facing plot. (Don't be sparing – cauliflower rice, which is basically grated and roasted cauliflower, is an easy and delicious way to lift your vegetable intake. Google different recipes.)
Sow green manure crops in any empty beds for digging in in late winter.
Cool nights and warm days are perfect conditions for mildews and rusts to thrive. Fungicides, such as sulphur, may be sprayed, but prevention is best with fungal diseases. So try not to wet leaves and avoid overcrowding plants. Gather up affected material and destroy.
Early pears, such as 'Williams' Bon Chrétien' may be picked before they are ripe and left in a single layer in a cool place to ripen.
- NZ Gardener