5 minute gardener: what to do this weekend

Harvest apples before the birds get them all.
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Harvest apples before the birds get them all.

 FRUIT
Harvest apples, pears, grapes, quinces and nuts – before the birds get them.

Late season varieties of apples and pears store longer than early ones. Late season apples can be stored for several months, and pears up to three months in optimum conditions.

Store in a single layer so that the fruit do not touch each other somewhere cool (3°C to 7°C), well-ventilated and dark, such as a garage or shed.

Keep away from strong-smelling chemicals like paint.

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Weed seedlings are popping up everywhere because of the mild weather and recent rain. Stop them in their tracks by ...
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Weed seedlings are popping up everywhere because of the mild weather and recent rain. Stop them in their tracks by running a hoe through the top few centimetres of soil.

EDIBLES
Sow herb seeds.

Prepare for onion sowing by digging blood and bone into the soil in a sunny spot. Sow onions 6mm deep in rows 20cm apart. Keep soil moist and seedlings should appear within a fortnight. Thin to 10cm apart. Continue feeding with blood and bone every six weeks.

Plant out spring cabbages and cauliflowers in soil rich in well-rotted manure or compost.
Flick the hoe over vegetable beds to kill all those thousands of tiny weed seedlings germinating in the mild weather.

Dogwoods flower in spring but now is the time to take hardwood cuttings.
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Dogwoods flower in spring but now is the time to take hardwood cuttings.

CUTTINGS
​Now (that is, after leaf fall) through to late June is the optimum time to take hardwood cuttings of deciduous shrubs, such as buxus, dogwood, forsythia, rose, hebe and viburnum; trees, such as plane, polar and willow; and fruit such as currants, gooseberry and fig.

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Choose vigorous shoots that have grown in the past season and remove the soft tip. Cut to 15cm to 30cm long. The top should be sloping (to stop water entering) and just above a bud. The bottom cut should be just below a bud.

Dip in rooting powder. Or into your own rooting solution, made by boiling green or yellow pieces of willow in water. Leave soaking overnight then discard the pieces and keep the water.

Select a sheltered spot with well-drained soil which has had plenty of compost dug in.

Dig a shallow trench and place at the bottom a layer up to 8cm deep of river sand.

Poke cuttings into the trench with about two-thirds of the stem below the surface.

Leave until next autumn, making sure they do not dry out over summer.

ORNAMENTALS
Sow seeds of hardy perennials.

Cut back snapdragons, wallflowers, calendula and marguerite daisies after flowering to encourage a winter showing of blooms.

Lime soil before sowing early sweet peas.

Top-dress ornamental beds with compost or leaf mould.

Plant hedges.

 - NZ Gardener

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