5 minute gardener: what to do in the garden this weekend

Plant garlic in free-draining friable soil to prevent the bulbs rotting.
ALICJA NEUMILER/123RF

Plant garlic in free-draining friable soil to prevent the bulbs rotting.

EDIBLES
Garlic and shallot planting can begin – and continue through until early spring. Push bulbs pointy side up into soil, with about half their length below the surface, about 10cm apart in rows about 40cm apart. Soil for these alliums should be free-draining and friable - heavy soil, wet soil will lead to bulb rot. The site should be sunny.

Sow broad beans in well-drained soil enriched with compost in double rows, 20cm apart and seeds 10cm apart.
Plant citrus and strawberries.

When clearing old vegetable beds most of the debris can either be dug back into the soil or composted. Some gardeners prefer to burn or put out with the rubbish, rather than compost, old tomato plants, fearing any diseases present will not be killed in the compost and will reinfect plants when the compost is returned to the garden.

A small chipper is ideal, failing that a sturdy pair of secateurs and some elbow grease will do the trick nearly as well. We're talking about speeding up the composting process by cutting up garden debris, especially the likes of sweet corn stalks, or robust flowering stalks such as those of the perennial sunflower. The smaller the pieces, the faster it will compost.

READ MORE:
* The time to plant garlic is now
* Q & A: Six common broad bean questions
* Mary Lovell-Smith: The joy of compost

 
Plant cheerful primroses and polyanthus where you can see them from inside on grey winter days.
HIROSHI TANAKA/123RF

Plant cheerful primroses and polyanthus where you can see them from inside on grey winter days.

ORNAMENTALS
Plant primulas, primroses, polyanthus and ariculas for late winter, spring showing.

Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials. It is also a good time to rearrange perennials that did not perform well physically or aesthetically over the past season. Perhaps the colours clashed, or the site was too sunny, or not sunny enough.

Hardwood cuttings may be taken of shrubs such as buddleia, flowering currant, deutzia, dogwood, forsythia, hydrangea, philadelphus) rose and viburnum; of climbers such as honeysuckle; fruit such as gooseberries, currants, fig and mulberry and many deciduous trees.

Keep on top of weeds that have germinated in the recent warm spells by hoeing them, or pulling them out by hand. Hand-weeding is often best as it means self-seeded seedlings of both perennial and annual flowering plants may be saved. Recognition of these little seedlings is best learned by experience and observation.

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Replenish the soil in ornamental beds by digging in well-rotted manure and compost.

Sow lobelia for planting out in early spring.

Plant spring bulbs and corms without delay.

Lift bedding begonias and keep under cover (in a shed or garage) over winter, and replant in spring.

 - NZ Gardener

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