5 minute gardener: this weekend's garden tasks

Mossy walls add character to gardens but moss on paths and steps can be slippery.
CHAIYON SRICHIANGHA/123RF

Mossy walls add character to gardens but moss on paths and steps can be slippery.

MOSS
Remove moss (and liverwort, lichen and algae) from where it is not wanted. While it gives charm and character to timber, stone and concrete walls, statues and sculpture, it can make paths slippery. Moss most commonly appears on damp, shady spots.

Spraying is an option for those who favour chemical control but all this does is kill it and turn it an ugly brown without actually removing it. In my opinion it's far better to scrape it off while it is green, than spray it and then have to scrape it off.

Alternatively, you can discourage it from happening in the first place. Regular brushing of hard surfaces with a stiff broom, raking of shingle areas and forking over of soil will help keep it at bay. As will improving drainage of affected areas by digging channels alongside them. When building such features make them on a slight slope to aid run off, and/or use porous paving materials. Use chicken wire on wooden paths and bridges in shady spots, or coarse sand on paths over winter to make them less slippery.

Remember though that mosses and their kin are, evolutionary-wise, way older than any other plants and very important in ecosystems. Many in your garden will be native, which makes them extra precious (and entertaining to try to identify).

READ MORE:
Five tips for a successful autumn garden
Lynda Hallinan's guide to potted colour
* How to divide
hostas

 
Hostas have dramatic textured leaves. Their creamy marbled markings add interest to shady corners.
JULIETPHOTOGRAPHY/123RF

Hostas have dramatic textured leaves. Their creamy marbled markings add interest to shady corners.

ORNAMENTALS
 Gather up leaves, especially from paths, lawns, ponds, and add to compost or keep separate to make leaf mould.

Plant out winter bedding. Nurseries and garden centres should have a good range now – if you haven't grown your own from seed, that is.

Divide and replant hostas. These are grown pretty much always for their beautiful foliage, that is their large, ribbed leaves, which are marbled, striped, or edged with white. (The generally lilac flowers are pretty enough but insignificant.) Hostas need damp yet well-drained soil.

EDIBLES
Sow cold-weather lettuces, such as 'Merveille des Quatre Saisons' and 'Red Oak' in a sunny sheltered spot in rich soil. Cloches may be used in frost-prone areas - the likes of ends of soft-drink bottles or makeshift erections of plastic bags and sticks, or old windows serve this purpose well.

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Jerusalem artichokes will be ready to harvest. As they are not good keepers, they are best harvested as they are to be eaten. It is also time to plant them – if you can find any! They do best in manure-rich soil, and their stalks and leaves are useful for sheltering tender crops in early spring. But remember always, they can spread rapidly, so consider growing them in containers.

 - NZ Gardener

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