The shortest day is past, slowly the daylight hours are extending and with it a new season begins.
There are many tasks that should be completed over the next month or so before it's too late.
These involve such things as root pruning container plants, treating deciduous plants (rose and fruit trees) for diseases and pests harbouring over from last season and sorting out strawberry beds, pruning, mulching green crops.
This week we are going to look at winter clean-up and one of the main aspects of this is with deciduous trees and roses using an old control called lime sulphur.
Deciduous plants such as roses and a number of fruit trees have either lost their leaves or in the process of doing so. This can be greatly assisted with a spray of lime sulphur.
It burns and should not be applied to evergreen plants as it will damage the foliage.
It should not be applied to apricot trees, some pear varieties (I don't have a list of sensitive ones so best not any) and any other sulphur-sensitive plants.
The burning action assists in the final removal of foliage, burns disease spores and insect pests that maybe harbouring over in nooks and crannies wanting for better conditions in the spring to emerge.
If you can greatly reduce both disease and pest problems now, then you will have better results in the spring/summer period with less spraying to do.
With bush and standard roses I suggest that you cut back all the growths to half.
This means if the bush roses that are about a metre tall cut them back to half a metre.
At the same time remove any dead or diseased wood along with spindly stems.
Pick up all the bits and debris on the ground and then spray what is left with the lime sulphur.
This does two important things, it reduces the amount of plant that you are going to spray and it makes the rose ready for final pruning later in July.
If there are not plants growing under the roses then also spray the soil with the lime sulphur.
If you have roses by a wall the lime sulphur will likely stain the wall so a sheet to protect the wall is a good idea.
If you have had problems last season with diseases then you could, in the beginning of July, make up a solution of condys crystals (about quarter a level teaspoon to a litre of water) and spray the plants and soil underneath with this. (It stains also).
For gardeners who have peaches and nectarines that suffer from curly leaf each season then according to an article I have read from England, the lime sulphur spray is a must to assist in reducing the number of spores that cause the problem later on. I tried that last winter and it made a big difference.
I would also follow up with the condys crystals as well.
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- The Southland Times