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Wally Richards
Wally Richardshttp://www.gardenews.co.nz
Wally Richards has been a gardening columnist for over 30 years. Check his websites - for gardening news and tips visit www.gardenews.co.nz. For mail order products visit www.0800466464.co.nz. Wally also has a gardening problem help line on 0800 466 464.

Gardening with Wally Richards: December in the garden

December, the first month of Summer and at this time our thoughts are more on Christmas rather than the garden.

If we neglect the garden completely this month then much of our previous efforts will have been wasted.

Spend a few hours making the garden, Xmas ready, so you can relax over the festive season.

Check for plants and shrubs that might need stakes and supply them with soft ties. Ensure climbing beans and peas support frames are sturdy and reinforce if needed. Staking and support is most important as heavy fruit will break branches with resulting losses.

If you are, by chance, growing the extra large tomatoes that can weigh about a kilo each fruit then see if you can find some old bras to support them.

Thin crops of apples and other fruit if the wind and the trees have not done this for you. You may like to do summer pruning of your fruit trees which means snipping off the new growth that is happening just beyond a bunch of fruit. This puts growth into the fruit rather than new foliage growth.

The spring growth may have caused some shrubs or trees to over shadow their neighboring plants, cut back so all share the sunlight.

Hand pollinate pumpkins, squash and courgettes to ensure fruit set. This means checking your plants first thing in the morning for new female flowers (they are the ones with the embryo fruit behind the petals).

When you find any then look for a male flower that has a stamen covered in pollen. I like to pick the male and remove its petals so I can touch the centre of the female flowers with the male pollen. That ensures fruit set and overcome the young fruit from rotting on the vine later on due to lack of pollination.

Dead head roses (and other flowering plants) to create another blooming on those that are capable of doing so. Cut back the young stems to a point before a leaf to encourage new growths and more flowers. Check for aphids and other pests at the same time and if found spray with Wallys Super Neem Tree Oil with Super Pyrethrum added just before dusk.

If you find spider mites with their little cobwebs then treat them with Sulphur powder. Place the yellow sulphur powder into a nylon stocking and form it into a ball shape inside the stocking. Lightly mist the effected plant with water and then with a flat stick hit the ball of sulphur to create a cloud of dust to settle on the plant and kill the mites. If you have Liquid Sulphur spray with that instead.

Remove larger weeds and hoe up the small ones to let them die in the sun. If you have Oxalis then with Wallys Super Compost Accelerator (600 gram jar) place content into a watering can with 3 litres of water.

Stir to dissolve all the crystals and then water that over the foliage of the Oxalis and down into the soil to compost the bulbs in the soil. This is best done in full sunlight when the soil is on the dry side but not bone dry as you want the mix to penetrate down to the bulbs.
Repeat as need be till no more oxalis in that area. Product is also available in a 2kg jar. Do not disturb the soil as there maybe a few bublets still dormant instead cover soil with weed free compost so you can plant into it. Do not pour over preferred plants as it will damage them. Water soils well and then apply a mulch to conserve the moisture and suppress new weeds.

Lawns that have not been de-thatched should now be done using Thatch Busta. This will reduce the early brown patches seen, as the soil drys.

Potatoes sown for Xmas dinner should be kept watered and maybe lift a plant to see how they are progressing, (no point of lifting on Xmas morning and finding they are not ready and you have no spuds).

Pick peas as the pods fill so you have nice young peas and this will encourage more flowers. You can blanch the peas and freeze them for Xmas day. A two weekly spray of Wallys Super Neem Tree oil with Raingard added will prevent powdery mildew taking hold. Saucers can now be placed under container plants outdoors to provide the extra water they may need to get through each day. (These must be removed before winter).

Shade glasshouses if they are becoming too hot during the day. If the temperature in the glasshouse gets up over 30 degrees than plants stop growing till it cools down. During the heat plants are expiring moisture through the edges of their leaves trying like we do when we sweat to cool down.

Even when soil is moist there maybe situation where the plant cant take up enough water to transpire through foliage and we see wilting of the top foliage occurring. To cool down the glasshouse and increase the humidity sprinkle water on the concrete floor (if not concrete then on the gravel stone walkway). The water evaporates and cools the house and reduces stress on the plants from the high humidity.

Inside your glasshouse and even out side pests such as whitefly breed very quickly so you need to take early control programs. The sticky yellow whitefly strips are ideal for catching hundreds of whitefly adults along with other pests.

Regular spray programs under and over the foliage just before dusk combining Wallys Super Neem Oil and Wallys Super Pyrethrum will help prevent population explosions (if you start early enough).

If you have psyllid problems on tomatoes, capsicums, chili, okra and egg plants you may reduce the problem by using the Cell Strengthening spray already combined with the Super Spreader spraying the foliage every week.

The silicon toughens up the cells making it hard to impossible for the young nymphs to feed thus breaking the life cycle.

I have used this spray on my garlic this year and now have great plants with bulbs filling out nicely and NO RUST first rust free crop for about 3 seasons now.

Place Bird Repellent Ribbon over strawberry beds and around tomatoes to reduce the birds damage to the crops.

For a final treat to the garden mix up MBL (Magic Botanic Liquid) and Mycorrcin together and spray the foliage of plants this increases their health and stops many of the normal diseases from happening. Work in the above order and then put your feet up and enjoy your efforts.

On a different note:

An opinion piece was released on Saturday by Cam Slater political commentator.

This went viral in NZ and so many people hit the BFD web site that it crashed. Hundreds of people agreed with the writer to the point the web site had to turn off the comments.

You may have already seen this frank exposure of our Prime Minister and the harm she has done to New Zealand, destroying our way of kiwi life, causing animosity and division between our people and against one and another in families and friends.

We need to reunite as Kiwis and remove the evil this woman has created.

Merry Christmas and for a Happier United New Year.

Wally Richards
Problems ring me at 0800 466464
Email wallyjr@gardenews.co.nz

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