Posts Tagged ‘citrus’
January 8th, 2010
If you, like me, inherit an old overgrown garden, resist the urge to hack it down and dig it up. Instead stand back and watch the gifts your garden wants to give you through the seasons. The spring may bring bulbs you never knew were there. You can also make notes about how much sun each garden bed receives. Weed, mulch and take notes. Also, stroll around the streets in your neighbourhood and see what grows well. More notes in your garden diary. Check out the climate! Is it shady? Which parts will get direct sunlight and for how long each day? Then chat with your local pant nursery to choose the ideal plants for each section. Buy ones that are rugged survivors with the gift of spreading, propagating themselves and staying lush all year round. Position plants together that have similar watering needs. This will give you a huge headstart.
While you are waiting make a mulch heap of all your lawn clippings and bland vegetable peelings. Never put in onions, garlic or chillies. Avoid rotting fruit, which could attract the dreaded fruit fly! And definitely no meat! Choose a hidden sunny spot for your mulch heap, because warmth gets the break-down microbes working. Mine was under a rangy, sparse-leafed tree near the back fence. A lot of goodness will seep down and feed the roots, but keep the mulch heap away from the trunk as it could cause rot. Incidentally, you will probably soon find wonderful worms breeding at the bottom of your mulch heap. Spread them around other parts of your garden.
If you inherit a backyard of ancient trees they probably haven’t been loved or pruned for years. Buy a bag of blood and bone, throw it around their roots and water it in. Old folk need special care to get their energy back!
Old citrus trees, such as orange, lime or lemon, need to be checked for fruit wasps burrowing in the trunk or old branches. Usually these are found near the forks where limbs meet. Instead of poison, I give the hole a good poke with a metal skewer, followed by a flooding of vinegar and water mixed 50:50. Next day, poder the area thoroughly with borax. When pruning citrus trees, cut recent growth that has green stems. Then trim the height so you will be able to reach the fruit next season. Ideally, citrus should be trimmed into a ball shape, so the sun can ripen all the fruit. Pruning is best done in autumn, when you will recognise recent growth because the stems are still greenish.
Weeds in a brick-paving courtyard can be a problem. Resist the urge to tackle them with a spray or pour-on weedkiller. Instead try boiling water, this does the job nicely! Just make sure you pour on enough to cook the roots. Putting some salt over them first helps too. Well these are just some of the lessons I have learned from trial and error in my back yard.