Such beautiful weather this past week after some really cold weather. Well I cannot predict weather but do know that these warm days will not last. Having said that, people have always said “Joburg in July has the best winter weather” and I think they are right.

An interesting question came in from a 702 listener.
The question is “ can ash from the fire be used in the garden”.

Using ‘Woodash’ is fine as long as you spread in finely over the compost or directly into the garden. Don’t keep heaping it up in one place as you will not get the decomposition required.

Using ‘Coalash’ is not a good idea to place directly into the garden. This can be spread into the compost heap. I am always nervous of coal into the garden because I don’t think you get the nutrition released as quickly as woodash. Be careful of the braai briquettes as this in coaldust mixed with wood and they use a binder which would not benefit the garden.

Here are two links to learn more about the use of woodash (RHS.UK)

http.//apps.rhs.org.uk/adviceresearch/Profile.aspx?pid=621

and coalash (USA):

http.//www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-in-soil

In the USA it was discovered that vegetables grew incredibly well from what is known as ‘flyash’ from coal but they have now discovered that it can convert in arsenic which could be taken up into vegetables and that would not be a good idea.

PRUNING

Start pruning Fruit trees and Grape Vines now and then at the end of the month into mid August, prune roses.

Sometimes people ask why their fruit trees do not produce the fruit that they expected. A good example is the Eureka lemon and many other citrus trees.

Citrus trees are usually grafted onto the root stock of the Rough skinned lemon which is a prolific and fast grower. This graft could be anywhere from just out of the ground to a good metre above the ground. If you do not watch your plant well you could suddenly see long shoots with many thorns shoot out from this grafted point. The leaves will be larger and just look different. Fruit will form and it will not be the lemon you expected. So the trick is to watch out for this problem and make sure you cut out.

This also happens with peach or apple trees when you suddenly see lots of shoots coming from the ground. Remove these and clear them away to leave a clear trunk to the tree.

Roses are also grown on rootstock and sometimes you see long thin flimsy stems with small leaves grow past the roses. This is the briar that the rose is grafted on to and you need to remove these otherwise your rose bush will just get weaker and weaker until the briar becomes dominant and takes over.

TO DO THIS MONTH

• Keep fertilisising seedlings and bulbs every two weeks

• Get lawnmowers sharpened and cleaned up because at the end of this month will be a good time to scarify, water well and fertilise so that you have a beautiful green lawn to show off the spring flowers.

• Sharpen all pruning tools and make sure they have been washed very well to remove any fungus or bacteria that could be carried from last years pruning.

SPRAY CONIFERS for the Italian aphid with a systemic controller into the soil

• Water Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Magnolias and Camelias deeply twice a week and fertilise

• New plants will start coming into nurseries soon so keep your eyes open for all the new varieties that we are likely to see during summer.

• There is still time to plant Stargazer and Tiger Lilies this month. They will flower by December and also make wonderful pot plants.

• Keep deadheading Poppies, pansies and violas to prolong their flowering.

• Feed citrus trees with Epsom salts and 3:1:5

• Feed roses with 5:1:5, Epsom Salts, Bonemeal and compost. Then mulch when finished.

• Ask your butcher for some fresh bonemeal for the birds. Make into fist size balls and mix birdseed into the balls. Freeze these and every time one is finished, defrost and put out for the birds. You’ll be amazed at what birds you attract.

HAPPY GARDENING in this glorious weather.