Home' Smart Farmer : July 2012 Contents They're often
called 'crab' cactus
because of their crab-
like segmented stems or, occasionally,
Christmas cactus. The latter name doesn't, of
course, make a lot of sense in the southern
hemisphere where they flower in the middle of
Zygocactus blooms in winter because its
flowering is initiated by winter's longer nights,
or shorter days. Their flowering can be severe-
ly reduced by exposing the plants to unwanted
light, even household lighting.
Want an aristocrat in your garden? Well,
grow a rhododendron.
They had a reputation for growing in only
cold mountain gardens but in recent years
we've seen an influx of 'tropical' or vireya
rhododendrons with glossy leaves and long
Many of the vireya flowers come in shades of
orange and salmon as well as the more tradi-
tional rhododendron pink and white.
They appreciate dappled shade and will grow
happily with a few hours of morning sun.
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VEN though we are
in the middle of
winter, it's surpris-
ing how much is happening in the garden.
One in the action-pack is baby spinach. Sow
its seeds in a pot and they can be harvested
when tiny. This makes them suitable for even
the smallest of gardens. Plant potatoes in
warm, frost-free climates. Sprout seed pota-
toes in a dry spot and, while you're waiting for
them to shoot, prepare the garden bed where
the potatoes will grow.
Flowers to sow
Don't forget to sow seeds of forget-me-nots.
This is usually a one-time job because, once
established, the plants self-seed and come up
again each year.
Towards the end of the month, in warm
areas, feed citrus with a suitable fertiliser such
as Dynamic Lifter Advanced for Fruit &
Citrus. Wait until late August in cool climates.
Rose pruning can start in July but it's best to
delay it for at least another month in cold
areas. Use a saw to remove the oldest canes
completely and secateurs to shorten younger
Prune berrying bushes such as raspberries,
blackberries, currants and gooseberries.
Keep an eye out for weeds in lawns as they
will take advantage of any bare patches. Treat
with Yates BuffaloPro or Yates Weed 'n' Feed as
soon as they appear.
Spend some time in the garden with the
kids while they are on holidays. Build cane or
bamboo teepees to provide protection for
small plants. Sow snow peas at the base of
some. Kids will enjoy both watching the
plants grow and eating the sweet pods once
they have formed.
Plant of the month
Sometimes called Laurustinus, Viburnum
tinus is a popular hedging plant that has two
main attributes -- it begins blooming in mid-
winter when flowers aren't all that abundant
and it produces a showy mass of small, clus-
These flower heads start-off with pink buds
that gradually open to white, giving the plants
a 'strawberries and cream', multi-coloured
Viburnum tinus has dark green leaves that
provide a strong background-contrast to the
flower clusters. The plants are very hardy but
can often be attacked by sap-sucking thrips.
Use Confidor to control. Viburnum odor-
atissimum has larger, glossier leaves and other
viburnums have showier floral displays but
Viburnum tinus is still one of the best all-
rounders. Feed after flowering with some
Dynamic Lifter organic pellets.
Zygocactus, with their pretty and flattened-
bells, are winter-garden delights.
It's a green
from the Himalayan varieties by their
glossy leaves, long flowering period and
Viburnum tinus is a popular hedging plant which begins blooming in
mid-winter when flowers are not in abundance.
If you're after salad greens in the depths of winter, fast-growing cress is
the answer -- Cress Salad Curled will be ready for harvest in as little as
four weeks. Water gently, drain and then sit the pots on a bright
windowsill. An occasional mist spray with water from an atomiser may
be all that's required. After the seedlings appear, it's important to turn
the pot every few days so that the plants develop straight stems. Cress
is best eaten when the plants are less than 5 centimetres tall but the
decorative leaves can be left to reach up to 10cm.
Zygocactus, with flattened-bells, are delights of
the winter garden but their flowering is severely
reduced by exposing them to unwanted light --
even household lighting.
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