is the coldest month of the year, and in winter-frost areas, the
ground will be covered with frost.
But that will not worry the
gardener accustomed to cold-winter gardening. The gardener who may be
in for an anxious five minutes or so will be the one who lives in the
warmer districts, which catch an occasional "snap" frost
for all that.
the garden does get the stray frost, get up ear-ly to assess the
extent of damage done. There will be no mistaking any plants, which
have been frosted. They'll probably be bent over and looking pretty
miserable. Pota-toes and beans are likely to be the worst affected.
Shrubs and even some tender an-nuals will not be harmed much, but
those soft tops of potatoes and other succulent things are easily
damaged. They must now have a light spraying over with cold water.
But you must do this early, before the sun gets on them, or thawing
will cause the fro-zen cells of the plant to expand too quickly, and
you may lose the plants.
pruning of fruit trees takes precedence over everything this month.
There are two reasons to prune. One is to shape the tree, in its
early years, by inducing it to develop into a nicely balanced
specimen, the branches so spa-ced that they will make a good
framework to carry the fruiting wood. The other reason is to keep the
tree free from dead wood, which would prove a harbourage for pests,
and to remove weak shoots and unwanted wood - branches which may grow
into the centre of the tree, keeping out light and air, and branches
which may rub against another.
For your pruning operations you
will require a good sharp pruning knife, a small pruning saw (choose
one with a curved blade for preference), and a pair each of hand
secateurs and long-handled pruners or loppers. Before making the
first cut, walk round the tree and examine it from all angles. It
will then more or less tell you just where a little cutting back and
trimming is neces-sary.
When pruning apples
the idea is to promote production of as large a number of small spurs
as possible, since as they grow older these spurs will develop into
fruiting wood. Apples and pears fruit on their old wood.
look for the dead wood and the water shoots. They're no good, so the
sooner they are out of the way the better.
Now you will be
left with a tree, which has a lot of leading growths made from the
ends of the branches last season an perhaps quite a number of lateral
shoots, which are probably growing in all directions, some of them on
the outer side of the branches and some right into the centre of the
Cut all that centre stuff out first by pruning it hard
back to two or three buds from the branch from which it sprang. This
will leave a little spur, which is just what you want, for those
spurs will develop fruit buds for next season.
Now cut back
the other lateral shoots similarly. There will still remain those
long leaders, and these can now be cut back to about one-third their
length. The final result should be a nicely balanced tree with an
Now we come to the peaches and nectarines. These
fruit on the new wood produced the previous season, so the pruninmg
process is different. This makes pru-ning very simple since the
object is to cut away as much of the old wood as possible and retain
all the new wood you can. This means that you follow the same tactics
so far as keeping the tree well balanced and open-centred is
concerned, and reducing the length of the leaders to reasonable
proportions. But there is not the same necessity for hard spurring
back, since blossom will be produced at intervals along the length of
the new wood. It's easy to distinguish between old wood and new wood.
Old wood is weathered and dark; new wood looks fresh and bright. It's
also easy to tell the diffe-rence between fruit and leaf buds, since
leaf buds are slim and pointed and fruit buds are round and
plums and cherries
should not be pruned at all, except for the cutting-out of dead wood
and possibly the removal of some awkward branch. Cherries may gum or
bleed considerably if they are cut about much. These trees bear their
fruit on twiggy shoots often produced right along as well as at the
tips of the branches so, there really is a danger of cutting next
sea-son's fruit away if you prune them at all drastically.
are a few more pruning tips:
Be sure all your pruning
tools are keenly sharp and clean,
and when large wounds are made protect them by painting them over
with builders' knotting, lead paint, or sealing compound. Then the
wounds will heal over nicely.
just above a good strong bud pointing in the direction in which it is
desired the branch should grow.
up the prunings afterwards and burn them,
for there are sure to be the eggs of insect pests on them, and when
all is done spray them with lime-sulphur.
of rose trees follows much the same lines.
Cut out all dead,
weakly and badly placed wood, then cut back the remaining stems, to a
good outward-pointing bud.
The harder you cut back the more
vigorous will be the resultant growth.
Prune a weakly-growing
tree severely, to encourage more robust growth, prune a moderately
strong-grower more lightly, and just trim back unripe wood and
preserve balance in those roses which show a natural tendency to grow
plants will not require much water now and this should only be given
when the surface of the soil really begins to look dry. Most of the
foliage plants grown in pots make little growth at this season, which
is the resting period. Keep them out of draughts, and clean them.
Sponge the leaves over once a week with tepid water, and when you
water them at the roots use water of the same tem-perature as the
Primulas, cyclamen and cinerarias, now either in bloom
or making their flower buds, will respond well to a little feeding
once a week, and these, will require rather more water than the
plants which are more or less dormant.
bloom constantly and you can get varieties with either single or
African Violets are great favourites. Be
especially careful how you water these, and don't get moisture on the
Another good flowering plant is the Kalanchoe, whilst
geraniums make first-class winter-flowering plants on a sunny
YOU SHOULD BE DOING IN JULY
over the tops of beds planted with spring-flowering bulbs and see
that the soil does not become too dry.
is pruning time
most ornamental shrubs.
All that is normally necessary is to thin out growth somewhat and
remove dead wood. When pruning hydrangeas cut back only those shoots
which have flowered. Many garden shrubs and hedges, parti-cularly
Pyracantha and quince, are host plants to fruit tree pests. When
spraying your fruit trees also therefore spray your roses and other
Sort over the stored Gladioli
and grade them into sizes. The larger ones can be planted in beds and
borders for blooming in summer and the smaller cormlets will develop
into flower-size corms if grown on for a season somewhere.
for the new
at your local nursery.
If you have a greenhouse a start can
now be made with the sowing of seeds of begonias, Streptocarpus and
Primula obconica for summer flowering.
In areas where lawns
come into growth early it is not too soon to start pre-paring for the
new season by thoroughly raking, brushing and spiking the turf.
stone fruits appreciate
plenty of lime in the soil. This may now be scattered over the
surface. In winter-rainfall areas take advantage of favourable
planting condi-tions to get in new trees and shrubs and to transplant
between winter-flowering bedding plants to break up the crust and
in cold areas and make a further planting for succession in
dis-tricts where potatoes are a winter crop.
over manure and compost the
ground well where it is intended to make an her-baceous or mixed
border in spring.
and succulents will
soon be coming into growth again and may have their water supply