Summer Gardening

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In Australia, the summer months are December, January and February

Now is the time to graft. Net trees against the Fruit Piercing Moth and other Predators after flowering and put up bait traps. Once trees have set flowers & fruit, start watering well otherwise you’ll have fruit drop. Deal with the Fruit Fly issue otherwise you won’t get good fruit – Organic Natural Ecolure or non-organic Rogor starting early summer – you’ll need a couple of sprays.

Summer Pruning of Stone Fruit – There is another school of thought that pruning in summer can push stone fruit into winter flowering and a fruit-fly free crop of stone fruit in spring.  Wait until the trees are in full leaf and beginning to bear fruit before cutting back. By now they have exhausted all their stored nutrients and are incapable of sprouting again with the same vigour. This is the easiest way to control growth of over-vigorous trees without waste.  It also means there is less to prune next winter.  After summer pruning, the energy of the trees is directed more towards fruit production and away from sprouting useless wood.  If summer pruning is carried out every year, even the most aggressive fruit trees are reined in.  Extra fruiting also acts as a brake to excessive growth.  With stone fruits, summer pruning brings extra benefits.  Most are susceptible to invasion by disease if pruning wounds remain unhealed and exposed for long periods in winter.  This is one of the reasons pruning operations are carried out during summer or autumn.

After pruning, healing starts immediately, quickly sealing up wounds and limiting disease entry.    Peach and Nectarine are now sprouting plenty of inward-growing and surplus new wood which carries little fruit and the same goes for Plums and Almonds.  Remove these branches. Overall weight of fruit is about the same  – difference is the remaining fruit fills out a little more to compensate so better fruit quality is gained. The traditional prune in winter results in a lot of new growth from the top of the tree and this in turn gets cut off again the following winter – a wasteful practice. (Peter Cundall – Gardening Australia and Bruce Chadfield)

General Pruning of your trees:  With very large trees, only prune 20% off the tree. If the tree needs to be pruned, it is preferable to take out just one major limb, and preferably an upright one each year, though you could get away with taking two out.

Having problems with getting your tree to flower/fruit? Peter Young from Birdwood Nursery says that if the flowers on your fruit trees are aborting, spray the following recipe on all flowers of your fruit trees – no need to use it on citrus. He emphasised that it must be sprayed on just when the flower starts to emerge although in Israel they put it on Lychee when the flower is 5-6mm. Mix 1gm Borax in warm/hot water with ½ gm Urea and 1 litre of water or if you prefer to use Solubor instead of Borax, you only use half a gram as it is twice the strength.

Asparagus   Mid-summer, stop watering or fertilizing to slow down growth.
Avocado    Prune November and February but no more than 20% of the tree. Nip & tuck small amounts to maintain the size tree you want..   As soon as the young red leaves turn green in January, inject against Phytophthora.
Bananas   Plant out in summer up until February. De-sucker in March – leaving one parent and one sucker per clump. Fertilise with one handful of Dolomite monthly to supply nitrogen. Molasses and Maxicrop for Potassium. Cover bananas. Fungicide – if yellowing of leaves with dark-brown or black speckle patches on the undersides is prevalent, consider spraying with Zineb, Mancozeb or equivalent.
Babaco   It will flower and fruit in one season in the sub tropics but here it has flowers and green fruit in Summer/Autumn then from Sept to Dec they ripen, while the next set start growing above this lot. This means you don’t get to cut down the tree to a stump for it to shoot again (if you do you lose a year’s fruit) so I run two branches and cut them alt years to get fruit every year. (George Allen)
Blueberry   Water well during fruiting. 
Citrus  October and November are when the Bronze Orange Bugs appear on citrus trees. Juvenile are small and greenish, the next stage are a bright orange and the adults are large and dark coloured with ridges on their lower back. They all cause damage to your citrus trees by sucking sap and give away their presence by their foul smell. The young pale green nymphs appear in winter, their colour changes through orange to bronze as they grow to adults. Also watch out for the Spined Citrus Bug. They can be serious pests in some areas causing flower and fruit drop by sucking on the stalks. Hand removal is possible, use a bucket of hot water to knock the bugs into. It’s possible to use an old vacuum cleaner to suck up the insects but the smell would definitely linger in the machine. Wear protective goggles, long sleeves and gloves as the caustic fluid squirted by these bugs is very dangerous and painful, particularly to the eyes. Fertilize in November. If water stress occurs during November, December and January, young fruit that has set will drop off. October and March is when the female releases her eggs so this is the time to spray with pest oil. 
Sweet Corn   To check if ripe, press into one of the kernels with a fingernail – if ready, sap will be milky.
Custard Apple   Spray the flowers with Boron when they are about one-third grown. Tip prune in Dec. and strip leaves to encourage 2nd flowering. Keep trees well watered. After fruitset, thin out to achieve larger fruit. Continue to hand pollinate Pinks Mammoth and Hillary White. Fertilise Jan. & Mar.with either Nitrophoska or Rustica  plus 2gms of boron per sq mtr.  Put old rockmelon or pineapple in a container to encourage the nitjulid beetles but contain so that crows don’t get at it. Collect pollen 3-5pm sieve then use a No 7 paintbrush – keep ground moist – prune to an open goblet cut at 60cm off ground then 2 leader branches then cut each branch at 40cm.  Watch for sunburn on trunk – paint with a waterbase paint.                            
Feijoa   Jan.  Apply 2 handfuls of Potash. Feb.  Sulphate of Ammonia – thin out fruit to achieve larger size on remaining ones. 
Figs are only produced on new wood of the new season’s growth 
Ginger   Ready to dig up in March
Granadilla   Strike cuttings during the wet season 30cm long from vigorous lateral branches. Fruit sets on new wood – pollinate 4-6 hours after flower opens
Jackfruit   Only leave 1 fruit per stem – cut off the others.
Lychee   Peak water needs approaching harvest – harvest only the mature fruit – fertilize with (organic) 100 g per sq. m. of Organic Extra 2 weeks before harvest. Net trees against pests and predators. Use Rogor or sulphur to control Erinose Mite on new leaf growth at 2 week intervals until new growth has hardened off.  Mulch trees well.  In SE Qld, do everything to encourage a prompt flush straight after harvest (beginning early March). Cincture after growth flush in March – do half the tree – copper wire used in Thailand.
Macadamia   Take soft mature tips for cuttings
Mango   Fertilize with 100 g per sq.m of Organic Extra to drip line. Prune after harvest and remove all the old stalks – don’t prune heavily as you’ll affect next year’s crop. Keep the tree to a manageable size.  Jan – Mar is the time to top work if you want to graft on a new variety. You can’t graft a monoembryonic onto a polyembryonic.  If Anthracnose is present, use a copper spray.  R2E2 is ready to pick when it has a flat top. Nov-Feb peak time for grafting Mango – use a Whip or Side Veneer graft
Passionfruit  (Organic) Fertilize monthly with 200gms of Organic Extra per vine and keep up the water.
(Non-Organic) Apply Superphosphate if you’re getting lots of flowers and no fruit.
Papaw  Fertilize monthly with 50gms Organic Extra per until May.or 200gms of Tropic. Every 3 weeks Fish Emulsion & Kelp. Spray with copper if Black Spot is seen.  Keep well watered.  Apply 3gms borax per litre – dissolve in hot water Nov and Jan. Chop down to 1 mtr. after fruiting has finished. Put a tin over the stump. Plant out seeds in Jan.  
Persimmon   Start decreasing water.   Fertilise monthly until March with 50gms
Pitaya   If you get heavy dews at night, they definitely have a problem with pollen exploding.  Get a variety that self pollinates and check that if you’re hand pollinating, you get the male/female bit right so you’re pollinating the right part correctly! In Taiwan during the wet season, they slip a large brown paper bag over the flower in the afternoon and the following morning they would give the paper bag a shake to pollinate the flower. Moths do visit the flowers at night but some flowers have a long stigma that sticks out past the anthers and it doesn’t matter how many insects visit at night, pollination will not occur. In some varieties, the flower stays open until 9am the following morning and the honey bees do the pollination.  Varieties sold: Little Red which has large fruit which is bee pollinated in the morning; Thai White which is fully self pollinated and Vietnamese White which must be hand pollinated at night. (Peter Young – Birdwood Nursery)  You can also hand pollinate from a different species. Pollen will last up to 10 days in cold storage. (Edgar Valdivia)
Soursop   Fruit ready to pick when spines are a good distance apart all over the fruit and if really ready has a slight golden blush. Pick fruit when dark green fades to yellow green. Softens to ripe in 1-3 days. 
Strawberries  Keep well watered to encourage healthy new runners. Plant out new runners in February and March
Potatoes  Plant out certified seed – don’t water too much until flowering starts and keep hilled up from then on.
Pumpkins   Plant out in January