Q&As: Plants going to seed/ woolly aphids

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Daltons answers your gardening questions. Plus, your chance to win!

Send us your gardening question and be in the draw to win! Each month Daltons will answer one of your questions, which we’ll feature here. Email your question to the address below (make sure you mention which area of the country you live in – it might be important to the answer – and if necessary include a photo) and be in the draw to win a prize pack.

The last two months’ winners were: Patricia Gammeter and Katherine (Kelly) Taylor (January winners) and Jenny Collinson and Fiona (February winners). See Patricia and Jenny’s questions, with their answers, below.



This month’s prize: 2 x Daltons Garden Mulch & Grow packs

2016-Daltons-Mulch-&-Grow-Prize-PackMulching is the process of covering the soil with organic matter to reduce water loss, add nutrients and help with weed control. Even if you are the most hands-off gardener, this is the most important task to do, especially during the summer months. It’s vital in maintaining a healthy garden, helps protect plants from drying out and regulates soil temperatures. Apply a layer of mulch around plants, trees and especially pots. As organic mulch breaks down over time it improves soil quality and structure by encouraging micro-organisms and worm activity.

We have TWO Daltons Garden Mulch & Grow packs, valued at over $100 each, to give away. Each pack contains 3 x Daltons Mulch & Grow (40L), 2 x Besgrow Coir Mulch (60L) and 2 x Daltons Nugget Bark (40L). PLUS you’ll receive a pair of comfortable, versatile Red Back garden gloves from Omni Products www.omniproducts.co.nz.

To be in to win, EMAIL YOUR GARDENING QUESTION, name and glove size to: sweetliving@daltons.co.nz and put Daltons Mulch & Grow Pack in the subject heading. Entries must be received by end of day 25 February, 2016.

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parsley-cropQ. When your herbs (parsley) and vegetables (leafy greens, spring onions and leeks) start going to seed, is it best to remove the whole plant, or can you cut the central seeding stalk and keep harvesting your herbs/vegetables as and when you need them? Patricia Gammeter

A. Unfortunately, once the plants you have listed start flowering and then produce seed, the optimum time for picking and eating has passed. The plants are then entering their reproductive stage, which signals that they are near the end of their productive life.

However, with parsley you can seriously cut back the plant, which should then produce side shoots of edible parsley. You will notice that they will have a distinctive taste, unlike the main parsley plant.

For a small investment, we would recommend planting new specimens in your garden. For leafy and spring onions, radishes, etc, use successive planting, e.g. every 2-3 weeks to ensure continuous harvesting of young, fresh veggies.

With all plantings ensure there is adequate organic matter in the soil. Add in Daltons Compost and work it well into existing soil before you plant out. This is particularly important if you have a heavy clay or light sandy soil.

For more expert advice on growing vegetables and herbs, read our How to Grow Guides at www.daltons.co.nz/home-gardening/how-to-guides.

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woolly-aphidQ. I have an apple tree now about 3 years old. In the growing season it gets a soft fungus around the creases of the branches. I have tried a toothbrush with water and baking soda, which only temporally removes this. Any suggestions? Jenny Collinson, Whenuapai

A. From the symptoms you describe it appears you may have an infestation of woolly aphids. On the tree they appear like clumps of cotton wool. However, if you remove that, you will discover small white aphids in large numbers close to the stem of the tree and in the creases of branches.

The easiest and most effective way to clean up this problem is during the winter months, when one or two applications of lime sulphur can be applied to the entire tree. This should clear up the problem fairly quickly.

It would be worthwhile to also apply good quality horticultural oil at winter strength as a follow up to your lime sulphur spray.

Do not be distressed by the appearance of this problem as it is very common on apple trees, particularly in the warmer, northern parts of Auckland.

After you have cleaned up the problem inspect the tree regularly to ensure there is not a repeat infestation.

Products to try: Daltons Incredible Edible Fruit Tree and Berry Fertiliser, Daltons Mulch and Feed, Daltons Compost.

For more help, read our How to Grow Guides at www.daltons.co.nz/home-gardening/how-to-guides.

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