Amazing avocados: October offers many gardening delights

GARDENING GIVEAWAY: National Gardening Week runs from October 6 to 13, and to celebrate we are offering a giveaway of a Yates National Gardening Week Starter Hamper with everything you need to get gardening — valued at $225.
To win this gardening package, please answer the following question.
What is one of the most common insect pests on evergreen magnolias?
Send your answer to weekender@gisborneherald.co.nz by Saturday 14 October, with “Yates giveaway” in the subject line.

Whether it’s fabulous flowers, lush new foliage or the promise of delicious spring produce, enjoy all the gardening delights that October has to offer.

Protecting feijoas from insects and diseases

Deliciously sweet and fragrant feijoas can be susceptible to a few insect pests and diseases during spring:

■ Scale — sap sucking insects that appear as small grey, brown, pink or black-coloured ‘bumps’ along stems and leaves, which deplete plants of sugars and nutrients and can cause patches of leaf yellowing.

■ Mealy bug — small white fuzzy sap-sucking insects that feed on plant juices.

■ Caterpillars — chewing insects that can eat through leaves and also curl leaves up with webbing (leaf roller caterpillars).

■ Sooty mould — a fungal disease that appears like a dark grey or black ash-like film that covers stems and leaves. It grows on the sweet honeydew excreted by sucking insects like scale and mealybug. Control these insect pests and the sooty mould will disappear.

Citrus spring care plan

Fabulous home-grown citrus plants like oranges, limes, lemons, mandarins and grapefruit are putting in some overtime during spring, growing lots of lovely lush green foliage, flowering and developing their tiny fruit. Insect pests and lack of water and nutrients can all adversely impact citrus plant health and the next harvest so it’s important to follow three simple steps during spring so you can get the best out of your citrus plants.

1. Insect pest control

Aphids and scale are two of the main citrus insect pest culprits. They are both sap-sucking insects that can damage new leaves and feed on plant sugar and nutrient reserves. Both these pests can multiply rapidly and cause significant damage if not controlled. Spray citrus plant foliage and stems each week with Yates® Nature’s Way® Pyrethrum & Oil Citrus & Ornamental Insect Gun as soon as aphids or scale appear. It contains natural pyrethrin and vegetable oil and is certified for use in organic gardening by BioGro New Zealand.

2. Watering

Citrus plants have a shallow root system which can dry out quickly and water repellent top soil can reduce the amount of moisture reaching the root zone. Apply Yates Waterwise™ Soil Wetter around the root zone, which will help to break down the waxy water repellent soil layer and enable water to penetrate more effectively down into the roots. Thoroughly water in-ground citrus plants at least once a week, more frequently for potted citrus. Spread some organic mulch, such as bark chips, around the root zone to help reduce water loss and protect the vulnerable citrus root system. To allow good air circulation, keep the mulch a few centimetres away from the trunk or stem.

3. Feeding

Citrus plants are called ‘gross feeders’, which is an unusual term meaning that they require lots of lots of nutrients, particularly during periods of foliage growth, flowering and fruiting.

It’s easy to ensure that citrus plants have enough nutrients by applying Yates Thrive® Citrus Liquid Plant Food over the foliage and root zone each week. Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food contains a complete and balanced meal for citrus, helping to promote healthy green leaves and a great harvest.

Grow your own avocados

Avocados are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, fibre and healthy monounsaturated fats, so they’re a power house of nutritional goodness. If you’re keen on creating home-grown avocado guacamole, salsa and salads, then consider including some avocado trees in your garden.

Avocados are mainly grown in warm areas of the north island of New Zealand; however, they can also be grown in a warm frost protected spot in slightly cooler areas.

Here are a few important tips when it comes to growing avocados at home:

■ Avocados need moist but well drained soil. Poorly drained soil can quickly lead to root rot and plant death.

■ Choose a sunny, sheltered site that is protected from frost and wind.

■ Avocado flowers contain both male and female organs which open twice over two days. When the flower first opens, it is female, when it re-opens on the second day, it is male. The timing of this flowering classifies avocados into either A or B types.

■ Although there can be some self pollination in warm areas, planting two different varieties (from an A and B type) will help improve pollination and fruit set.

■ ‘A’ varieties that are great for growing in medium sized backyards include Haas and Reed. ‘B’ varieties include Bacon and Fuerte. Grafted plants will fruit earlier than seedling trees.

Fruit tip: avocados will not ripen on the tree. Pop a too-firm avocado in a paper bag with a banana for a few days to help it soften.

Grow some gems, gold medals and ghosts in your garden!

Evergreen magnolias

‘Little Gem’, ‘Teddy Bear’ and ‘Kay Parris’ are some of the stunning smaller varieties of evergreen magnolias now available. They have beautiful large, perfumed white flowers during the warmer months and glossy dark green leaves with a coppery-brown underside, which creates an additional colour feature when the leaves are moving in the wind.

The compact nature of these magnolias makes them perfect for home gardens, where they make a wonderful feature plant, a dense flowering hedge or screen and also can be grown in a container. Little Gem can grow up to 6m tall and Teddy Bear and Kay Parris a smaller 4 m tall and can be pruned during winter if required.

Magnolias prefer a wind-protected partly-shaded spot with moist, organic rich soil that is slightly acidic. Improving the soil when planting with some Yates® Dynamic Lifter® Organic Plant Food will help enrich the soil and provide the magnolia with gentle slow release organic nutrients as it establishes. Water well, particularly while the plant is young and during summer’s hot weather and reapply Yates Dynamic Lifter each spring and autumn to keep the plant well nourished.

One of the most common insect pests on evergreen magnolias is scale. Scale are sap sucking pests that appear as white, pink, grey or brown coloured bumps along branches, stems and leaves.

Scale infestations deplete the magnolia of valuable sugars and nutrients and can attract the fungal disease sooty mould.

Scale can be controlled on magnolias with Yates Conqueror Spraying Oil, which is certified for use in organic gardening.

Mix 10 mL of Yates Conqueror Spraying Oil in 1L of water and spray over the foliage and stems. Complete coverage is important so ensure all surfaces are covered.

Whether it’s fabulous flowers, lush new foliage or the promise of delicious spring produce, enjoy all the gardening delights that October has to offer.

Protecting feijoas from insects and diseases

Deliciously sweet and fragrant feijoas can be susceptible to a few insect pests and diseases during spring:

■ Scale — sap sucking insects that appear as small grey, brown, pink or black-coloured ‘bumps’ along stems and leaves, which deplete plants of sugars and nutrients and can cause patches of leaf yellowing.

■ Mealy bug — small white fuzzy sap-sucking insects that feed on plant juices.

■ Caterpillars — chewing insects that can eat through leaves and also curl leaves up with webbing (leaf roller caterpillars).

■ Sooty mould — a fungal disease that appears like a dark grey or black ash-like film that covers stems and leaves. It grows on the sweet honeydew excreted by sucking insects like scale and mealybug. Control these insect pests and the sooty mould will disappear.

Citrus spring care plan

Fabulous home-grown citrus plants like oranges, limes, lemons, mandarins and grapefruit are putting in some overtime during spring, growing lots of lovely lush green foliage, flowering and developing their tiny fruit. Insect pests and lack of water and nutrients can all adversely impact citrus plant health and the next harvest so it’s important to follow three simple steps during spring so you can get the best out of your citrus plants.

1. Insect pest control

Aphids and scale are two of the main citrus insect pest culprits. They are both sap-sucking insects that can damage new leaves and feed on plant sugar and nutrient reserves. Both these pests can multiply rapidly and cause significant damage if not controlled. Spray citrus plant foliage and stems each week with Yates® Nature’s Way® Pyrethrum & Oil Citrus & Ornamental Insect Gun as soon as aphids or scale appear. It contains natural pyrethrin and vegetable oil and is certified for use in organic gardening by BioGro New Zealand.

2. Watering

Citrus plants have a shallow root system which can dry out quickly and water repellent top soil can reduce the amount of moisture reaching the root zone. Apply Yates Waterwise™ Soil Wetter around the root zone, which will help to break down the waxy water repellent soil layer and enable water to penetrate more effectively down into the roots. Thoroughly water in-ground citrus plants at least once a week, more frequently for potted citrus. Spread some organic mulch, such as bark chips, around the root zone to help reduce water loss and protect the vulnerable citrus root system. To allow good air circulation, keep the mulch a few centimetres away from the trunk or stem.

3. Feeding

Citrus plants are called ‘gross feeders’, which is an unusual term meaning that they require lots of lots of nutrients, particularly during periods of foliage growth, flowering and fruiting.

It’s easy to ensure that citrus plants have enough nutrients by applying Yates Thrive® Citrus Liquid Plant Food over the foliage and root zone each week. Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food contains a complete and balanced meal for citrus, helping to promote healthy green leaves and a great harvest.

Grow your own avocados

Avocados are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, fibre and healthy monounsaturated fats, so they’re a power house of nutritional goodness. If you’re keen on creating home-grown avocado guacamole, salsa and salads, then consider including some avocado trees in your garden.

Avocados are mainly grown in warm areas of the north island of New Zealand; however, they can also be grown in a warm frost protected spot in slightly cooler areas.

Here are a few important tips when it comes to growing avocados at home:

■ Avocados need moist but well drained soil. Poorly drained soil can quickly lead to root rot and plant death.

■ Choose a sunny, sheltered site that is protected from frost and wind.

■ Avocado flowers contain both male and female organs which open twice over two days. When the flower first opens, it is female, when it re-opens on the second day, it is male. The timing of this flowering classifies avocados into either A or B types.

■ Although there can be some self pollination in warm areas, planting two different varieties (from an A and B type) will help improve pollination and fruit set.

■ ‘A’ varieties that are great for growing in medium sized backyards include Haas and Reed. ‘B’ varieties include Bacon and Fuerte. Grafted plants will fruit earlier than seedling trees.

Fruit tip: avocados will not ripen on the tree. Pop a too-firm avocado in a paper bag with a banana for a few days to help it soften.

Grow some gems, gold medals and ghosts in your garden!

Evergreen magnolias

‘Little Gem’, ‘Teddy Bear’ and ‘Kay Parris’ are some of the stunning smaller varieties of evergreen magnolias now available. They have beautiful large, perfumed white flowers during the warmer months and glossy dark green leaves with a coppery-brown underside, which creates an additional colour feature when the leaves are moving in the wind.

The compact nature of these magnolias makes them perfect for home gardens, where they make a wonderful feature plant, a dense flowering hedge or screen and also can be grown in a container. Little Gem can grow up to 6m tall and Teddy Bear and Kay Parris a smaller 4 m tall and can be pruned during winter if required.

Magnolias prefer a wind-protected partly-shaded spot with moist, organic rich soil that is slightly acidic. Improving the soil when planting with some Yates® Dynamic Lifter® Organic Plant Food will help enrich the soil and provide the magnolia with gentle slow release organic nutrients as it establishes. Water well, particularly while the plant is young and during summer’s hot weather and reapply Yates Dynamic Lifter each spring and autumn to keep the plant well nourished.

One of the most common insect pests on evergreen magnolias is scale. Scale are sap sucking pests that appear as white, pink, grey or brown coloured bumps along branches, stems and leaves.

Scale infestations deplete the magnolia of valuable sugars and nutrients and can attract the fungal disease sooty mould.

Scale can be controlled on magnolias with Yates Conqueror Spraying Oil, which is certified for use in organic gardening.

Mix 10 mL of Yates Conqueror Spraying Oil in 1L of water and spray over the foliage and stems. Complete coverage is important so ensure all surfaces are covered.

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