The sting in the tail…

Winter is drawing to a close, sighs of relief all round. We’ve had some lovely and some mean weather this last week, but it’s all felt like Spring rather than winter. Everything in the garden thinks so too, the roses are all budding up big time, so a few quick moves in the last few days will have to be the last in the meantime. Whilst roses will survive being moved anytime, once they start making their fresh spring leaves, moving will diss their imminent display.

My son did some good work with the rifle a few nights ago and shot 3 possums in the garden. They had been feasting nightly on all the early shoots on the roses, including some new ones making their first shoots. This can actually kill a rose that doesn’t have a good root system yet to sustain it. So till the next wave arrive from across the paddocks/road (giant Hunua forest only a stone’s throw away) the roses only have the rabbits and hares to contend with. These characters are a lot harder to shoot, but tend to only browse on, rather than devour roses as they also eat the grass and weeds.

We managed to get some of the must do winter jobs done in the last few weeks. We seem to be a bit like school kids with exams and deadlines, only getting things done at the last possible minute! Oh to be organised and self disciplined! Anyway, we made the deadline by 4 whole days and got a winter spray of copper and conqueror oil right around the gardens, followed by the mammoth task of some fertilising. We first cleaned out the chicken house, then mixed that with trailer loads of woodash and charcoal, then ramped it up with some nitrophoska blue. Once well mingled by hand, we bucketed it around those parts of the garden and orchard we felt needed a spring boost. Some parts of the garden have only been planted a year or less into lovely farm topsoil, so these will have to hang in there till next time. Roses are such very greedy creatures, and we have them planted pretty close together in places, so they’re going to need constant feeding. (By constant I mean more than once a year if they’re lucky!) We are very lucky to have a never ending supply of organic fertiliser close to hand, ie massive woolshed across the road, uncontrollable amounts of mature stable manure, plenty of cow pats in the paddocks, nice dry chicken house and a beach close by for sea weed. Of course all of these things involve hard work…so sometimes they just get a handful of the synthetic stuff.

The 3rd winter job didn’t happen…but I consider pruning mainly cosmetic, so therefore unnecessary. As the garden here is very new, the roses are still building up and as we are constantly stealing arms for making cuttings of most of them, that can be their pruning for this season. A summer prune is always good anyway to tidy things up for the autumn display.