How do I get started with gardening?

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9 years 3 months ago #39285 by Henry
Hi

When I first joined this forum some 5 years ago, we just moved into a LSB (a piece of bare land with a house on it) but despite all good intentions the place is as wild / unwieldy as it was when we first moved in. Now that circumstances changed and he actually had to move back to the suburbs, our new suburbian home has ironically a much better established garden. Unfortunately both my wife and I were true city dwellers when we grew up and facing this very nice garden we simply have no clue how to maintain it. Although we are technically no longer "lifestyle-blockers" and seem a bit out of place on this forum, I would still appreciate very much any tips or pointers you can provide us on how to get started with some basic gardening. A book, a website or something to get us started perhaps?

In our new place we have:

- Feijoa
- Grapefuit
- Tangerine
- Plum
- Gauva?
- Some quite established hedges
- Some ivy / vines of some description
- We also inherited some indoor moth orchids

We imagine it would be very expensive to employ some professional to tend to all these, so we would really like to learn as we go. But it is all a bit overwhelming at the moment, so any tips would be appreciated.

If this forum is not the right place to ask this question, can you give us some pointers where we should go?

Thanks

Henry

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9 years 3 months ago #503507 by Stikkibeek
If your feijoa has fruit on it, they will ripen and drop off from Mid-late April into May. They do like moisture, so if you have lawn to mow, catch the clippings and spread them around the feijoa as mulch. Not right up against the trunks, but a reasonable circle. it will help suppress other grasses growing around the base. Trim to shape after fruiting has finished.
Your citrus will have green fruit and will not ripen until spring-early summer. Feed with a good citrus fertilizer twice a year and avoid pruning when the Kowhai borer is flying, as they also like citrus and are one of the worst enemies of citrus. You can get Kiwicare bug control especially made for borer
Guava will ripen in late autumn, so feed now. Citrus fertilizer is ok for them too.
Your plums are likely finished, or near finished, so when the leaves begin to turn, is a good time to prune back the long runners. Cut back to about 3rd bud on the new wood, and if possible chose an outward pointing bud. These are your fruiting branches for next year. Take out any dead wood, or branches that cross over, or inwards.
If your hedges are flowering types, clip after flowering. If the ivy is in a place where it is not a nuisance, then you can clip it like a hedge. Be aware though that it harbours lots of dust and scaley bits, which are tough on lungs and throats, so wear a dust mask when you clip. Ordinary hedge clippers work, or if woody, secateurs.
If you have the room, prepare a patch for your winter vegetables and plant cabbage, broccoli and silver-beet now. Not too late for garlic. Plant cauliflower later in the month as they like cool roots, and dress the soil with dolomite.

Start a compost pile/bin of clippings, kitchen scraps, (not meat scrap) or a worm farm for your scraps and follow the general rules for making compost.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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9 years 3 months ago #503508 by muri
Where are you located.
There are lots of areas that have community gardens and you can learn heaps by getting involved in them to at least help get your confidence levels up and to learn what other people do to look after gardens.
Most fruit trees tend to look after themselves more or less compared with vegetable gardening so do you want to go beyond the fruit trees and learn basic gardening techniques. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Most gardeners are very willing to help others and share their knowledge so you might find there is a gardening group in your area as well
Library books can be a really good starting point also

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9 years 3 months ago #503518 by Henry
Thanks Stikkibeek for your ideas.

Stikkibeek;509653 wrote: If your feijoa has fruit on it, they will ripen and drop off from Mid-late April into May. They do like moisture, so if you have lawn to mow, catch the clippings and spread them around the feijoa as mulch. Not right up against the trunks, but a reasonable circle. it will help suppress other grasses growing around the base.

Understood. I am using a mulching lawnmower at the moment, but can certainly collect some for the Feijoa. Or buy some mulch.

Stikkibeek;509653 wrote: Trim to shape after fruiting has finished.

Not sure what shape I should aim for...

Stikkibeek;509653 wrote: Your citrus will have green fruit and will not ripen until spring-early summer. Feed with a good citrus fertilizer twice a year and avoid pruning when the Kowhai borer is flying, as they also like citrus and are one of the worst enemies of citrus. You can get Kiwicare bug control especially made for borer

Got the fertiliser (Yates brand, some granules). Will follow instructions on the bag.

Stikkibeek;509653 wrote: Guava will ripen in late autumn, so feed now. Citrus fertilizer is ok for them too.

I am not even sure if they are guava. Have some pictures will post later.

Stikkibeek;509653 wrote: Your plums are likely finished, or near finished, so when the leaves begin to turn, is a good time to prune back the long runners. Cut back to about 3rd bud on the new wood, and if possible chose an outward pointing bud. These are your fruiting branches for next year. Take out any dead wood, or branches that cross over, or inwards.

I made a mistake. It is actually peach, not plum. Does the suggestion still hold?

Stikkibeek;509653 wrote: If your hedges are flowering types, clip after flowering. If the ivy is in a place where it is not a nuisance, then you can clip it like a hedge. Be aware though that it harbours lots of dust and scaley bits, which are tough on lungs and throats, so wear a dust mask when you clip. Ordinary hedge clippers work, or if woody, secateurs.

The hedge plant (photo to follow) has some leaves which look diseased. I wonder what to do with them.

The vine is growing literally like weeds and start climbing onto the deck, thru the decking boards. So I will trim them. I think they will be hardy enough!

There is also some plant which I have been told is rosemary. They are way overgrown as well and is actually blocking the garden path.

Stikkibeek;509653 wrote: If you have the room, prepare a patch for your winter vegetables and plant cabbage, broccoli and silver-beet now. Not too late for garlic. Plant cauliflower later in the month as they like cool roots, and dress the soil with dolomite.

Won't be contemplating that at the moment, until we get the existing plants under control.

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9 years 3 months ago #503519 by Henry

muri;509656 wrote: Where are you located.

Eastern Beaches in Auckland

I will go to library at some stage to see what they have on offer. Any particular title you would suggest?

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9 years 3 months ago #503520 by Henry
Hedge with the diseased leaves

The overgrown plant - been told it is rosemary

The previous owner planted these under the deck. Some is obviously dying - not sure if it is lack of water or sun.

One of the palm-like trees - I guess one need to trim the lower, wilted ones?

This is the feijoa on the large feijoa tree at the moment

Couple of small feijoa trees next to the big one

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9 years 3 months ago #503522 by Henry
The big feijoa tree stands more than 2 metre tall.

this is what I think is the peach tree. No fruit on it at the moment.

Close up of the peach tree. Is it ok?

Some kind of citrus tree. Don't know what it is yet. May be grapefruit.

This is the tangerine tree. The leaves do not look healthy

They have this in the middle of the yard. Not sure what they are.

Unknown fruit tree. May be guava???

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9 years 3 months ago #503535 by rivercottage
Hi Henry

- The diseased hedge looks to me like some type of pest infestation.
- The overgrown plant is rosemary, the prostrate form. Don't cut into big old wood as it won't regrow. So trim only the younger growth.
- The dying thing under the deck (with the big leaves) looks like a subtropical thing that grows in the forest. Judging by the picture I'm guessing that it has been burned by too much sun, like those house plants that can't go in direct sunlight.
- The palm-like trees do shed like this, just remove it when it comes off easily in your hand. Dont run the lawn mower over the shed leaves as they can be very tough and will tangle up in your mower. Take forever to compost too - I twist them up and use them as kindling.
- The peach tree doesn't look quite like a peach tree to me. Leaves look too broad. Looks more like a plum. The stuff on it is lichen, some trees shrug it off completely, some don't. You will still get fruit.
- Tangerine tree leaves - are they sticky? If so then the black stuff is mould growing on the sticky honeydew left behind by aphids or other insects. You can get special sprays or use soapy water; The tree probably needs a hair cut to get more air through the middle, or perhaps the tree is surrounded by over grown shrubs etc. and the airflow is blocked that way. A good feed probably wouldn't hurt.
- Not guava. Guava leaves are deeply grooved along the veins.

Good luck!

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9 years 3 months ago #503541 by Stikkibeek
Henry, the tree with curled leaves looks like a monkey apple or lilly pilly, and I think it is a humidity problem like the fungus that causes curly leaf on peaches. It can also affect camelia. I don't think it is a problem, (might also be thrip damage)
The peach is as first guessed, a plum.
The black stuff on the citrus is sooty mould and is caused by the citrus white fly which has little sucking offspring which leave honeydew behind as River cottage has said. Ants farm them for the honeydew. Soapy water sprayed on, left for a while and hosed off is an effective way to treat.
The guava is a cherry guava. They are smallish like cherries, and you may have either a red one or a yellow one. The red ones make excellent jelly, and the yellow are good eating. They type of guava with the deep grooves on the leaves are the tropical kind. They go pink when cooked and you may be familiar with the canned variety that come in from South Africa.

Those lovely clumps of grass on your lawn are Lomandra tanika, a lovely drought hardy australian grass which are sought after for landscaping. I have just planted about 20 of them in my garden.

To trim the feijoa, is only to make it appealing to you shape wise. Don't cut it too far back as that will affect fruiting next year, but from the photo, it looks as if it could do with a little bit on the right side, just to tidy.
The palm can have the spent fronds trimmed off to keep it tidy.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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9 years 3 months ago #503885 by Henry
Thanks for all the advices.
I took some diseased leaves to a garden centre and been told that the hedge is Eugenia and the disease is due to psyllids. I am going to trim the diseased leaves and spray the rest of the hedge with some insecticide this weekend hopefully it will stop the spread of the disease. There is one plant is particular where all the leaves are literally affected, and I am not sure what to do with it.

Regarding the rosemary - I had a look and there is a lots of woody growth extending beyond where we want them. As mentioned above and after some reading I understand that one cannot prune too far back into woody growth or risk killing the plant. But then what can i do if we want to reclaim the foot path? Do I prune 1/3, wait a few months and trim again?

I have similar problem with some lavenders, which are also overgrown such that the path is completely - and i mean completely blocked. We don't want to kill the plant because we like the flowers but not sure how to go about pruning it to resemble some kind of control.

Thanks again for the advices so far. I will probably try to go to the library this weekend to see what other material they have. It is all a bit overwhelming at the moment.

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9 years 3 months ago #503896 by Stikkibeek
Ah! So could still be a lilly pilly since they are the same family of myrtle. Most common one in NZ is Acmena or monkey apple. Here's what I picked up from the internet.

The lilly pilly psyllid (Trioza eugeniae) is a tiny native insect related to cicadas. The immature psyllids or nymphs feed inside the leaves. They settle in one spot then embed themselves in the leaf, forming a lump or pimple. This is a disfiguring problem and the last thing you want to see on your stylish hedge or topiary. Some lilly pillies are not worried by the pimple psyllid. The most resistant varieties are Acmena smithii and Syzygium luehmannii. Those that most readily show signs of attack are Syzygium paniculatum types including ‘Lillyput’. Waterhousea floribunda is also susceptible. Plants in nurseries don’t usually show signs of psyllid damage as they are sprayed regularly as a protective measure. As the pest is inside the leaf, contact sprays are not effective. Control is usually gained with a systemic spray such as Confidor.


Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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9 years 3 months ago #503897 by muri
Stikki, the monkey apple as we knew it some time back is now a banned plant in NZ for its ability to self seed
Eugenia varieties are available that dont spread but they are all prone to psyllid damage as Henry has found out.
Lavender can be cut back as hard as you like, assuming it is the dentata variety - the one that flowers all year, or the stoechas types. The grey leaved plants dont take well to being cut back to the wood and should only be pruned in the spring really.
Rosemary its often better to replace it with nice fresh plants rather than trying to deal with very woody and unsightly plants

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9 years 3 months ago #503906 by Stikkibeek

muri;510098 wrote: Stikki, the monkey apple as we knew it some time back is now a banned plant in NZ for its ability to self seed

Monkey apple or Acmena is what is called a surveillance plant which means it is not allowed to be sold, distributed, propagated or exhibited and Landowners and occupiers will be encouraged to protect the environment by removing these species from their properties, although there is no legal requirement to enforce this. It is on the surveillance list because it has the ability to be distributed by bird movements into Native forest, scrubland/scrub and urban open spaces. It isn't poisonous. So probably no worse than other surveillance plants like agapantha or privet (which are toxic) although the latter one can be harmful for people with intolerance to its perfume which can cause asthma or related respiratory illnesses.
Acmena makes a very good hedge, there is an urban one not far from here and it always looks lovely. Easy to see why it was brought into the country in the first place.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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9 years 3 months ago #503909 by kai
If you could kill rosemary by pruning back to hard, mine would have died many times over, the same with lavender, it might take a while for it to bounce back, but they do. The best time of year is after they have finished flowering.

The peach tree given the size of the leaves I would say it could even be a cherry, although cherries tend to be more upright, but it could have been trained.

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9 years 3 months ago #503910 by kai

Stikkibeek;510108 wrote: It isn't poisonous. So probably no worse than other surveillance plants like agapantha or privet (which are toxic) although the latter one can be harmful for people with intolerance to its perfume which can cause asthma or related respiratory illnesses.

I am not advocating that you plant this, but privet is much maligned in this country. I read that it is toxic to dogs and cats. If dogs and cats were partial to it, there probably would be no dogs and cats left in the UK as every other house has a privet hedge. The berries which are the only possible tempting part to a young child would give a bit of a stomach upset and that is it. Any flowering plant has the potential to give hay fever. I only suffer hayfever when the kowhai is flowering and I am not about to start a "lets get rid of kowhai" campaign.

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