We are into yet another heatwave (yes, school has returned…) Though perhaps it’s better defined as an evolving summer weather pattern? Probably not the time to be pedantic about semantics, when watering and care is badly needed. Funny though, that as we are paying extra attention to the garden and making sure it gets a drink and shade/shelter in these hot spells, some plants seem to be doing extra well. It goes back to photosynthesis again – C4 plants (responsible for about 25 percent of all photosynthesis on land, even though overall numbers are very small) have a specialized leaf structure and can separate transpiration (breathing/sweating) from photosynthesis (growing). They can also carry out “normal” photosynthesis, but especially thrive in bright, hot conditions when normal (C3) plants close their stomata and shut down. Corn and amaranth are C4 examples.
Enough of the science. Heat loving plants, once they’ve got past germination and seedling stage, also thrive in fairly extreme conditions. Notice how well the zukes and pumpkins and capsicums are doing, even though they are close to wilting point at the height of the day? By next morning (if they’ve been given a good drink) they are perky again. Spuds and strawbs are not so resilient. Thanks to all our gardeners who are striving morning and night to keep the garden watered.
Early mornings and late evenings in February provide a time for us to take a breath, notice what’s going on in the garden and welcome the changing season. It’s also time for action, when conditions permit. The February Notes are now posted. Don’t forget the Produce Exchange on Saturday (rhubarb, anyone?) and Thursday gardening, weather permitting.
Now is the time to be pruning stonefruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, cherries, etc) as well as apples and pears for fruit bearing next year. But if you have young pome trees (apple, pear, nashi), wait til winter – winter pruning is all about structure and developing a healthy, strong framework. Then start summer pruning after the third or fourth year and stick with it, unless you are making drastic changes to tree form or structure. We’ll be pruning ours on February 23 as part of the monthly garden session. I’m certainly no expert, but thanks to Simon Rickard and a Diggers Club workshop at St Erth, now have a bit more of an idea. If you have experience, please come along and share it!