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Plum crazy

Courtesy of Yates.

Whether you like your plums with golden yellow, rich crimson or creamy white flesh, they’re sweet, juicy and delicious . . . and now’s the time to plant a tree that will bear fruit in the summer and early autumn.

Perfect plums

Some plums are freestone (the flesh comes away easily from the stone) while others are clingstone. They come in a range of skin colours from dark purple to light red and yellow.

If you enjoy eating plums during summer and early autumn, winter is the time to plant a plum tree in your garden, when they'll be available as bare-rooted trees. Most varieties of plum trees do best in areas with cool winters.

However, some varieties, such as Burbank, Coe's Golden Drop and Damson can be grown in warmer areas in the north of New Zealand.

Plum trees can reach up to 5 metres tall. They need to be grown in a full sun, wind- protected position, near a pollinating partner to help achieve the best possible harvest. The plant tag will provide information on the best matching plum varieties.

Plums are also available in double-grafted forms where two different varieties are grown on the one tree.

Waimea Nurseries has some great plum combinations in their ‘Plum Double' range, including Billington & Burbank, Santa Rose & Omega and Coe's Golden Drop & English Greengage.

Double-grafted trees have been specially chosen to be suitable pollination partners.

For the best flavour and maximum sweetness, allow plums to ripen on the tree. They're ready to pick when they're just starting to soften.

Feed plum trees from spring to autumn with Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food, which promotes healthy leaf growth and lots of delicious plums. The combination of concentrated manure, fishmeal, blood and bone and seaweed in Yates Dynamic Lifter also helps improve soil quality and encourage hardworking earthworms and beneficial soil micro-organisms.

Organic caterpillar control

Brassicas is the name given to a family of plants that includes popular vegetables like cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Winter is ideal for growing these delicious and super-healthy vegetables, whether it's out in the garden or in pots on a sunny balcony, veranda or patio.

They are unfortunately also very popular with caterpillars, including the voracious cabbage white butterfly and cabbage moth caterpillars as well as lopper caterpillars. They can rapidly skeletonise leaves and chew into and ruin heads of cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.

You may not see the caterpillars themselves, just the damage they cause or their droppings. To ensure you are able to eat more of your brassicas than the caterpillars, you can protect your precious plants with Yates Nature's Way Organic Citrus, Vegie & Ornamental Spray. It contains a dual action combination of natural pyrethrin from the pyrethrum daisy and vegetable oil and is certified for use in organic gardens by BioGro NZ. It's also boosted with seaweed to help plants recover from insect pest damage.

Spray foliage every week as soon as caterpillars or their damage appears. Spray lightly, just to the point of run off, including the undersides of foliage where caterpillars often hide.

— Courtesy of Yates

Plums are sweet, juicy and delicious, and come in a range of skin colours from dark purple to light red and yellow. Pictures supplied
Caterpillars can rapidly skeletonise the leaves of brassicas.