Kynoch’s Dirt Diaries – December 

Dear Tanya

About seven years ago I planted a lemon tree which I had bought from a nursery in George.

I live in Hoekwil where we have lots of nocturnal wild beasties visiting, and about three weeks later the lemon tree had been dug up, chewed in half, and some of the roots eaten on the bottom half of the tree. I replanted the bottom half and put hormonal rooting powder on the top half, which I planted only after it had started shooting. Both halves have grown very slowly, and neither have ever produced any fruit. I feed them periodically with liquid fertiliser, Epsom salts, and fruit and flower fertiliser.

Another lemon tree which grew from a pip on the compost heap, has grown into a tall healthy tree, but has also not produced any fruit yet. Both trees have been fed the same. My mother also had a lemon tree grown from a pip which gave her an abundant supply of lemons for many years, so I’m wondering why mine haven’t. Your expert advice would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards, Carol Mulrooney

Hi Carol, first off, congratulations on saving the tree. But here is the problem – all lemon trees purchased from a garden centre are grafted, which allows them to have a strong root system and be able to bear fruit really young. I fear that in the process of the chewing, the ‘graft’ could have been damaged, meaning that in essence you now have two different trees. The ‘top’ part should theoretically be the grafted variety which is the one you want. My advice is to feed with Kyno Shrub, Flower & Fruit every six weeks, and during the summer give a good deep watering once a week.

Every garden needs a Lemon Tree: https://www.thegardener.co.za/the-gardener/ll/lemon/

Above is a great article to help you along the way with your lemon tree, offering all the help and advice you need.

All the best, Tanya

Pittosporum tenuifolium

Can you please advise which trees will be best suited to be planted next to an Astro hockey field? The main purpose will be to offer shade for players and spectators. I’m sure it should be evergreen with a tap root system? Your help will be greatly appreciated. Yolandi

Hi Yolandi, thank you for getting back to me with where you live. I touched base with Nico from Ninfa Garden Centre in your area, Middelburg, to help me with this very important decision. Planting a tree is a big decision – especially when considering what to plant and where! Many mistakes are made with the type of tree and where to plant; mistakes which often result in gardeners paying a lot of money to remove it. The tree you need must have a tap root in order to not interfere with the AstroTurf.

Here are some suggestions: Pittosporum tenuifolium; Buddleja saligna; Podocarpus henkelii; Acer palmatum; and Ilex mitis. If it was my decision I would go with the Pittosporum as it’s a winner tree and, oh so beautiful! Please remember that when preparing the planting holes to add a generous amount of compost mixed with at least two handfuls of KynoGarden. The compost will improve the soil and provide a great base for the plant, while the KynoGarden will provide all the essential nutrients to get strong root growth going.

All the best, Tanya

I decided to give geraniums a go again this year after they were totally trashed by a hailstorm here in Johannesburg last December. However, I seem to have a strange problem with them, as you can see in the photos. I have not been able to find out what the problem is, and am hopeful you can help.

Dale Hastings

Hi Dale, they don’t look too bad at all,in fact the foliage is good. What you have now is the left-over flower stalks which are trying to make seeds. Please follow the green stalk right down to where it joins the main stem of the plant, and just snap it off with your fingers. Don’t leave these on as this is when diseases start. Also remember that when watering to allow the plant to dry out well before the next watering, and only water the soil and not their leaves. I would also feed with Kyno Shrub, Flower & Fruit, two teaspoons once every four weeks, as well as a kelp liquid fertiliser. Both of these will improve the flowering and strengthen the plants against disease. All the best, Tanya

I have several succulents – as per the attached photo –which are flowering at present. The leaves look good for a while then start to gray off, as you can see. How do I either prevent this, or restore them to their full glory? And more importantly, what causes this unsightly graying off? Mike Clancy

Hi Mike, Epiphyllum commonly gets a fungal disease which presents itself as a grey colour. Treat with a systemic fungicide such as Dithane once a week when watering, and water the plants early in the morning. This fungal disease is common when the plants come out of a cool winter and have been stressed by the lower temperatures, which makes them susceptible to these diseases.

Good luck, Tanya

Can you please help me with the name of the tree in the June 2023 issue, page 18, from the story Inspirational Walls from the Melbourne Flower Show. I have a very small walled garden with an east-facing wall. I’m looking for something to give a little green height against a stone wall. In summer the wall gets some lovely sunlight, but not so much in winter. I really liked the ‘look’ from the June issue and was wondering about those trees. Kind regards, Annie Lewis

Hi Annie, thank you for your picture. Looking at your area, I would go for one plant… it jumped into my head immediately. I would plant an Acer palmatum hybrid. Remember when preparing the planting hole to add in a generous amount of compost and at least two handfuls of KynoGarden. This combination, especially with the KynoGarden, promotes and stimulates strong root growth, and helps get the tree to set down strong roots directly after transplanting. Water deeply once a week, especially if the rains have not yet arrived. After six to eight weeks apply a handful of KynoVeg. This sounds strange, but the make-up of KynoVeg – this fertiliser is a 2.3.4 – is what is important. The last number (4) is the important one. This is for potassium, which promotes strong cell walls of the plant, stimulates cell division and encourages plant health. Potassium also promotes flowering and fruiting which is why it’s perfect for veggies and fruit trees, so add it to the your veggie garden as well. There are some beautifully coloured foliage varieties which only grow to about 2m in height, which are deciduous but have the most spectacular spring foliage.

All the best, Tanya

Send your questions to info@thegardener.co.za using the subject line Kynoch’s Dirt Diaries. 

The Gardener