While most people think gardening is a Spring or Summer pastime, gardening in Winter should be far from quiet as you can have a blossoming garden all year round thanks to a variety of seasonal plants, flowers, vegetables and herbs. The cooler months are also great for maintenance jobs in order to prepare your garden for Spring. So don’t stay inside and neglect your garden just because the temperature has dropped, there’s plenty to be done to ensure an excellent winter crop and to help keep your garden in ultimate condition ready for the warmer months.
Protect Your Delicate Plants
Start by moving potted tropical plants and other warmth lovers into more protected spots – perhaps onto a veranda or shaded area. If cold-sensitive plants are growing in the garden or are too heavy to move, spray them with a layer of frost protection solution. To avoid the disappointment of losing flowering plants altogether, cover plants that have buds and open flowers with an old sheet or a frost cover available from your local garden supply centre – just remember not to use plastic as it can create an oven effect when the sun shines on it. It is advisable to move very sensitive pot plants inside during bad weather.
Have a Clean Up
Winter is the perfect time to pull out weeds, cut back invasive plants and clear up garden beds. Make sure your plant beds are clear of all dead foliage and cut away any dead stems. This will prevent the spread of rot and it will also stop insect eggs from growing and spreading. Weeds are known to compete with the plants for water and nutrition, making them vulnerable to diseases and insects, so do your best to remove weeds on a regular basis.
Pruning helps remove dead branches in order to promote the growth of larger shoots for the coming growth season. Winter is a great time for pruning:
- Most trees and shrubs, apart from those producing spring blossoms, leave them until after they have flowered.
- Roses – leave only an open framework of three or four main stems, spray these and the surrounding soil with lime sulfur to clean up pests and diseases.
- Other bare plants including hydrangeas, wisteria and grapes.
- Late Winter is the best time to give gardenias their main pruning.
- Deciduous ornamental trees and shrubs – maple, ash and elm.
- Deciduous fruit trees including apple, pear, peach, apricot, plum, cherry, almond and nectarine.
A Great Time to Feed
Fertilising during Winter will help encourage strong and healthy growth of plants into the Spring months.
- Fertilise Winter flowering bulbs when buds first appear and continue feeding all bulbs after flowering has finished to ensure strong bulbs for next year.
- Fertilise leafy Winter vegetables every fortnight to keep plants growing strongly.
- Feed citrus in late July, using an all-purpose citrus fertiliser.
Take advantage of Winter rainfall and ensure the surface roots of plants are kept protected from the wintry weather by applying mulch. Mulching improves soil structure and helps retain moisture for the warmer months ahead. Lay down a 10cm thick layer of mulch over the soil around your plants, you can even put down a layer of newspaper first to reduce evaporation and lock in the moisture.
Even though the soil is cold, provided your soil isn’t sodden, Winter is the season to plant bare-rooted trees and shrubs, including fruit trees, while they are dormant. It’s also a great time to create a new veggie garden. Here’s a few suggestions to plant this Winter:
- Bare root roses and deciduous trees and shrubs.
- Vegetables such as carrot, leek, sweet potato, cabbage, spring onions, English spinach and snow peas.
- Asparagus, rhubarb crowns and strawberries can also go in now.
- Bulbs, including daffodils and tulips, should be planted early in the Winter because they require much time before blooming in the Spring. These bulbs also need cool temperatures which can speed up their flowering.
Control Winter Pests
Even though many pests hide in Winter, cold weather doesn’t drive them away, so now is a great time to try and get rid of them. You could turn to traditional chemical pesticides, or try natural deterrents – plants with strong scents that confuse or repel creatures. Aphids and thrips don’t like roses or onions, so add a few of those to your garden to get rid of them for good. You can also make a bug trap by pouring some beer into a jar, and planting it into the soil – this will attract (and drown) little critters like snails and slugs.
There’s no reason stop gardening during the colder months, in fact it’s a great time to get out in the garden and plant some Winter veggies, have a tidy up and prepare your garden so it shines bright during Spring.
At Bittern Garden Supplies, we have all your Winter gardening needs covered with a large range of quality products and services. Call us today on (03) 5983 9779, contact us online or visit us in Bittern on the Mornington Peninsula.