Winter is upon us. Yet, the cooler months shouldn’t mean it’s time to forget the garden.While there is plenty to reap from the winter garden, it is also a time to sow the seeds for a great spring and summer. Here are a few tips for inspiration and motivation through the colder, wetter months.
The Vegetable Patch
Unless you have a hoophouse, you can rule out tomatoes and other heavy feeding, fruiting varieties for the most part. However, that doesn’t mean forgetting them altogether.
Winter can be a great time for a cover crop or green manure planting to protect and enrich your soil. Green manures reinvigorate the soil for a bumper crop on the next rotation.
How do you do it?
A great winter option is Wooly Pod Vetch and Oats. Be careful though, that Vetch can get out of control if you are not on top of it. You can purchase green manure mixes ready to go or source the seeds individually yourself. The idea is to grow the green manure to the point of around 30% flowering. Then you cut or mow it down and mix it into the soil for higher organic content. The reason we use a legume is for its nitrogen fixing capabilities. Nitrogen is great for those heavy feeders we like to plant in the warmer months.
What about the food from the veggie patch?
The winter months are ideal for getting Brassicas in the ground. They like the cold, and the white moths aren’t as prevalent so you can actually get a good crop out of your efforts. Try Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts. The cooler months also work well for the leafy greens like Spinach, Rocket and Lettuce.
During winter, you may want to consider taking and striking hardwood cuttings. You can take cuttings to add more plants to your garden or, give and swap them with friends and family. This is also a great way to accrue good karma! If you, your friends or neighbours have deciduous shrubs, they are ideal for hardwood cuttings. Some climbers and evergreen shrubs can also be successful with this technique. While hardwood cuttings take a little longer to strike, they are often successful.
How to do it:
- Select healthy shoots that have grown this year.
- Trim them above a bud at the top and just below a bud at the bottom.
- Dip the bottom into a little rooting hormone.
- Put the cuttings into a container filled with soil. I would often put five or more into a 6 or 8 inch pot.
- Keep them sheltered and don’t allow them to dry out.
- They should be ready to be potted on in a few months and planted out by next autumn.
Pro tip- use this method with your rose cuttings.
Viburnums, Buddleja, Fig, Mulberry and Jasmine are good examples of plants that can be propagated with this method.
Citrus trees in winter
Many Citrus and Fruit Trees take up nutrients during the winter, in preparation for the fruiting they will do in spring. So winter is a great time to apply food in the form of fertiliser. A feed of good old chook poo is a perfect remedy. Liquid potash is also a good option. You can apply it to the foliage and the soil for quick absorption by the plant. Potash is great for encouraging flowering which helps with fruit set.
For more on fertilising over winter, check out this article from Jeremy Coleby-Williams at the Gardening Australia website.
You can also prune citrus while leafless. A light prune to control size works well. It’s a hassle having fruit you can’t reach. Pruning is best done after the coldest part of the season. A lime sulfur spray can be applied after the trim, to help control pests that may try to move in.
Don’t forget about your lawn!
While some may see winter as a reprieve from mowing every other week, you shouldn’t just ignore your lawn at this time.
Check out this article we put together for some great tips on caring for your lawn all year round in Australia.
As you can see there is plenty to keep a gardener busy during the cool period.
We hope this article gives you some inspiration to get out there and enjoy your gardening in the mild weather. For advice on buying the best lawn mowers and other outdoor tools, contact our friendly Beacon team today.