The following article was written by Charles Albone (from Better Homes & Gardens) and published in the Sunday Times on Sunday, June 21, 2020.
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IT MAY SEEM LIKE A SLEEPY TIME IN THE GARDEN BUT NOW IS THE CHANCE TO GET THE JUMP ON SPRING
1. WEED IT AND REAP
Weeding may seem like one of the least enjoyable jobs in the garden but I like to look at it in a different light. My mantra is “it’s never done”. Once you realise weeding is an infinite job that never reaches a “it’s finished” climax, the sooner you start to enjoy the peace and quiet. If one of the kids interrupts or the phone rings you don’t mind leaving the job — as it will always be there. Spending some time weeding now is great as weeds are growing at a slower rate and you can start to wrangle any infestations.
2. AYE, THERE’S THE SHRUB
With the weeding somewhat under control it’s time to move on to pruning deciduous shrubs and trees. With these types of plants, devoid of leaves, you can really appreciate the form and shape and make any decisions on what is to go and what should stay. Start by removing any dead wood or any crossing branches.
3. CAN YOU DIG IT?
Good soil is like a healthy diet for your plants so improve yours with the addition of compost to help aid in the retention of moisture and nutrients. For new garden beds dig through 100mm over the entire surface, for existing beds use as a mulch to 75mm depth.
Store-bought compost is great and convenient but nothing beats home-made, so find a spot to start your own heap or look at bringing a tumbler into your garden.
4. SLOW & STEADY WINS
Fertilising your garden now with a natural slow-release fertiliser such as blood and bone or chicken manure pellets helps to supercharge the nutrient availability when things do start to get back into growth. It’s like supplements for your diet.
5. RAIN SUPREME
Mulching your garden beds is a great way to keep weeds suppressed, although now you’re all centred and enjoying it you might need another reason! Well it also helps to slow rain into the soil, lock in that moisture and it breaks down to improve the soil too, so apply a layer between 50-75mm.
6. PAVING THE WAY
Away from your plants and soil now is also a great time to clean your paving and hard-stand areas as mould growth creeps in during the cold. I always soak my surrounding garden beds with water before and after cleaning the hard areas to dilute any chemicals used and prevent any damage to the surrounding garden beds.
7. BACK ON THE TOOLS
Poor plant health is often attributed to blunt tools. Poorly kept tools can damage your plants, opening them up to bacteria and pest infections. To prevent this, you need a nice clean cut from your shears, loppers and secateurs so show them some love by cleaning off accumulated gunk and sharpening the blades.
8. BARE NECESSITIES
Get planting. Winter is the perfect time to plant some bare-rooted stock. Bare-rooted plants are generally much cheaper and easier to handle than their potted brothers and sisters but there is only a small window when they are available, so take the chance while you can.
9. INNER SANCTUM
With the colder days outside why not focus inside and give your indoor plants some love? I often collect all my indoor plants and give them a lukewarm shower for 10-15 minutes — this washes them clean and ensures the root ball gets a good soaking.
10. YOUR NEXT BIG IDEA
With all your winter gardening jobs ticked off, winter is the perfect time to plan a new project.
Whilst weeding think about all the things you would like in your garden, write them down and work out how to do it!