Gardening in winter: How to make your backyard thrive in the cold months ahead

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This is a small sampling of the many useful tips you can find in Starts at 60’s FREE Great Outdoors eGuide. Download your copy here.

How do you keep your garden vibrant over winter? Starts at 60 went to the experts for their top tips.

Plant some veggies

Sandra Nanka, herb expert and owner of Mudbrick Herb Cottage, says winter is the perfect time to start a vegetable garden.

“Winter is a great time to plant a variety of vegetables and herbs in the garden because it’s when pests and insects are their least active and obtrusive,” Nanka says.

“The best veggies to plant at this time are your brassicas. Think broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts.”

She also recommends “silverbeet, beetroot, celery, broad beans, radish and some lettuce” as both perfect and delicious options to grow.

“Some of my favourite herbs to grow during winter include dill, thyme, sage, chives and parsley, and it’s no coincidence they all pair well with soups,” she says.

Prepare for spring

As the old adage goes, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”, so if you’re not in a rush to see the fruits of your labour, the perfect project is to prepare your garden beds for spring. Gardening will keep you busy and entertained, warming you up as you potter about and the hard work will pay off when your garden bursts to life in the warmer months.

Julie Roggeveen, Toowoomba’s 2019 Grand Champion Gardener, says “the most recognised spring blooming flowers are grown through the winter months”.

She lists “stocks, pansies, calendula, snapdragons, alyssum, primula, dianthus, cineraria, ranunculus, sweet peas, and petunias” as the best flowers to bring vibrancy back into bloom.

Roggeveen warns that the best tip is also the hardest one: “remove the first flower buds that appear so the plant can grow more before it puts all its efforts into producing flowers”.

“This isn’t an easy thing to do as excitement that a flower is coming can make it all too tempting to leave it be, but, this will be at the expense of plant growth and many more flowers later.”

To prepare your garden, Roggeveen suggests starting with weeding and turning over the soil to a depth of a hand fork before planting seedlings.

She also suggests the generous application of “good Compost or animal manure…applied to the bed and lightly turned over”.

“Just remember fresh chicken manure is too strong for seedlings and will burn their tiny roots. Bagged animal manures are readily available and are good to use.”

Utilise your outdoor space

Design expert Melissa Bonney says adding even the smallest decorations to outdoor spaces can make a huge difference to your happiness.

“The connection between the indoor and outdoor areas has always been important in our Australian climate but in a post-pandemic world, it has also become critical for people’s wellbeing and ability to stay connected and grounded. It’s the little additions to our outdoor areas that can make all the difference,” Bonney says.

“Adding a fire pit will provide an immediate feature for the garden and become a natural gathering spot for socialising and entertaining and provides warmth… as well as a great cooking source. People are naturally drawn to the campfire-like atmosphere.”

Other suggestions for adding colour back into your life in winter include mosaics, sculptures or perhaps an indoor plant to bring the much-loved greenery inside, safe and protected from the cold.

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