It’s that time of the year when perhaps all you’d like to do is stay warm and cuddled under blankets in the comfort of your home. Your garden is probably the last place you’re thinking of being, but you shouldn’t let the cold weather put you off. July and August are far from sleepy months in the garden. It’s when you can admire cool-weather flowerings, prune and prepare for the botanical explosion to come in spring. Here’s a rough guide to keep in mind while considering gardening in the winter:
1. Keep your tools handy: Sharpen, clean, oil and maintain your garden tools when you’re not actively using them. While it may sound like a lot of work, it will save you a lot of cash in the long run. Practising tool hygiene will prevent the spread of disease.
2. Mulch your beds: Top up mulch on your veggie patches, herb gardens and ornamental beds. If you don’t have any of these and are only starting out on your first ones of each, just add mulch to enrich the soil and prepare it for gardening in the months to follow. Choose sustainable, low environmental impact mulch, one that will benefit the environment as it breaks down.
3. Pruning and weeding: This is the best time of year to do jobs like pruning and weeding, and you might see a lot of gardens with rose bushes being pruned at the moment, as well as big fruit trees — except apricot trees.
4. Prepare plants for what’s to come: Although many plants are resting, spring bulbs, winter-flowering natives and shrubs that flower in early spring are growing actively. Keep these watered and fertilised for peak performance. Feed citrus in late July, using an all-purpose citrus fertiliser. Keep sowing carrots, spring onions, leeks, broad beans, radishes, English spinach and peas.
5. For cool to cold areas: In all of Tasmania, most of Victoria, the southern highlands of New South Wales, the ACT and a tiny southern bit of South Australia it’s time to get deciduous fruit trees in now, including apples, pears, plums, peaches and nectarines. Deciduous exotic trees can also be planted now.
6. For warm areas with occasional light frosts: Although many plants are resting, spring bulbs, winter-flowering natives and shrubs that flower in early spring are growing actively. Keep these watered and fertilised for peak performance. Feed citrus in late July, using an all-purpose citrus fertiliser. Keep sowing carrots, spring onions, leeks, broad beans, radishes, spinach and peas.
7. For temperate areas: In pretty much most of the inland, some areas of Victoria, most of SA and the southern area of Western Australia, there’s not too much happening in the veggie patch, but you could try lettuce, celery, broad beans, Jerusalem artichokes (put them in a pot or they can take over), potato, garlic, radish and spinach.
One thing that remains the same everywhere, no matter your local climate and weather zones, is this: improve your soil by adding organic matter, mulch and try to garden more sustainably all year round.