Being a Winter Gardener
Winter vegetables should now start maturing and will be ready for harvesting (if they aren’t already). Results will be that much more improved where vegetable gardens have been raised to avoid waterlogging over the wet winter months. Continue distributing compost around vegetables to help absorb excess water from typical winter downfalls. Vegetables to harvest include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, leeks, lettuce, parsnips, silverbeet and spinach. Continue sowing seeds of broad beans, onions, peas, radish and spinach directly into well prepared and drained soil.
Winter displays of annuals should now be in full bloom, including alyssum, calendulas, lobelia, nemesias, pansies, poppies, primulas, snapdragons, stock and sweet peas. All these flowering annuals can also be successfully grown in containers or large tubs to bring life to dull parts of the garden or decks during winter months.
Old crowns of rhubarbs can be divided and replanted into permanent positions around 600mm apart. Rhubarb thrives in rich soil so add plenty of Daltons Compost when planting The best selection of deciduous fruit trees are now available and it is a good time to start planting. Garden centres will also be overflowing with new season ornamental trees and shrubs. Preparation of planting sites is critical at this time of the year. Avoid overcrowding in your shrubberies or planting specimen trees too close together as plants often grow considerably larger than what is indicated on the plant label. Also think about what your new plants can bring to the garden, for example, use them to create shelter belts and/or hedges where needed. These can radically change how you can use parts of your garden, removing or at least reducing cold winds. Create functional and edible hedges using feijoas, guavas and bay trees.
Prune your existing deciduous fruit trees such as; apples, apricots, nectarines, peaches, pears and plums. With young trees, it’s important to develop a strong structure that will carry fruiting wood in successive years. Older trees may require more detailed pruning, especially if they have been neglected for a few years. This involves pruning out old wood that is no longer providing fruit and removing overlapping laterals or branches and any diseased wood. You can also prune raspberries, boysenberries, loganberries and gooseberries now. In very general terms, remove all old growth, selecting vigorous growing wood. With climbing berry plants, select the strongest canes and tie them to a supporting framework.
In most parts of New Zealand, the rose flowering season is finished. If leaf drop is complete, plants can be pruned. Remove all dead wood and inward growing branches. Prune to outward facing buds and remove any wood that is narrower than pencil thick. If any plants have significant die back, remove it and burn. Apply a clean up spray of copper oxychloride after pruning. With climbing roses, train the main leaders on a horizontal axis as this promotes maximum flowering. New seasons roses are now available at garden centres. When you purchase your rose, it may be bare-rooted or potted. Bare-rooted plants are generally cheaper and will need to be planted as soon as possible. With potted varieties, be careful not to disturb the root system when you plant them. Roses can grow in a variety of soils as long as they have good drainage, so add in plenty of Daltons Compost. Give your rose a generous watering to help the roots settle in and put a generous layer (about 5cm deep) of Daltons Mulch & Grow around the base of the plant.