Apr 26, 2011
Preparing for the Cold Ahead
Set your soil up for winter.....Continued warm weather and, at last, some reasonable rain have prolonged the growth of garden plants (and weeds). But the final end to summer vegetable and flower gardens is upon us and this presents a great opportunity to ‘manicure’ garden beds and do some important soil nourishment. It’s a good time to work the soil before it becomes too heavy and cold.
Dig out all the weeds around your plants and compost them or put them in your greenwaste bin. (If you wish to know where to take your greenwaste, see below).
Have a ready supply of Garden Mix from Auckland Landscape Supplies beside you as you weed and spread it thickly over the bare soil, forking it in lightly. Over time this will lighten up the heavy structure of clay or, in sandier, more porous soils, Garden Mix adds heavier particles to aid water retention for plants to access.
Finally, a layer of Mulch, over the entire area is like adding a ‘blanket’ as it gets colder – your soil retains warmth, while weeds find it much more difficult to penetrate this layer.
The Flower / Ornamental Garden
Get some bulbs into the ground, into pots or hanging baskets. Check heights of bulbs for containers – choose dwarf daffodils and tulips and low growers such as crocus and hyacinths. Wondering which way up to plant? Most growers now tell you on the back of their packets, but don’t worry – many of them still grow upwards even if their standing on their heads! Gently squeeze bulbs before planting, if you discover a soft or mushy one, discard it as it won’t develop blooms.
From now on you’ll likely be making cuts in growing wood, dishing out anything from a light trim to a short back and sides. Get all the necessary tools sharpened at the local Garden Centre or Mower Shop – they can give the most rain-ruined secateurs a brand new lease of life!
Helleborus hybridus, or the common winter rose, often has a thicket of tough green leaves at this time, grown to protect the plant from harsh summer sun. It’s time to remove them, exposing the crown and allowing the weaker winter sun to encourage numerous blooms to burst through. Trim back spent perennials to healthy growth around the crown, shape lavenders and hebes and lift dahlias that have died back.
Trim back spent perennials to healthy growth around the crown, shape lavenders and hebes and lift dahlias that have died back.
The General Garden
Moss on paths develops quickly in warm, wet weather. Spray or treat with moss-killer remedies now to control its growth.
Pull weeds, and bulk gardens with a good layer of Garden Mix or Compost. Mulch Gardens, to create a warm blanket through winter and to suppress weeds.
Lawn care in May
This is the perfect time to apply Rolawn Maintenance Lawn food or Redvale Lawn Fertilizer. These can be applied as per the instructions provided (usually about a handful per square meter) This will boost the growth of grasses and suppress growth of brad-leafed weeds.
If weeds are a real problem you may need to use a more purpose built weedkiller (for this you will need to visit your local garden center)
Any lawn that is not growing well can be raked over and reseeded. However be careful to check that there is no drainage issues that need to be seen to first.
The Vegetable Garden
Vege gardens present great opportunities for the winter kitchen. It’s not too late to put in brassicas (cabbage, cauli and broccoli) from your local garden centre, as well as beetroot (sow seed, it’s more economic) and spring onions.
Plant citrus trees now. All citrus prefer shelter and warmth, out of the frost zone; a good indication is to look at an existing tree on your property – try to grow others in its vicinity. (Note: lemons and grapefruit close to each other seem to result in very ‘pippy’ grapefruit). Good trees around now include kaffir limes, Tahitian limes, Encore mandarins and the highly decorative kumquats.
For more in-depth information about the vegetable garden, please have a look at Bridget’s Veggie Blog.