SPRING GARDEN PREPARATION
"Start organising your outdoor area now in preparation for the busy months of spring and summer. Plant now."
It’s time to spring into action and get those green thumbs going
The autumn and winter months are a great time to take advantage of cool days in the garden. Start organising your outdoor area now in preparation for the busy months of spring and summer.
March: Plant hedges and screens to allow roots to establish in cooler months for spring growth
April: Seeds for spring display of colourful annuals eg. lobelia, calendulas, dianthus, poppies, stocks, sweet peas, snapdragons.
May: Citrus trees.
June: Bare root trees.
July: Bare root, bagged roses.
August: Spring annuals and vegie patch varieties.
Perennial plants are happy little travellers and can be split up and planted around the garden each year. The best time to tackle the job of dividing should be in late autumn and winter when they aren’t putting all their energy into producing new growth.
Mondo grass, agapanthus, daylilies and daisies can become too dense and don’t flower or perform as well as they used to. Dig up clumps from the soil and separate into individual plants by cutting with secateurs, or use tough love on plants such as agapanthus by splicing them up with a shovel. Re-plant them into other areas of the garden or into pots.
- Clay soils should be loosened to reduce compaction with the addition of gypsum and organic matter to improve the soil structure and drainage.
- Sandy soils should have plenty of organic matter and water crystals added to them as they lose water and nutrients easily.
- Loamy soils are a good balance of clay and sand but the addition of organic matter only helps to make a good soil better.
Winter is the optimum time for transplanting trees and shrubs. Here are some tips on how to do it:
- Choose the new location based on what conditions the tree or shrub likes eg. sun or shade and how much space it will need.
- Dig the new hole before you dig up the tree or shrub so it is ready to go straight in.
- Wet the new planting hole thoroughly and allow water to drain to reduce root shock.
- Estimate the width and depth of the rootball (roots and soil) by doing a bit of exploratory digging around the plant. The width of the new hole should be twice that of the rootball.
- Do not break up the soil at the bottom of the new hole. You might think that this would help but it could cause the plant to sink and cause rot.
- Add water crystals and seaweed fertiliser to the hole to both stimulate and aid root development.
- Dig out the tree or shrub keeping as much of the rootball intact as possible.
- Use a tarp to drag large trees or shrubs to their new hole and gently slide it into the hole, keeping it straight.
- Shovel the excavated soil back into the hole and firm down, watering as you go, to eliminate air pockets.
- Mulch and water thoroughly – watering is essential for successful transplanting.
The basic rule of thumb about feeding plants in winter is to reduce fertilising frequency by half. Plants grow more slowly in the winter months and need less nutrients to keep them fed. Some plants, like spring flowering annuals, bulbs and winter vegetables, are still actively growing during winter so for them it’s important to maintain regular applications of fertiliser.
During the cold months it’s important to swap from a high nitrogen fertiliser to a low one, as too much nitrogen in winter can be a disadvantage for some plants as it can make the leaves softer and more susceptible to disease. Check the NPK ratio on the fertiliser container.
By getting out and facing some chilly days in the garden now, you’ll have a spring in your step when it comes to that busy, busy season.
Make sure you have the right tools for your pruning jobs.
Secateurs should be used for pruning small branches. Branch cutters are good for cutting branches up to 5cm thick. Pruning saws are essential for cutting through thick branches and ones you can attach a pole to turn your pruning saw into a pole saw for branches that are out of reach.
The three basic rules of pruning are to remove dead or diseased wood, to try and promote more flowering and fruit, and to create a well-shaped plant. As a general rule don’t cut more than a third off a plant.