Welcome to Winter, it may not be the busiest season in the garden but there is still plenty to plant, and gardening jobs to do in the cooler months.
In warmer regions you can still plant your Spring flowering bulbs, such as Daffodils, Crocus, Freesias, Hyacinths, Jonquils, Dutch Irises, Ranunculi and Tulips. However, as the Spring flowering bulb season winds down, it may become more difficult to find these bulbs in stores.
The bulbs that are now in peak season are Summer flowering varieties such as Alstroemerias, Bearded Iris, Canna Lilies, Gladioli, Asiatic Lilies and Lily of the Valley. Get in early to ensure you can find all your favourite Summer flowering favourites. Produce bulbs are also in peak season now, and varieties to plant include Asparagus, Garlic, Rhubarb, Shallots and Strawberries. Keep in mind that some crops will lay dormant until the soil has warmed up enough, this is particularly true for Potatoes so why not chit them ahead of time to get a head start.
If you have a large space to fill, why not try growing Jerusalem Artichokes. They are very easy to grow and will thrive in most conditions with very little care. They produce an abundance of tasty roots that can be eaten like a potato or added to soups and stews for a creamy texture and nutty flavour. Once you have a good patch of Jerusalem Artichokes growing it will provide crops for you year after year. Generally speaking bulbs need little care and attention, but always ensure they have adequate drainage for best performance.
Don't forget to plant your berry canes in June too when stock is available and the canes are dormant. Some delicious ones to plant now include Raspberries, Blackberries, Elderberry & Gooseberry.
Continue making sowings of Winter vegetable seeds. Broad Beans, Cabbage, Spinach, Lettuce, Onion and Peas are suitable for planting in almost all areas now as they thrive in the cooler weather. In tropical regions you can plant Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Carrot, Eggplant, Parsnip, Radish, Silverbeet, Spring Onion and Tomato. Be sure to fill up any leftover spots in the veggie patch with a green manure crop to protect the soil throughout the winter. This will smother weeds and provide plenty of organic matter for you to dig back through the ground in preparation for spring.
If the thought of gardening outdoors in Winter doesn't take your fancy, why not try indoor gardening using a Smart Indoor Garden or growing Sprouts or Microgreens.
Transplant deciduous ornamental and fruiting trees, shrubs and vines while they are dormant. Retain as much of the root system as possible, and cut any roughly severed roots cleanly with secateurs. Have the new planting position ready in advance, incorporating plenty of compost into the planting site with your existing soil. Water the bottom of the planting hole before your shrub goes in to ensure that the bottom of the root ball doesn’t dry out. Put plenty of mulch over the soil once planted, ensuring it is kept away from the stem of the tree or shrub to prevent collar rot.
At this time of year you can also work on pruning up your existing trees, particularly your decidious species that are dormant. You want to make sure that you use clean and sharp tools to do this, to prevent disease setting in. Work on clearing up some of the lower branches on your taller tree species, to open up space underneath which will improve airflow. Be sure to cleanly cut off any dead or diseased branches too. For more tips see our pruning advice here.
Continue to plant Summer-flowering bulbs such as Alstroemerias, Bearded Iris, Canna Lilies, Gladioli, Asiatic Lilies and Lily of the Valley. Produce bulbs are also still in season, including Asparagus, Garlic, Rhubarb, Potatoes, Shallots and Strawberries. For the best results with your bulbs ensure you prepare the planting site well using a garden fork to loosen any compaction in your soil. Finish it off by incorporating some garden compost and well-rotted manure.
Right now the crops that are giving quickest returns are radish and lettuce, but even in cool temperate regions you can still sow many herbs and vegetables such as cabbage, carrot, celery, peas, parsley and broad beans. Now is also a great time to sow members of the onion family, who love the cooler conditions. The easiest to grow are chives, spring onion and garlic chives. Plant in a sheltered spot that receives good sun.
In warmer regions now is the best time to start your tomato seeds to establish an early crop and maximize yields before Summer temperatures climb above 36 Celsius and cause a lack of fruit set. However, whatever climate you live in, you can get an early start to Spring planting season by starting your seeds in a Jiffy Peat Pellet Greenhouse that is placed on top of a HeatPad. This maintains a steady warm soil temperature that is necessary for germinating many of those Spring vegetable and fruit crops. When Spring arrives, plant the seedling pellet and all in the garden. This will avoid transplantation shock, resulting in quicker establishment of the plant and earlier harvest!
We are heading into the last month of winter and if you have an area in your gardening that is bare and eagerly awaiting your spring planting then now is the time to apply your favourite fertiliser, compost/worm castings and a good layer of mulch. If you still have some leafy crops such as winter lettuce, giving these an all purpose liquid feed will kick them along nicely as well.
In the cool areas you can get a head start on your Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Capsicums and even Eggplants by using seedling trays or our Jiffy Peat Pellets/Peat Pots. Either placing these in a spot where they will be well protected and receive a lot of sunlight to keep them warm or use a HeatPad instead. These crops will require a steady warm soil of approximately 20°C or more to germinate optimally. Not only can you get your vegetables under way you can also start your flower seeds such as Marigold, Petunia, Californian Poppy and also Cosmos.
If you are lucky enough to live in a tropical area now would be a great time to sow watermelons, rockmelons, zucchini, tomatoes and cucumbers, beetroot, watercress, rosemary and thyme. Remember that your crops, particularly the fruiting ones will require plenty of sunlight, moisture and nutrition so keep them happy and they will grow plenty of delicious produce in return. You can also plant Jerusalem artichoke, potatoes and radish seeds directly into your soil at this time too.
There is a lovely range of bulbs that are great for planting during August such as Calla Lilies, Dahlia, Oriental Lilies, Hippeastrum and Water Lilies. Make sure to dig the soil over well and mix in fertiliser and organic material such as compost. As your spring flowering bulbs such as Jonquils and Hyacinths start to die off apply a little bit of all-purpose liquid feed around the plants as this will refuel them for next season. Be sure to remove the dead heads of your flowers, leaving only the leaves and stem as keeping this foliage intact means that the bulb can recapture all of the energy stored in the leaves, ensuring that your bulbs get all the nutrients they need to flower beautifully again for you next year.