It sure is cold at night! This month we need to focus on keeping our plants warm in our winter garden as the weather rapidly cools.
What to sow this month from seed: broad beans, garlic, lettuce, onion, silver beet, peas, kale and spinach
What to plant this month from seedlings: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, spinach, lettuce, silver beet
Keep your plants warm
Frost cloths are brilliant for throwing over your frost sensitive plants when a cold night is predicted. Citrus trees are one of those sensitive plants that really benefit from a frost cover, especially young citrus trees.
The winter vegetables I have listed at the top of the page are all pretty frost hardy but it’s still beneficial to keep the roots warmer with mulching. I like to use homemade mulch first and foremost to keep costs down in the garden. Shredded leaves are always a fantastic option. Plants around your garden that need to be pruned or trimmed? Use those off cuttings as instant mulch. Grass clippings, left to dry a bit first, work great too.
Store bought mulches can be good too if you’re not into homemade. Pea straw is my number one pick as when it breaks down it releases nitrogen back into the soil. Tui Mulch and Feed is a good one too as it contains nutrients for your plants as well as being a bit more of a substantial mulch that won’t break down as fast as pea straw. Straw works too, though make sure it is actually straw and not hay, as hay can still contain grass and weed seeds and you don’t want that spread around the garden.
Now is still a good time to get some seedlings into your garden if you haven’t done so yet, or add more to stretch out your harvest. Kale is an especially good winter green as it’s very tolerant of the cold.
Winter vegetables like cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, parsnips and beets are meant to taste sweeter after a frost. This is because the cold frost triggers the plants to increase the amount of sugar in their cells which the plants use as a protection.
One more thing…
Prune your roses towards the end of this month for an extra beautiful display come spring. Cut back any dead wood, all the way back to healthy wood (which you will see by the green stem and white pith inside) and remove any suckers growing from the root stock. Give your roses a feed, rich in potassium by blitzing up the peels of bananas with water and making a nutrient packed mush. Add this around your roses and mulch them.