Winter is here! It’s been icy cold. We are apparently in for a very cold winter this year. This feels even more like a shock after the warm summer we’ve had. However, the cold is said to sweeten up some of our favourite vegetables so all is not lost!
Sow from seed this month: Garlic, Peas, Broad Beans, Chard, Silverbeet, Spinach
Plant from punnets this month: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbages, Kale, Lettuce, Spinach, Silverbeet
This month will mark the shortest day of the year, which means a lot less sun for our gardens. The growth of our vegetables will slow down dramatically and in some cases stop completely. Bear this in mind when sowing and planting this month. You probably won’t see any real growth changes until the soil warms up, closer to spring.
Now that the focus isn’t on planting vegetables, it’s a good time to take care of your fruit trees, especially the deciduous ones.
If your trees suffered from fungal diseases such as curly leaf, blackspot or oozing wounds, now is the time to treat them. Fungal spores can harbour over winter and reinfect your trees next season. Spraying your infected trees with a copper spray (following the diluting instructions exactly!) and once again at the end of winter before the new buds burst can help tackle these problems.
Never mix copper with any other fungicide sprays. As with any fungicides, take care when using it and wear appropriate protection and be cautious with any runoff. Copper, for example, is toxic to fish.
If bugs such as thrips were a big issue you can also spray a horticultural oil on your tree which will smother the eggs that are hiding in the trees crevices. Copper spray and horticultural oil are fine to be sprayed alongside each other. Clear underneath your trees too and get rid of any decaying, fallen leaves. More than just fungal infections can hide there, like thrips for example. Once you have cleared under your trees, give them a good helping of compost and organic matter (aged manure, chopped seaweed, leaf mould…).
Protect your vulnerable trees from frosts, such as young citrus or avocado. You can easily make a frost cover enclosure by hammering in a few wooden stakes and wrapping frost cloth around it when you know it will be a cold night. In the evening, check if there are clouds in the sky. If it’s a clear night, it will be a be a frosty, clear morning too.
It’s a good time now to plant fruit trees too, especially citrus and feijoa. Just remember to keep those young citrus protected. Feijoa, fortunately, are hardier.
Plant Garlic (if you haven’t yet done so)
Planting your garlic on the shortest day of the year is tradition so by all means, plant it then. I have chosen to plant mine early this year to hopefully avoid the dreaded garlic rust. I’ll have to wait and see the outcome.
Feed your vegetables
Give your vegetables a monthly fertiliser boost with a liquid fertiliser to keep them strong in winter. They don’t need it as often as in summer as the growth is so slow, but it will help promote stronger roots and defences against winter bugs and pathogens.
Stay warm, and happy gardening!