Gardening Tips - Winter

- Harvesting vegetables

Winter is a great time to harvest those root crop veggies for delicious hot soups and chasing away the cold. Harvest your root vegetables such as carrots, beetroot, potatoes, garlic, radish and turnips.

The onion family (spring onions, leeks, brown onions and red onions) grow well in winter. A useful tip is to plant onions (alliums) around the perimeter of your vegetable garden, like a ring of defensive, smelly, pest control. Another great benefit is that the moles do not like the smell either.

Plant companion plants like rosemary with the brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts), peas with carrots, parsley with lettuce, beetroot with swiss chard / spinach, and potatoes with mint (although remember mint's invasiveness warrants it be planted in a submerged pot).

Gardening tips

- Frost protection

We are moving into winter time and the past few weeks have brought on spells of really cold weather. Any time there is a threat of frost, you will need to take precautionary measures to protect tender plants from exposure to cold temperatures and subsequent damage.

  • Covering plants - Covering tender garden plants in the evening will help retain heat and protect them from freezing. Almost anything will work, but old blankets, sheets, and even burlap sacks are best. It is important that the covers be removed once the sun comes out the following morning, otherwise the plants may fall victim to suffocation.

  • Watering plants - Another way to protect plants is by giving them a light watering a day or two before the frost is expected. Wet soil will hold more heat than soil that is dry. Light watering in the evening hours, before temperatures drop, will help raise humidity levels and reduce frost damage.

  • Mulching plants - Mulch helps to lock in moisture and during cold weather, holds in heat. When using mulch, try to keep the depth at about 5 - 7cm. Popular mulching materials that can be used include straw, pine needles, bark and loosely piled leaves.

  • Cold frames for plants - Some tender plants actually require over-wintering in a cold frame or indoors. Cold frames can be purchased at most garden centers or built easily at home. For a quick, temporary frame, simply stack baled hay or straw around your tender plants and apply an old window to the top.

  • Raised beds for plants - Cold air tends to collect in sunken areas rather than higher mounds, so raised beds will help prevent frost, and also makes covering plants easier.

The best way to know what type of precautionary measure you should take for tender garden plants is knowing their individual needs. The more you know the better off your garden and tender plants will be.

Gardening tips

- Shade analysis

As the year goes by and the seasons change, the characteristics of our landscapes change with it. In winter time the suns trajectory in the sky is lowered by about 15 degrees. This lower sun arc will impact on the extent of shade spots and sun spots on the landscape accordingly.

During the depths of winter, spend a bit of time outdoors - in the morning, midday and early evenings - to see where the sun reaches and how far the shade has extended into the garden, away from the walls and nearer or further away from the house.

Moisture and the temperature of the soil will change too with the movements of the sun and shade patterns. Keep a note of all of these characteristics, as they will affect the choice of plants that are planned, purchased and planted during Spring and Summer.

Winter Gardening Tips - Shade

- Bonsai Care

During winter, deciduous trees bare their souls, showing how well (or not) ramification has developed during the growing season. Watch out for snails and slugs on the prowl, killing healthy leaves on bonsai - especially in the Cape.

During July, when the trees are totally bare, start with winter pruning and complete any major reconstructions before new shoots are formed again in spring.

Also start with re-potting the deciduous trees before they shoot new leaves. The time to re-pot Japanese maples and Swamp Cypresses is June/July. White Stinkwood/Chinese Hackberry, Acacias, Elms, Bougainvilleas and Chinese maples can be re-potted in July/August, while Olives can be re-potted from May to August.

Remember not to feed during the winter months, except indoor bonsai such as Figs and Brush Cherries which may be fed with a weak solution of Nitrosol.

For more information on pruning your bonsai, contact Heine from Bonsai Care SA

Bonsai Pruning

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