Have you been out into your garden recently? I don’t mean the quick dash up the front path, but down the back? With the winter days being cold and grey and all the plants are looking a bit tattered and weather worn; it can be hard to muster enthusiasm for the garden. In cold, northern hemisphere climates gardens virtually shut down over winter. Gardening tasks revolve around preventing squirrels from robbing seeds from the bird feeder. But that’s not true for Australian winter gardening.
Winter is an exciting time to be outside. Okay, perhaps not if it’s raining, but most of the time you can find a sheltered spot to do some therapeutic gardening to chase away the winter blues. Indeed, even five minutes outdoors can lift your spirits. Studies released in scientific journals have shown that a short walk or a spot of gardening does wonders for your mental and physical wellbeing.
And the cooler conditions means you can take on some tasks that raise a sweat, such as laying a new path or digging a pond. If they sound a bit too hard, here are some quick winter jobs to get you outdoors and active.
1. Rake the leaves and pick up twigs, sticks and bark.
This is a winter job that can involve all the family and warms you as you work. Drifts of fallen leaves and bark, along with twigs and sticks, accumulate on lawns and paths over winter. Rake leaves, bark and small twigs for mulch or to add to the compost heap. Sticks needs to be broken up or use them instead to light indoor winter fires, for a family barbecue or as plant support.
2. Aerate the lawn
Many lawns are compacted and weedy after the long drought. Aerating now lets moisture into the soil so you can begin to rejuvenate the lawn in spring.
- Use a garden fork or hire a powered aerator.
- Top dress with a fine layer of coarse sand or loam.
- Fertilise in spring.
- If rain is puddling and not soaking in, even after aeration, apply a hose-on soil wetting agent.
3. Dig the vegie garden & plant new crops
Provided your soil isn’t sodden, winter can be a great time to dig a new vegie or garden bed or to turn in green manure crops to get the garden ready for planting in spring. It’s also a good time to pull or hoe out weeds and cut back invasive plants.
There’s still plenty of time to grow some tasty fresh vegetables in your garden. Plant snow peas, English spinach or some mini vegies, such as small-headed cabbage or cut-and-come-again lettuce.
4. Prune and tidy
While plants are bare you can more easily remove dead or crowded growth or spot invasive climbers and remove them. Don’t prune late winter or spring-flowering shrubs but do get stuck into roses and grapevines.
5. Cheer yourself with potted colour
Plant up a couple of pots with annuals. Choose pansies or polyanthus that are already in flower for an instant show. Water well after planting and keep in bloom by deadheading and watering every 10 days with a liquid plant food. Source.