Maintenance, Pruning, Winter

Pruning season

 Winter is the best time to prune your deciduous trees, and unsightly shrubs, as this is when the plant is dormant or at its slowest growth point.

Pruning can be a daunting prospect for the inexperienced, but it’s really not that difficult. Even if you make a mistake, your plants will be forgiving.

The first thing that you need to do is ensure that you have clean and sharp tools. You may use a pruning knife (suitable for smaller branches and roses), secateurs (suitable for small branches) and a pruning saw (suitable for larger branches/bigger jobs).  Make sure that you are wearing a long shirt, and a sturdy pair of garden gloves. (I recommend that you wear glasses to protect your eyes).

  1. Remove any dead branches, flowers and leaves.
  2. Remove any canes (branches), which are growing in towards the centre of the plant. (You are aiming for a vase shape – unless you are cutting a topiary).
  3. Cut back the remaining canes (branches) by up to two-thirds.
  4. Cut above a knot in the branch.
  5. Fertilise the plant if it needs it.

Happy Pruning!

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Bees, flowers

Bees and more bees.

Here in Australia we are quite lucky in that we aren’t suffering from the significant drop off in the bee population experienced in other countries – and we don’t want to!

Bees are an essential element in your garden. Without bees, there is no pollination. Without pollination, there’s no fruit. Even if you aren’t a huge flower fan, it’s important to have some flowering plants in you garden, to support the ecosystem. Try adding at least some of the following to your garden:

Herbs:

  • Borage
  • Catmint
  • Coriander
  • Lavender
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Perennials:

  • Anemone
  • Aster
  • Bottle Brush
  • Buttercup
  • Crocus
  • Geranium
  • Grevillia
  • Hollyhocks
  • Sun drops

Annuals:

  • Calendula
  • Cleome
  • Heliotrope
  • Poppy
  • Sunflower
  • Zinnia

Seasonal guide, Winter

Things to do in Winter

Winter is here. Yes, I know, it’s hard to believe that we are almost half way through another year.

So, what do I need to do throughout the colder months to keep the garden in good shape? Here are a few suggestions:

What to plant:
Salad Vegetables: Asian Greens, Lettuce, Endive, Salad Greens, Silver Beet, Spinach, Herbs
Legumes: Beans, Peas
Root Vegetables: Beetroot, Potatoes, Radishes, Parsnips 

Berries: Raspberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Strawberries
Fruit Trees: Cherries, Apples, Pears, Citrus, Stone Fruits

Jobs to do:

  • Weeding
  • Clean tools
  • Clean out potting shed
  • Check use by dates on seeds and garden products
  • Work on paths, check garden edging
  • Outdoor maintenance
  • Prune fruit trees

For more information go to the Winter page of this blog and download the Winter Fact Sheet. 

Garden Photos, gardening

Tour of the gardens of Government House, Melbourne

When my friend, Terri, suggested that we do the tour of the Government House gardens, I was more than happy to participate. And what a great morning it was. We walked around the lawns, gardens and kitchen garden of the property, and were provided with a wonderful commentary from head gardener, Michael. It’s well worth the time, and entry is free. For more information go to: Government House Garden Tours

Here are some photos from the day:

Autumn gardening, Fertiliser, Manure

Let’s Talk About Manure

No, I’m not referring to the Australian Federal election process (and candidates), I’m talking about fertiliser.

If you are planning on growing vegetables over the winter (and into the spring), then now is the time to make sure that you have adequate fertiliser mixed into your soil.

I am a big fan of organic fertilisers, and one of my preferred options is manure.

Manure makes a great fertiliser. It is natural, breaks down well, and helps to condition your soil by adding nutrients and assisting with water storage.

When using manure, dig it into your garden, with a garden fork, as soon as you can as manure loses its nutrients if it is left sitting.

It is important that the manure you use is produced by an animal with a vegetarian diet – no dung from cats, dogs, humans or other carnivores.

You can collect manure from your own animals (chooks for example), buy packaged bags (pellets or pieces) from a nursery, or collect a bag from a rural ride side stall.

The three most common types of garden manure are: Cow, Horse and Chook.

Cow: Good all purpose manure, not too high in nutrients, but is well rotted so good for sensitive plants.

Chook:(My favourite) High in nutrients, high phosphorous. Great for lawns, veg and flower gardens. Not great for long-term use on native plants.

Horse:Moderate level of nutrients, good for vegetable and flower beds.

Happy fertilising! And if you are in Australia, then don’t forget to vote. You can’t complain about the government if you didn’t have your say 🙂