It might seem contradictory, given that everything slows down in the garden during the winter months, but the start of winter is actually an important time to get some maintenance jobs done out in the patch. Lisa Davis runs through four tasks worth doing, before you go into hibernation along with your plants.
Rake and tidy
If your garden’s anything like mine, it will be covered in autumn leaves. The last thing you want is them rotting in piles all winter, making pathways slippery and nooks and crannies unsightly, so rake them all up, along with any twigs and sticks that are waiting to scratch or trip someone. The twigs can go in your home compost bin, if you have one, but don’t try to put larger sticks in there, as they can take a very long time to break down – best put those in your green bin.
Don’t let the weeds take over before spring. Pull them out now before they spend the winter strengthening their roots and getting ready to turn into triffids as soon as the weather warms up.
Although people tend to associate spring and autumn with pruning, there are actually a few plants that benefit from a trim at this time of year, such as roses and wisteria. If you didn’t get around to pruning the citrus in autumn, consider doing it now, especially if you see any sign of gall wasp. Do not put those bumps into the green waste, though; seal them in plastic and put them in the regular rubbish, to prevent them spreading.
Always clean your pruning tools after use (you don’t need anything fancier than warm soapy water and a scourer) to avoid spreading any nasties, and once they’re dry, give them a rub with some vegetable oil to prevent rust.
This is the time to plant bare-rooted fruit trees, giving them plenty of opportunity to establish themselves before the stress of summer. You don’t need to forget about your veggie patch at this time of year, either – leafy options such as lettuce, spinach, silverbeet and Asian greens will usually do ok, and you can get root vegetables like carrots and beetroot started.