In the Garden ... with Greg

Winter Calendar

Even though the lawn isn�t calling for your immediate attention every weekend that's not an excuse to stay inside. The garden can be an exciting time over the winter months and there are lots of jobs to do.

Care for your garden tools.

  • Treat all wooden handles with linseed oil to nourish the timber (reduces splinters).

  • Clean and sharpen all blades, including the ones on the mower.

Propagate new plants

  • Make hardwood (last season�s growth) cuttings of many shrubs, e.g. roses, lavender, fuchsias, hydrangeas,

  • Protect cuttings under a plastic cover to increase humidity.

Start a compost bin.

  • Add layers of material and include some animal manure to increase the temperature and microbial activity in the bin.

Monitor and perhaps decrease watering of indoor plants over winter.

  • Repot if they have become root bound.

  • Wipe dust off leaves regularly and position plants away from draughts or the heater.

Select and plant new roses into well-prepared soil.

  • Transplant azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons.

  • Take a wide root ball as they have surface roots.

  • Don�t fertilise or prune heavily as this encourages new growth, which may increase the stress and shock.

  • Use half-strength liquid seaweed as a planting tonic.

Feed it

  • Spring flowering bulbs prefer a dressing of bulb food as they finish flowering in late winter/early spring.

  • Bulbs make food and store nutrients for the following season�s flowering, as the current season�s leafy growth matures and then starts to die back.

  • Winter and spring flowering seedlings respond to fertiliser addition before planting and a month or so after; they also love regular liquid feeds every 2-3 weeks.

  • Nip off all the spent flowers to keep them blooming.

  • Apply azalea and camellia food to azaleas with yellow veining in the leaves.

  • Liquid feed all winter vegetables and add organic matter like your own compost or stable manure to any fallow areas of the vegetable patch in preparation for spring planting.

Grass it

  • In areas that receive high foot or vehicle traffic (best avoided completely) lawn coring (aeration) can help improve the vigour of the lawn and moisture penetration to the soil.

  • Watch for broad-leaf weeds and winter grass in the lawn, use a selective herbicide for lawns, or simply pull them out by hand as they appear.

  • If you have a running-type grass lawn with bare patches, transplant some runners now.

  • Don�t be too quick to feed a yellowing lawn over winter � it may not be hungry, just cold and dormant (depending on type). Wait until you see new growth after winter to fertilise if you feel you need to.

  • Use a small amount of a micro-granular form with a slow release action to prevent nutrients from dissolving too readily and ending up in our waterways.

Prune it

  • Plants can look straggly at this time of year but patience should be exercised in frost-prone districts.

  • Early pruning of cold-sensitive plants can lead to extra damage of new growth as the old foliage helps protect the soft, new growth below.

  • Tidy and deadhead camellias, again tip-pruning each year, as soon as flowers are finished, prevents straggly, woody growth.

  • As natives finish blooming, remember that deadheading and light pruning all over encourages lovely new growth and a neat, bushy habit.

  • Rhododendrons and azaleas should be tip-pruned to deadhead as they finish flowering.

  • Trim out any dead wood from the centre of the plant at the same time.

  • Canna lilies can be pruned now to remove all old growth. Simply prune old canes off just above ground level and allow the young shoots at the base the space to develop.

  • Hydrangeas can be selectively cut back hard on the canes that flowered this year. Cut back to two sets of leaf buds from the base of the plant.

  • Prune apples, nectarines, peaches, pears, nashi fruit and plum trees now.

Plant it

  • Plant strawberry runners or seedlings into raised beds or pots with quality potting mix now.

  • For a burst of instant colour to get you through winter, plant primula, pansies, polyanthus, primroses and cinerarias.

  • Bare-root or potted, plant all deciduous trees and shrubs such as roses, lilacs, cornus, viburnum plicatum, hawthorn, oaks, maples, ornamental pears and all blossom trees.

  • Select and plant fruit trees, including the many dwarf varieties that are suitable for even the tiniest back garden. Be sure to choose a suitable pollinating partner as well.

Planting guide

The lists below are intended to provide inspiration for planting flowers and vegetables in your garden now. In very cold areas, seedlings will need protection or may be best delayed until the danger of frost has passed. These recommendations are general; Always seek the expert advice from your local Mitre 10 store as to the best varieties of the following favourites, recommended for planting in your area.

Also, you can read and learn more about the 20 Best Indoor Herb Garden Kits.

For temperate zones in early winter

In warm climates the range of suitable plants is much larger, including ageratum, cosmos, cornflowers, gaillardia, gazanias, geraniums, gerberas, impatiens, French marigolds, petunias, phlox, portulaca, salvias, snapdragons and verbenas and zinnias.

  • Candytuft

  • Canterbury bells

  • Dianthus

  • Delphinium

  • English daisies

  • Gypsophila

  • Hollyhocks

  • Larkspurs

  • Linaria

  • Livingstone daisy

  • Lobelia

  • Lupin

  • Nigella � Love in the mist

  • Pansies

  • Polyanthus

  • Poppies

  • Primulas

  • Primroses

  • Statice

  • Violas

Vegetables to grow now


  • Asparagus (crowns)

  • Cress

  • Lettuce

  • Mustard

  • Onions

  • Peas, dwarf and

  • climbing

  • Rhubarb (crowns)

  • Rocket

  • Spinach

  • Silver beet


  • Artichokes

  • Asparagus

  • Beetroot

  • Broad beans

  • Cabbages

  • Carrots

  • Chinese cabbages

  • Cress

  • Lettuce

  • Mustard

  • Spring onions

  • Parsnips

  • Peas, dwarf and climbing

  • Potatoes

  • Rhubarb (crowns)

  • Shallots

  • Silver beet


  • Asparagus

  • Beans, dwarf and

  • climbing

  • Beetroot

  • Broad beans

  • Broccoli

  • Sugarloaf cabbage

  • Carrots

  • Endive

  • Lettuce

  • Spring onions

  • Parsnips

  • Peas, dwarf and climbing

  • Potatoes

  • Radish

  • Rhubarb (crowns)

  • Shallots

  • Silver beet

  • Spinach

  • Tomatoes




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