Don’t let the colder weather deter you from getting out in your garden. There’s plenty you can be doing right now, from planting winter flowers to composting.
Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale and winter lettuces can all be planted out now. Remember to mulch around them to keep the weeds down. Watch out for slugs and snails – apply slug bait or use an organic beer bait to trap them.
It’s also time for broad beans to go in. If you’ve already got yours established, check to see they aren’t falling over. Stake them at each end, and wind string between the stalks to give them support.
June is also traditionally the time to plant out your garlic – on the shortest day. But I keep hearing about people doing this slightly earlier each year, with lots of success. Really any time between May – July is suitable.
It’s almost strawberry planting time to ensure your summer supply. If you’re planting new seedlings, remember that they will be most productive in their second year. If you’re already got established strawberry plants, give them a tidy up. Divide your plants, and remove the runners. You do this by keeping the newly grown plants off the runners (the little stems running off that go on to make new plants) closest to your main clump. Remove the other runners and new plants and dispose of them or transplant them on to new places in your garden.
It’s also time to tidy up your asparagus patches. Your unpicked spears will have grown into ferns, some reaching over a meter high. Once they’ve dried off, trim them back to ground level. Then weed and mulch your patch. You can wait until the new spears start coming in spring before needing to apply any fertiliser.
Sort out your pots and hanging baskets with some winter colour from flowering annuals. Violas, pansies and lobelia are all great places to start. For larger garden beds, try ornamental kale with carex grasses slotted in between.
It’s also a good time of year to plant out any citrus trees or native plants, while the soil isn’t too wet.
Look to your roses. You can start pruning any time from now, depending on where you live. If you’re not sure, the NZ Rose society puts great free demonstrations on each year throughout the country, on how to prune. Check their website for dates.
Before you do start your pruning, spray your roses with a lime sulphur. This helps clear disease (rust, scale, black spot) and sends the rose into a dormant state.
And finally, keep raking those leaves. Run the lawn mower over them (for faster breakdown) and then add to the compost heap. If you don’t have a large heap, have a go at rubbish bag leaf-mould composting. Press as many leaves as possible into a heavy-duty plastic rubbish bag. Perforate with a few holes, and add a bit of water to dampen, and some lime. Store in an unused area, out of the sun, for around a year. Try to turn the leaves in the bag a couple times, and add a bit more water. You’ll know it’s ready when it has an earthy smell. Then dig the leaf mould through your soil to increase its soil structure, beneficial bacteria and water retention. Save your bags for re-use next time.