Plant Life Balance

Charlie Albone on winter gardening

The days are shorter, the temperature is dropping and the wind is getting crisp…which can only mean one thing. Winter is here, and it’s time to get your garden ready.

Brace yourselves, fronds. It’s that time of the year again when you crack out the ugg boots and crank up the heat – which means it’s also time to check in with your gardens, both indoor and out, to make sure they’re ready for the cooler months.

TAKING CARE OF YOUR OUTDOOR GARDEN IN WINTER

One of the more obvious changes between autumn to winter is the change in weather and temperature – and for your outdoor plants, you need to change up your gardening routine accordingly. As Charlie Albone, co-creator of the Plant Life Balance Heaven Scent look and Richgro ambassador, explained to us:

Growth slows as the temperature drops and when there’s less light, so you’ll find many plants become dormant. That’s what makes winter a great time for pruning your deciduous trees and shrubs – it’s much easier to see the shape of the plant.

As the cold sets in, there’s three main things to keep in mind for your winter outdoor garden.

Weather ready

Ever wondered what exactly happens when plants get really, really cold? As Tino Carnevale explains in this fact sheet, the water in their leaves can actually freeze and expand – as the ice thaws, the cell walls in the leaves collapse (which sounds pretty brutal, right?).

This means that in the colder, southern regions of Australia that experience very low temperatures and frost in winter, it’s worth investing time and effort into protecting your outdoor plants from the elements. Consider installing tunnel covers over the top of the plants and mulching around the base of the plants to insulate the soil. It’s also a good idea to refrain from pruning flowering plants in winter, as you risk exposing new growth to frost damage.

Clean up

The change in season is also a good reminder to do a general clean up the yard, if you haven’t already. Rake up fallen leaves, and remove any weeds you can find, trying to get the roots out, too – especially if you’re pulling them by hand. Get rid of old, dead or dying plant material to reduce the risk of pests and diseases getting stuck into your plants. If you have the space, Charlie recommends turning what you’ve cleaned up (minus weeds and diseased offcuts) into compost for the future:

I’m a big fan of composting – winter can be a good time to kick-start that process, because you’ll probably have lots of leaves that can be composted as the weather starts to warm up again in spring to help create an all natural food for your garden.

Get your winter crops in

Just because some plants don’t love the cold, doesn’t mean you should stop planting all together. For those with veggie patches or a spare pot lying around, About The Garden recommends planting these crops in winter:

  • herbs: chives, dill and parsley
  • lettuce
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • dwarf beans
  • radishes
  • kale
  • cherry tomatoes

For more specific guidance on what veggies will grow well in your region, check out this handy guide from Gardening Australia.

TAKING CARE OF YOUR INDOOR GARDEN IN WINTER

Indoor gardens are somewhat less affected by the change in climate than outdoor gardens, but saying that, you should still be adjusting the three fundamentals of care to match the change in season: water, light and nutrition.

Water

Adjust your watering frequency to accommodate for the change in temperature. Cooler weather will mean the moisture in the soil will take longer to evaporate, so remember to check the moisture in the soil by inserting your finger up to the second knuckle  – if it feels moist or cold, hold off on watering.

Light

As the days become shorter from the sun setting earlier, our indoor plants can often receive less natural light. If you’re finding your plants becoming unhappy with the seasonal change, they may need to be moved to a brighter winter location.

Nutrition

As your indoor plants go into their winter dormancy, give them a slow release or organic feed at the beginning of the season. Stop fertilising with liquid fertiliser until the warmer weather comes back.

Just! Keep! Gardening!

Before we go, one final tip – as physical distancing measures ease in the coming months, DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR BEAUTIFUL ISO GARDENS, especially as we slowly slip back into normal routines. As Charlie puts it,

You’ll see the greatest results if you stick to it, just as you would an exercise routine. A little bit every day is amazing if you can spare the time, but even an hour or so every weekend will deliver great benefits – for your garden and for you.

More gardening, more of the time we say. If you need a hand on anything to do with winter gardening, get in touch with your local Plant Life Balance accredited nursery and have a chat with the experts.

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