Late winter is all about preparation: getting seeds ready, building up soil and making plans so you can hit the ground running next month.
- Moving: Soil is wet, so plants that are are in the wrong place can be moved without too much shock. Stake and mulch them well afterwards.
- Weeding: One reason weeds are so successful is they start growing a wee bit ahead of many garden plants. Staying on top of weeds saves a lot of work later in the summer; catch them before they seed and you’ll also notice fewer weeds each year. (Also, baby weeds without seeds are better material for the compost heap). At the moment soil is moist, releasing roots easily, and the gaps where weeds are pulled out heal quickly (in my gardens, 'good weeds’ - other self-sowers like calendula - will rapidly grow to fill in any bare patches, forming a live mulch.) Cover any other gaps with other sorts of mulch (see below).
- Planting: There’s just time to get shrubs in the ground to get roots down by January, when things get dry. Add something water-retentive to the planting hole: wet newspaper, seaweed or compost, to hold water around the root zone.
- Fruit trees: Finish pruning grapes, figs, roses and pipfruit. Prune citrus, and feijoas if you missed them in autumn. Mulch with good compost or seaweed. Plant the last fruit trees. If you had leaf curl last year on stonefruit, spray with copper before they blossom.
- Mulch up around the stems of brassicas (eg broccoli, cabbage), especially if they’re rocking around in the wind. Mulch any gaps in your beds - it keeps away weeds, feeds worms, protects the soil from rain and slowly melts into humus.
Sow: Prepare seeds for spring sowings. You can start seeds off in August if you have shelter (a cold frame or greenhouse): peas, any greens, early tomatoes and beans. Start carrots and beets under a cloche. Grow microgreens on a sunny windowsill.
Plant: Garlic, borage, calendula, greens - bok choy, silver beet, lettuce, miners lettuce, land cress, silver beet.
The Council Green Gardener, Hannah Zwartz, offers sustainable and waterwise gardening advice to local residents, community groups and schools.
Community Visits and workshops are free.
To contact the Greener Gardener, call the Council on 296 4700 or 0800 486486 or see www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/greenservices
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