Cold weather has arrived! Strictly speaking, Sydney does not have cold winters, but we can certainly have cold days each year. Some higher locations will even run the risk of light frost. As growth slows down and the need for pruning and watering drops away, it’s all about getting stuck in and caught up on some important maintenance tasks.

  • Now is a great time to amend your ornamental garden beds with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure. Spread a thin layer over any garden bed and gently rake or tickle into the top layer of soil with a garden fork. There’s no need to dig the soil over, as soil organisms like worms will do the job for you without damaging any existing roots.
  • In the productive garden, plant out your winter veg – crops like leeks, beets, brassicas, carrots and kale will keep your crisper stocked through to early summer if you start now. Before you plant, don’t forget to amend your veggie beds with organic matter, and lay down a nice layer of a mulch like pea straw, or even old lawn clippings (make sure they are already dry and decomposing) – but be careful not to bury your seedlings!
  • If you’ve got an irrigation system, it’s time to adjust the rate and frequency of watering downwards. If you’re not sure how much your system should be watering, a qualified horticulturalist will be able to tell you what your plants will need. Although many plants will need less water over winter, do keep a careful eye out – Sydney has relatively dry winters and even on cool days, plants can suffer if the soil has insufficient water to support them.
  • Plant root activity will slow down as the soil temperature decreases. This means fertiliser applied to the soil will become less effective for the duration of winter. If you do find your plants need a boost – for example, your fruiting lemons – a foliar feed with a dilute liquid fertiliser can be an effective way to get nutrients where they’re needed. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions with any garden product to avoid over- or under-applying.

Image courtesy of John Feder