What to do
If you have deciduous trees or shrubs that are in the wrong position, now is the time to move them. Dig out as much of the root ball as possible without disturbing the roots too severely and soak them in a solution of Seasol (see back of pack for dilution rates). Plant them into organically-rich soil and they should thrive in their new location.
Keep warm with a little winter pruning. Now is a good time to prune deciduous trees of heavy branches before winter storms set in. Make sure you do this safely; where possible, prune using an extendable pruner to limit the need for climbing ladders, one of the biggest causes of injuries in the garden. See our article on winter pruning here.
Collect fallen leaves and add them to your compost pile with some chicken manure and stale, mouldy bread. The manure and bread hastens the breakdown of organic matter, leaving you with an amazing soil improver for plantings come spring. You can also shred all green waste from pruning as this as a valuable recycled, homegrown mulch.
While winter is not too bad in terms of pests and diseases in the garden, you may find a few problems arising now. Citrus leaf miner may show up on your blossoming lemons, limes and oranges. Control this grub with pest oil, applied on dry days. Deciduous trees may become affected by leaf curl now. If so, spray with copper oxychloride to get it under control.
Bring tropical foliage plants indoors to keep them warm. As an added bonus, they will brighten up your living space and clean the air for you while they are on their little holiday!
What to plant
Now is the time to plant deciduous fruit trees from newly arrived bare-rooted stock from your local garden centre. Look for trees that are well-balanced (the top about the same size as the root ball) and free of obvious damage. Aim to plant your new trees as soon as you get them home. Giving them a soak in a diluted solution of Seasol and water while you prepare the planting holes will help get them off to a good start. Plant them at around the same depth they were before they were removed from the ground for sale (you should be able to see the mark on the stem still). Water the new trees in well and give them a dose of slow-release fertiliser to help them establish strongly.
Even though it is getting cold, there are still some colourful beauties you can add to the garden. Larkspurs, Delphiniums, Cinererias and pansys will give you lovely late-winter-early spring colour if planted now.
In the vegetable garden, the cooler months are perfect for planting potatoes, as well as other root vegetables such as turnips, swedes, beetroot and carrots. Other classic winter crops are of course the brassicas – broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower – as well as leafy crops such as spinach, lettuce and Asian greens.
Use your fresh limes in this tasty dish from our book Delish – From Garden to Table, available here.
LIME SOY MARINATED CHICKEN
- 1kg chicken wings, tips removed
- ¼ C lime juice
- 1 T white wine vinegar
- 2 T brown sugar
- 2 t soy sauce
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- ½ C spring onions, sliced
- 2 limes, thinly sliced
- ½ C water
- ¼ C white sugar
- ½ t white wine vinegar
Place chicken wings in a plastic bag. Mix lime juice, vinegar, sugar and soy sauce and pour into the bag. Seal and toss to coat the chicken. Allow to rest for a minimum of half and hour (or overnight). Add oil to a hot wok then add the chicken, retaining the remaining marinade. Stir-fry the chicken until it is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Toss in spring onions and stir-fry for a minute. Pour in the reserved marinade and stir constantly to heat through and cover the chicken pieces. Remove the chicken to a warm platter. Add the sliced lime and water to the sauce and simmer to partially cook the lime. Add sugar and vinegar and cook until the sauce is thick. Serve the chicken with fresh lime wedges and the sauce.
For your state-by-state guide, please see our Seasonal Garden Guide on the right-hand side of the homepage.