Cooler weather and preparing for Winter by Charlie Albone

Autumn in Australia is a gardeners dream, the heat of summer is dying down and plants feel less stifled so they start putting on some growth before winter. It’s a great time to get into the garden and enjoy it before the cold slows everything down to a halt. Here are some sure fire tips to enjoy your garden and ensure it is ready for Winter.

Planting – Yes Planting

The soil is warm but the air cool so now is the time to get new shrubs and trees in the ground. The warm soil promotes new root growth and the cooler air means less stress on the leaves so your plants establish well. To maximise this perfect period of growing enrich your soil with Richgro compost or cow manure to aid in holding nutrients and water. I would also apply a dose of Ezi – Wet soil wetter to ensure the new plant gets all the available rain water possible.

You may not see much leaf growth straight away but come next spring these plants will have a definite jump on the rest as the roots will be well established.

Lift and Divide

For the same reasons as planting, now is a great time to lift and divide perennials. For those that have got congested try to dig the whole plant out of the ground, keeping as big a root ball as possible.  Use two forks back to back to prise the root ball apart into various smaller plants. The fork method reduces damage on the roots so several new plants can be re planted and spread around the garden, or even grown on in pots. Feeding with Charlie Carp helps settle the new roots in and works quickly.

When planting or dividing finish the process off with a good quality mulch such as Richgro Pinebark Mulch as this helps keep the roots protected from any coming frosts or dry periods.

Feed for the Winter Ahead

Your deciduous trees and shrubs, those that lose their leaves over winter, are now storing up energy for spring, so if you haven’t already fertilised with a slower release fertiliser such as Richgro Rock Minerals, now is a great time. This will add microbes to your soil as well as nutrients. For big trees soak the ground with a hose for an hour and then use around five to eight watering cans of liquid fertiliser spread evenly on the ground below the tree canopy.

Make your own Soil Improver

Leaf mould is soil improver that can be used in conjunction with compost but is made solely of all the fallen autumnal leaves. Collect yours up and cram them in a black plastic bag as tightly as you can. Then fill the bag with water and put only one or two holes in the bottom. Leave this behind your shed for six months and you will find a great soil conditioner has formed that can be added to your garden beds, used as a mulch around roses or added to Richgro cow manure or Compost to give it a boost and extra structure.

Cut and Trim

If you have a lot of hedges give them a cut back now and use the leaves in the leaf mould. They may have a fresh spurt of growth before winter so don’t worry if you go a bit hard.

Mulching under hedges with Richgro pine bark mulch is also a good idea as it will suppress any weeds that may just be germinating and that way you won’t have to think about your hedges until early spring.

Don’t Forget the Lawn

The lawn could do with a spruce up as well, start by giving it a stiff raking with a metal rake followed by a plastic grass rake to remove any thatch – this is the brown dead material clogging up the lawn.

Aerate by plunging a fork through it at 200mm intervals and then fertilise with Richgro Extra Green Lawn Food and water it in well.

Maintenance

Now is the perfect time to give the tools a bit of maintenance as well, clean air and oil filters in petrol powered tools such as lawn mowers and sharpen blades on hedge shears and secateurs. Just before winter sets in its also a good idea to remove any grime or dried sap from all your tools so they don’t corrode over winter.

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