Gardening tips for a Canberra winter with Tracey Bool

Canberra gardening expert and leading horticulturist Tracey Bool.

Growing vegetables in your garden over winter is no picnic. Freezing mornings and a lack of warm sunshine are enough to deter healthy plants from thriving. To help you keep your thumbs green in the cold (instead of blue in the cold), Tracey Bool, local gardening expert and leading horticulturist, shares her top tips for winter gardening.

What are your top tips for growing your garden during the Canberra winter?

“First of all, at this time of year it is difficult to grow vegetables. Ideally, with winter vegetables, you will start growing seeds in February or March.

“Hearty vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are great to grow, and you can transplant artichokes and asparagus, sow fava bean and pea seeds, and you can transplant silver beet and spinach seedlings.

“It is important to remember that if you buy seedlings from a nursery, you will need to condition them before planting them. To do this, you just need to accustom them to local conditions for about a week before planting them.

“For existing products that have been put in place, you can put liquid organic fertilizer in them every fortnight to keep them in good condition during the winter.

“For frost-sensitive plants, or those planted a little later in the season, you can apply temporary ‘cloches’ to them, like a frost wipe. Just cut off the bottom of a pop container and put it on.

“With citrus fruits, if you have them in pots, you can move them somewhere a little more protected, like a yard. There’s not much you can do in the middle of winter except put put in place protection for certain plants, use fertilizer every two weeks and dress the existing beds with organic matter.This last layer helps to nourish the soil and the plants.

What about indoor plants?

Anthurium is an attractive plant to grow indoors over winter in Canberra.

“Good plants to grow are philodendrons, anthuriums and sphathiphyllums. Houseplants need less water than they usually would in the summer, and they don’t need too much attention. Dusting the leaves is good, and you can use a liquid fertilizer designed for houseplants that isn’t too strong.

“You can have problems with fungus gnats at this time of year – it’s quite common. To keep them under control, try not to overwater your plants and especially don’t sit them in water. You can remove the top piece of potting soil and replace it, because that’s where their seeds are and where they breed on the surface. Or put a small layer of pebbles on top of your pot.

“Hardy plants are your best bet in winter, whether vegetable or ornamental, but don’t plant anything but hardy plants. But in general I would say avoid planting until it starts to warm up in the spring.

“Winter is a good time for cleaning, maintaining and sharpening tools. I recommend you go and talk to your local nursery for advice before planting.

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