From Michael Coulter

Winter has arrived and the weather is its usual mixture of wet, cold and windy. The sunshine hours are below the average for this time of the year too, making it feel much colder and wetter than it really is. Strong winds have caused damage to the trees and other plants in the garden. Its important to repair this damage as soon as possible, do this by pruning out the broken branches to healthy wood.

As March and April were very wet the soil has gone into Winter very wet too, take care when working the ground so as not to cause any damage to its structure.

July and August are the traditional months for pruning many plants such as roses, apples, pears and other deciduous varieties. I recommend pruning on fine sunny days, with a follow up copper spray as a protection from any disease infection.

We can do some planting when the weather is fine enough such as fruit trees, strawberries, berry fruits and garlic. Lily bulbs need to be planted now too, remember to provide good drainage (such as sand) at the base of the bulb when planting.

Towards the end of the month you can sow in a green house some of the hardy vegetables like brassicas, lettuce and silverbeet. If you have some bottom heat, try tomatoes so that by the end of August/early September you will have seedlings ready for planting. Early potatoes may also be chitted, ready for planting in August.  Repairs to green houses should be completed by the end of the month so that they can be ready for the early Spring plantings.

The lawns always look their worst at this time of the year, often appearing yellow/brown with grass grub infestation also becoming visible. There is not much that can be done until the ground begins to warm up and the grass begins to grow again. Try to keep off the grass as much as possible, especially when there is a frost, to avoid any more damage to the lawn.

When buying new plants always get the strongest healthy plants of the best quality, even if they cost a little bit more as they are more likely to be a success. Stay warm and enjoy your garden.

For any gardening queries or advice throughout the month refer to our online facebook group which will be monitored over that time.

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