There are maintenance jobs to do at this time of the year – pruning roses and feeding your spring bulbs with liquid fertilizer come to mind. I guess the leaf raking goes without saying because it is winter. Everything is so sodden and water logged so be careful when you tread on lawn – you don’t want to compact your lawn by walking on it too much. The other usual winter jobs in the garden are pruning lightly pruning any deciduous fruit trees and giving them a spray of neem oil.
If your roses are infected, it would pay to spray them with neem oil. In fact even your ornamentals can do with a spray of neem oil from time to time. It is also good time to plant summer lilies. Talking about planting – a few weeks back I planted garlic and potatoes. You are meant to plant garlic on the shortest day to harvest on the longest day. Both garlic and potatoes require heavy feeding and well-draining soil. I have planted some in soil and some in pots. Garlic is a first for me and seems promising with the shoots appearing already.
For winter colour, you can’t go past cyclamen and primulas. They are just so bright and cheery and once you plant, they require the odd feed once every few weeks and reward you with their cheerful blooms weeks on end.
I do use a lot of herbs in my cooking so I have also planted Italian Parsley, sage and rosemary all in pots and placed them on the patio where the afternoon sun comes. I did the mistake of planting mint in my garden and it grows wild everywhere. Just as well I love the freshness mint delivers be it for sweet or savoury dishes or Friday night drinks so I don’t feel bad.
When I was working, I did not have enough time to care for my citrus and even though I have a few in the garden, they never fruited. Now I can tell you that I have learnt the art of taking care of them so they are fruiting abundantly. Here are my tips:
Citrus are hungry and big feeders. You may need to feed them with a citrus fertilizer three times a year. When the tree is giving out new shoots and flowers, I feed it a generous amount of Epsom salts (the variety you buy in the supermarket). Every time you feed make sure you spread the fertilizer around and water it in. During dry season, you must not forget to water once every few days at least. Lastly, I mulch them with pea straw – spread the pea straw around the tree leaving some space empty around the trunk. If you feel the leaves are curling, then give it a spray of neem oil.
The geraniums I planted towards end of summer are still going strong and adding some brightness to the patio. I dead head them regularly and feed liquid fertilizer once every three to four weeks. A couple of months back they got a bad case of caterpillar infestation and yes I hand-picked the caterpillars out but also sprayed with my trusted neem oil.