As the weather starts to get colder it is a good time to start planning some winter protection for the plants in your garden, especially those that are more sensitive to the colder months. Thinking ahead can help prevent damage and even death, which apart from stopping your garden looking like a death zone can save you a lot of expensive replacement planting next spring.
A good start is to put a mulch around your garden, this will help keep in moisture and when it gets cold will retain heat. If you add blood and bone and sheep pellets to bark, straw or the endless supply of autumn leaves, your plants will have a much needed boost of nutrients like nitrogen that will help keep them healthy and strong. Mulch will also provide a winter blanket for hibernating perennial plants and bulbs.
For sensitive shrubs like citrus and avocado, a frost cloth will protect them at night and for those that have less than -3 degree frosts you can use an organic liquid frost spray such as Vaporgard that will protect plants for 6 – 8 weeks. Any plants that do get hit with frost damage leave until spring to prune, the damaged foliage will provide protection for the lower part of the plant and pruning will only encourage new young tender growth that is susceptible to frost.
Any plants in pots can be moved under eaves, onto decks, or under the protection of large trees. Make sure saucers are removed to help drainage and prevent root rot. Place on wheels so you can easily move them out into the warm on beautiful winter days.
In the vegetable garden grow in cloche’s or glass houses to lengthen your growing season, or cover frost tender plants with straw or a bucket at night to protect from frost. Many, such as brassica’s and Root vegetables, are not affected by the cold weather, often the frost enhancing their taste.
Before planting make sure you do some research into what grows well in your area. It can be heartbreaking to lose a loved plant that will never grow in your climate. Quite often it may just take a couple of seasons with extra protection before a plant becomes hardy enough to grow unprotected over winter.
Remember the cold weather can be good for our garden as it has a way of killing off unwanted pests and bugs, making our plants stronger and healthier in the season to come.