by Meredith Kirton
What to do, sow, grow and harvest in the flower and vegie beds this month.
Prune your roses now, unless you live in a really cold place, in which case you might wait a few weeks. Try to shorten two-thirds of the bush, removing any inward, crowded stems. Afterwards, apply lime sulphur to burn off fungal spores and control scale.
Cut back over-vigorous bougainvilleas, rampant grapevines, tired oleanders and overgrown evergreen shrubs such as viburnum and photinia. If you live in very frosty pockets, delay this pruning job for another month.
If you’ve ever thought of adding a water feature, now is the time to put one in or buy one cheap. If you already have one, clean out your pond, divide and re-pot waterlilies, iris and aquatic reeds, and change the pump filter.
Winter planting is fairly minimal, but it is a good time to buy new season deciduous plants from nurseries. Their full range of bagged roses, fruit trees and flowering blossoms should be fresh in store.
Imagine grapevines dripping with fruit over your outdoor table in summer – now’s the time to put in fruiting deciduous vines like grapes and kiwifruit.
Pick your Brussels sprouts, as they start bearing from the bottom up, leaving smaller clusters in place until they are full size. With broccoli, take out the main head once it’s full size and before any flowers appear, and let the side shoots form smaller broccolini-like heads in the following months.
Dig up root crops of Jerusalem artichokes and turmeric if you have them in the garden. Store them with the dirt still on the tubers to help them last, and only clean them as you eat them.
If you’re growing leeks, chicory or celery (or potatoes in season) don’t forget to mound them as they grow or surround them with straw to help blanch the stems, keeping them pale green and sweet.