Winter, the Spring in Disguise

I always see people lose their green momentum when Autumn hits and Summer ends. They see the Spring crops wither, giving their last offerings and assume wrongly that the time for growth is over. Do not miss this great opportunity!

 

There are many plants that thrive in the Durban Winter. Most of these are intolerant to the harsh spells of heat, wind and storms that come with Spring and Summer. Now is their time to find comfortable root and flourish. Begin by ensuring the same parameters that you do in preparing for spring: mix beds of dying plants with rich compost and organic matter, fertiliser (especially those for rooting strength such as bonemeal) and turn thoroughly with a pitchfork- bringing bottom layers of soil to the surface.

 

If you have a BeeGreen Worm Farm, add in your worm castings and worm pee to this! Once turned, water thoroughly. Once you have watered, I always recommend immediately mulching the moist ground with dried leaves or other organic material that will not seed (see the blog on mulching for more information).

 

Next, pick your plant varieties carefully- bearing in mind which will need the sunny spots (which will be scarce during winter) and which prefer the shadier spots. Also pay attention to which plants work well together and which should not be planted in close proximity. Most of the root vegetables such as carrots, beetroots, sweet and normal potatoes, radishes and turnips do well in winter. The Asian greens, lettuces and spinaches (the leafy green crops) as well as your Brassicas including kale, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli enjoy the milder climates. Legumes such as peas and beans will also do well if they are prepared with supports or trellises. Finally, winter squashes will do well but should not be too close to more sensitive plants as they have a habit of taking over rapidly- draining the water and stealing sunlight from other plants.

 

Winter also will see many plants such as grape vines and fig trees lose all their foliage- this is heartbreaking to the new gardener, but the BeeGreen community knows better: this is the ideal time to do your pruning on your summer plants and trees while they are not fruiting. Look up the specific plant pruning tips as these vary from species to species.

 

As you can see the gardener should be as busy as they are in the more hotter months. There is a great deal of work to do and when done thoroughly, the gardener will ensure a rich harvest whilst also keeping the soil active and rich for when the Spring returns! Provide a sanctuary for your local wildlife in these harsher months and you will see them reward you with pollination and pest control.