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The South African Guide to Winter Gardening

23 April 2019
The South African Guide to Winter Gardening -  winter gardening

Winter is coming on strong but that doesn’t mean you should hang up your gardening tools. Most of South Africa is fortunate to have clear and sunny days during the coldest season of the year, making winter gardening perfectly possible. Wouldn’t you like to continue exercising your green thumb during the coming cooler months? Then read on as we share our top tips for winter gardening in South Africa.

What to Plant

Fruit & Veg

Given the right amount of nutrients, there are plenty crops which do best in the cooler months. Consider setting aside a part of your garden for growing these delicious fruits and veggies:

Fruit to grow in winter

Veggies to grow in winter

Apples

Cauliflower

Pears

Carrots

Peaches

Broad beans

Nectarines

Kale

 

Micro greens

 

Onions

 

Radishes

 

Snap peas

 

Flowering Plants

Winter gardens needn’t be elaborate – even a potful of pansies can bring beauty to the dreariest of surroundings. Brighten up your winter garden with these winter flowering plants:

Azaleas         

Phlox

Camellias

Proteas

Daisies

Roses

Gladiolus

Snapdragons

Pansies

Strelitzias

Primulas

Tulips

 

Besides for these colourful flowers, you might consider decorating your flower pots with paint or coloured twine, for example. Aloes, cacti and succulents also make excellent accent plants and are available in various vibrant shades.

What to Harvest

If the seeds have been sowed in time, enjoy the taste of the season by harvesting some fresh fruit and veg straight from your garden. The following crops are in season during winter:

Winter Fruit

Winter Veg

Apples

Butternut

Avocados

Beetroot

Grapefruit

Broccoli

Naartjies

Cabbage

Oranges

Cauliflower

Quavas

Spinach

 

Winter Gardening Activities

Winter is also the perfect time to tend to some basic gardening needs.

  • Using garden shears or a clean pair of scissors, remove any withered or dead foliage from plants and flowers. Similarly, prune overgrowing branches or stems from trees and shrubs. Besides for improving the overall appearance of your garden, pruning will improve the plant’s health and yield by allowing for the even distribution of nutrients. This article on property24.com argues that most flowering and fruiting plants actually prefer to be pruned while lying dormant during late winter.
  • It goes without saying that weeds should also be removed from the garden. While it may be tempting to reach for a chemical solution, we recommend using eco-friendlier remedies. co.za has shared a homemade herbicide recipe that’s really easy to make. Simply mix four cups of white vinegar with one cup of salt and ½ teaspoon of liquid soap. Then spray this solution over the weeds, preferably on a sunny day, taking care to protect any nearby desirable plants.
  • The quieter winter months are also an opportune time to do some general maintenance work around the garden. Rake up any remaining autumn leaves, spring clean your garden shed or greenhouse, give the outdoor garden furniture a good wipe down and clean all your gardening tools and equipment.

Winter Gardening Tips

Keep these tips in mind to ensure the greatest winter garden possible.

  • Although South Africa has relatively temperate winters, climate conditions do vary between regions. For example, while winters are quite pleasant along the north-east coast in KwaZulu-Natal, they can be especially intense inland in areas such as the Drakensberg and Great Karoo. com has outlined the seasonal conditions in different regions across the country – take these into account before choosing which plants to grow in your winter garden.
  • com has also developed a superb guide on when to start planting certain vegetables according to South Africa’s four main climates.
  • As in summer, winter gardens need three basic things to survive and thrive – plenty sun, good soil and water as needed. Ideally, plants should receive six hours of sun per day, so be sure to place your plants in a suitable spot where they can get as much as sun as possible during the day.
  • Winter gardens don’t need as much water as their summer counterparts. According to co.za, lawns can be watered once every two to three weeks. Most low water-use plants should only be watered once every two months, while moderate water-use plants need only be watered once a month. High water-use plants will need to be watered 2-3 times every fortnight.
  • Harsh winter conditions can take their toll on their soil. Spreading mulch in your garden will help protect the soil from damage caused by wind, cold or frost. Mulches also protect the ground from soil erosion and compaction from heavy rains. Visit co.za for expert garden mulching tips.
  • Winter flowering plants should be planted in April or May to bloom in time for winter. In fact, April is widely celebrated as ‘Garden Month’, making it the perfect time to start prepping for your very own winter garden!
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