As winter temperatures begin to bite, time spent in your garden might feel like a distant memory. But with the spring planting season right around the corner, there’s more than one reason to get your hands in the dirt in July and August.
Winter + gardening might not sound like an ideal combination, but according to John Tindall, owner of the Annandale Garden Centre, there are lots of plants that thrive in winter’s weak sun. Here are John’s top six picks to get your cold thumbs turning green again.
If you want some fresh herbs
If fresh herbs make you think of summer salads, think again: options like lemongrass and dill are great picks for growing in the winter months.
“If you’ve got a pot of herbs, you can always go and pick a few things here and there for cooking,” John says.
Use lemongrass for laksa, Thai curries and other tummy-warming meals. Sprinkle dill over baked fish and chicken, add it to soup, or try your hand at making your own dill pickles.
If you want some leafy veg
Leafy greens like rocket, spinach, lettuce and red-veined sorrel are great candidates for winter gardening.
“At this time of year, leafy greens are always my pick because they grow a bit slower and stay a bit fleshier in the leaf,” John says.
Think filo pies, a handful of rocket thrown over a hot pizza, or a warm salad with a few fresh leaves tossed through.
If you want a pop of colour
The cold and dark of winter might make you hungrier than usual, but not all your winter garden picks need to be edible. In fact, a bright splash of colour like an azalea or anthurium plant can do wonders for lifting your mood.
“These are two colourful plants you could grow in a part-sun balcony,” John says.
“Anthuriums are probably classed more as an indoor plant but you can definitely have it outdoors in the shade on a table. They give off a bit of a flower year-round.”
If you want to maximise your growing potential
At this time of year, giving your soil a bit of TLC will improve your planting outcomes.
“Getting some cow manure or soil conditioner into the pots or into the garden beds is a really good thing to do now to get that soil nice and rich, ready for planting,” John says.
A lot of indoor plants, particularly those that get little sun, will often thrive on the balcony or out in the yard for a little stint in the sun.
If you want to protect your plants from being overwatered
Short days, low temperatures and winter rainfall can be recipe for overwatered plants. Think about reducing or even turning off irrigation systems over winter and switch to an organic, granular fertiliser rather than a liquid fertiliser for your lawn.
“It’s going to avoid a lot of problems like fungus and mould and all those sorts of problems that come with too much moisture,” John says, “The winter rain is usually enough to water most garden beds at this time of year.”
And, if you’re ready for winter to be over already
It might be the middle of winter, but the spring planting window is only a few weeks away. Seedlings for spring plants – think tomatoes, chillies, mini eggplant, capsicum and cucumber – are starting to appear at the Annandale Garden Centre and other nurseries across Sydney.
“You could almost start planting your seeds at the start of August, but if you had a seedling, you could start in the second half of July,” John says.
The Annandale Garden Centre is open 7 days a week at 34-36 Booth Street Annandale.