Tips for winter garden maintenance

As not much growing happens over the cooler months, the motivation to do some winter garden maintenance can be low.  However, if you do get out in the cold and wet for a few hours every couple of days, this is time well spent setting you up for the growing season ahead.

I must admit, I haven’t spent much time at all in the garden over the last couple of months, so over the weekend it was time to take some action.

The first activity was to start pulling some weeds out and prepare the soil for the spring crops.  Then it was time to prune the fruit trees.

DSC_0033It doesn’t take too long to fill the wheelbarrow..

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Once the fruit trees were pruned, it was time to give the stone fruit and apple trees a winter spray of copper fungicide.  This is the most potent spray I use in the garden and is needed to prevent the onset of leaf curl on the stone fruit trees and apple scab on the apple trees.  I had both these diseases last year, mainly because I did not treat the trees at the right time.  It is recommended to spray them once after leaf fall and then again before the buds burst in spring.  The timing for spraying prior to bud burst can get very tricky, because when the warmer weather appears, it can take only a couple of days for the tree to begin growing the new shoots.  This is what happened to me last year (click hear) and once the buds have opened, its too late to spray to stop the fungus from spreading.  I will attempt to spray again as close to the new growth as possible this year, but the extra spray over winter should help to control the disease.  One other thing to consider when spraying is the weather.  It is important to pick a day with no wind so you can cover all the branches.  Also make sure you have a few dry days ahead to prevent the spray from washing off the tree too soon.  My problem last year was that there was never a few days of dry weather at the time of bud burst, so the spray did not have the desired affect.

The next item on the winter garden maintenance list was the berries and grape vines.  It was time to trim and tie them up.

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A job for the next weekend is to cut back the raspberry canes and separate them out.  I will relocate some of these to other areas in the garden, as they were a huge success last year with the kids, and more plants means more berries!  The patch shown below started out as a couple of canes and now has spread to about 15 plants.

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And that’s enough winter garden maintenance for one day!  More to come…