This year, Winter has arrived earlier than usual with frosty days and snow in May. Although we haven't had the usual amount of rain, it remains to be seen what the rest of the Winter will bring. I've prepared my chrysanthemums, begonias, and dahlias for Winter by either lifting them or moving their pots into the greenhouse, keeping only those I plan to use next season.

The first Winter treatments for the fruit trees have been applied, and I'll start pruning soon. The lawns appear to have stopped growing, and the weed and poa grass treatment I applied six weeks ago has been very effective. Remember not to cut the grass too low and, if possible, avoid walking on frozen grass to prevent damage.

Plants susceptible to frost damage should be covered with frost cloth. We've already had a hard frost that damaged some typically hardy plants, so when in doubt, cover them up. I wait until all the leaves have fallen off the grapes and other fruit trees before pruning to ensure a thorough cleanup around the drip line, removing any old leaves that might carry disease or pests.

The greenhouse is now a major focus. I'm clearing out unwanted plants, pots, and plastic trays, and washing and disinfecting paths, walls, and the roof in preparation for the growing season. With the leaf fall and cutting back of flowering plants, we have plenty of material for compost. Good compost requires the right ratio of carbon to nitrogen and adequate moisture. Since I don't have room for compost, I use the green bin for green waste suitable for composting, while non-compostable waste goes in the red bin.

Although we don't typically think about water conservation in Winter, it's worth considering how to collect Winter rains for use in the greenhouse or garden in the coming season. I collect rainwater from my greenhouse roof and could collect more with increased storage capacity. Just 25mm of rain fills one of my 400-litre tanks (I have two).

All pruning and other work is best done on warmer, sunny days to prevent the spread of diseases and to keep warm.

Happy gardening!
Michael Coulter

The CHS are working with the Southern Seed Exchange (SSE) to bring you a range of fabulous seed packs, for big and small gardens alike Take a look here.

Remember: questions can be posted on HortTalk our online facebook group or you can email Michael directly at: