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How to prepare a sustainable winter garden in 7 easy steps

"Horticulturist and founder of Keith Kirsten Horticulture International," Mr Kirsten shares his knowledge and expertise with you and with us, specially for #GardenMonth. 

They say that winter allows you to see the bone structure of the landscape and isn’t that an intimate treat that nature affords us? While you observe the elegant starkness around you in autumn and winter, beauty is not only visibly present to those of us willing to see it, but it’s also a budding anticipation in the air; something lies beneath, waiting.

As gardeners we need to honour this elegance and the arrival of that special something by putting in the time, ahead of time, all the time. These labours are meticulous and essential – as well as rewarding and therapeutic – investments of pure faith and love that we get to reap throughout the year.  

Clothing your garden in fresh spring blossoms is a process that starts now just as the glory of your winter vegetable patch has been a long time in the making.

Included on your gardening taskforce ought to be some useful resources – some of which might take the form of insights from cherished friend and gardening expert, Keith Kirsten himself.  Information, entertainment and inspiration form part of this cyclical journey that is The Seasons.  

Here is how you can achieve sustainable winter gardening, and this comes directly from the Mr Kirsten:

1.            Reduce any fertilisers to lawns during autumn and winter. Let your plant and garden rest and resume feeding in spring.

2.            In summer rainfall areas where trees and shrubs and other plants have put on excessive growth, do some judicial pruning. For example, lift the canopy of trees to allow more filtered sunlight to garden beds, lawns and head room. Do not prune back shrubs or roses until mid-winter otherwise you will be forcing growth prematurely before spring.

3.            Remove plants which have passed their sell by date. Prepare planting areas for new plantings of permanent plants, annuals and bulbs for spring and early summer growth.

4.            Plant winter and spring flowering seeds such as sweat peas, Namaqualand daisies, Virginian stocks and bumper packs of wildflowers and meadow flowers in open spaces, pavements and even around roses.

5.            No one should be without a small or large vegetable & herb garden. If space is at a premium, plant in existing garden beds or containers. Allow some of your vegetables to go to seed; the birds love the seeds and refrain from eating the actual vegetables. Full sun is best for vegetables.

6.            To attract more birds, butterflies and wildlife to your garden, plant more indigenous plants including wildflowers. If you already have many of these, cut back or prune only towards the end of winter allowing the wildlife (particularly birds) to feed off the seeds through winter. Plants which attract wildlife are Buddleja, Leonotus, Aloes, Leucodendron, Scabiosa africana Erythrina , Freylinia, Phygelius, Mesembryanthemum, Alysum, Rudbeckia (Echinacea).

7.            Lastly, take heed of the following:
ü  Mulching and compost – (fine not course)
ü  Watering (morning and late afternoon)
ü  Biodiversity (variety and no monoculture maintenance)
ü  Lawns (reduce maintenance and remove lawn where it does not grow well) 

Rather plant lower maintenance perennials and groundcovers to increase your biodiversity. Feed in spring when new growth appears (non-chemicals) with bonemeal, manure, vericompost.

Get in touch with us or with Keith if you have any questions regarding these pointers. We share an exceptional passion that doesn’t fade as warmer days do. 


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