The first whiff of spring is a joyful time for gardeners – unless you left your run a bit late, or didn’t even get started! Here are some ways to salvage the situation so you can still enjoy the flowering and planting pleasures of the season.
- Spring-flowering bulbs If you’re still sitting on a bag of daffodils, tulips or hyacinths, then get them into the ground or a pot now. Bulbs aren’t like seeds, which can be left unplanted for years – they need to go through the growing cycle each year or they will shrivel and die. Planting this late means you’re unlikely to get good flowering, but give them an application or two of fertiliser, and hopefully they’ll do well for you next year. To get your fix of spring-bulb flowers this year, splash out at the nursery or florist on a few pots of flowering bulbs.
- Unpruned roses Most established repeat-flowering roses need a winter prune to stimulate new growth and better flowering. And, yes, unless you live in a very cold region, it should have been done by now. The solution is to simply pretend that you live in a very cold region and do what they do there by pruning later. And by later we mean now! Your first flush of flowers will be delayed but it will be a much better flush than if you hadn’t pruned at all.
- Vegie-patch failures If one look at your vegie patch tells you you’ve been more successful at growing weeds than cauliflowers, then now is the time to prepare for success with the next crop. Yank out weeds and any weak vegies that have failed to flourish. Apply a generous layer of manure, compost and organic pellets. Finish with a dusting of dolomite, then dig it all in. Water in with liquid seaweed, cover with sugarcane mulch and leave for a couple of weeks to allow the worms and microbes to do their thing. By then, your patch will be ready for planting or sowing warm-season crops, and you’ll get that spring-planting endorphin rush.
- Last-minute plantings Winter is the time to plant a range of ornamentals and edibles as bare-rooted plants or dormant crowns – think roses, stone fruit trees, ornamental cherries, rhubarb, asparagus and berry canes. Even this late in the season, it’s worth checking online and at garden centres to see what they have left. Potted (leafed) versions of these plants do appear later in the year, but often the range of choices is limited – so act now.
For more great ways to get ready for spring, including pruning deciduous plants, doing a seed stocktake and sharpening your tools, pick up the August 2021 issue of ABC Gardening Australia magazine, out now.