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Winter garden care: beating the winter blues

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Beautiful Gardens of Doon- 45

By Sunita Vijay

“Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle … a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream.”

–  Barbara Winkler

Most plants and even the grassgoes in dormant state in winters. It doesn’t mean that a gardener can sit idle. There are many invaders who are waiting to find solace under the leaves, in mulch, and in the warmth of dry fallen leaves. Plus it is the time to prepare your lawn to bounce back as a luscious green carpet in spring. It is also the time to prepare the beds for annuals, the ultimate show- stoppers.

Lawn Care

  1. Fertilize it with iron when the blades are still green before the onset of winters.It will lend the deep blue-green colour to the grass. Water soluble Iron plant nutrientis easily available these days. If you have missed the bus, do not worry. Practice ‘damage control’. Frost bitten grass takes longer time to recoup and may not form an ideal backdrop against the annuals that ooze out with colour and vibrancy during spring. Both the grass and the flowers have to complement each other. If one is in bad shape it won’t help in enhancing the overall look of the yard. Protect it.
  2. Spray with a solution of DAP or Urea as per the availability every three weeks.
  3. Wash off the frost first thing in the morning by a mild spray of water and prevent the blades of the grass from turning brown.
  4. Avoid walking on frosted grass. It will compact the soil.

5.Mild sprinkling on regular basis is a must.

  1. Avoid mowing unless and until it’s a sunny lawn and requires a neat shave.

Plant Care

  1. Keep the Indoor potted plants under the shade of a tree or in theverandahor near the wall or in clusters to protectthem from frost bite.
  2. Add organic manure to maintain fibre and moisture. It will help in battling cold.
  3. Keep turning the soil to prevent growth of fungus or mould. It willalso disturb the colony of bugs or insects that may be interested in creating their colony that may be devastating later.
  4. Avoid watering plants after sunset as it may invite leaf-mould disease. Although wet leaves fight winter battles best but avoid watering under bright sun. Leaves may develop slight burn marks due to burning glass effect of the water droplets.
  5. A spray of potassium and nitrogen is highly beneficial to keep the leaves healthy and green.
  6. Water the plants as per their demand but the roots should remain moist. The outer crust of the soil may look dry but the inner soil may be moist. Check with your finger and act accordingly.
  7. Outdoor plants need nourishment to keep them healthy and fight tough weather. Add organic manure after tilling the soil, especially the ones that bloom in winters. A nourished plant survives all weather conditions. Best is to feed them well with all the nutrients before the onset of winters and let their system rest during winters.

Prepare for annuals

  1. It is time to pay regular visits to nurseries and buy saplings of various annuals like salvia, phlox, gazania, carnations, dianthus, calendula, sweet peas, tulips, Dahlia etc
  2. Prepare your pots and beds in advance to settle the new sapling in it. Prepare a rich soil with a balanced proportion of soil, sand, leaf mould, vermi-compost and manure.
  3. Do not expose the newly planted saplings to direct sun for initially one week. Shift them under brightsunshine after a week.
  4. Keep turning the soil and remove the weeds as and when it comes.
  5. Bewatchful of any pest attack. Act on.

Taking care of the Chrysanthemums

Although I have already covered the care of Chrysanthemums in the previous articles but am still giving few crucial tips to see them bloom at their best.

  1. Add one more dose of manure.
  2. Turn the soil.
  3. As the flowers are blooming by now, donot wet the flowers while watering.
  4. Look for a sunny corner for the potted plants and give them support with sticks till the flowers appear if the bloom is still awaited.
  5. Spray with Nitrogen, potassium and potash to get deep colours.
  6. Paint the pots with the desired colour to give them a fresh look.
  7. For the ones that are in full bloom- keep them in semi-shade spot to enjoy longer flowering. Bright sun may prematurely wither the flowers. Regular watering is recommended.

Garden Area

  1. Do not neglect the garden area. Keep removing the dry leaves from the grass otherwise it will invite many insects and pests to make it their abode. Soil under the permanent bushes and trees need to be ploughed so that the insects and worms seeking shelter under these trees are exposed to the birds.

2.Pick the dry leaves regularly and collect them in a pit. Decomposed leaves will be a good manure for plants.

  1. Reduce irrigation. Ensure water drainage to prevent water logging
  2. Try to keep leaves dry and wash them occasionally as wet leaves with invite disease.
  3. Expose your lawn to more sun. Prune the branches of overlooking trees that block the sunrays to fall on your garden. The layout of the garden should be such that grass area falls is in the brighter, sunnier spot and a pebbled or concrete stoned area can be created in the shady side of the yard. Place the pots accordingly as per their sun tolerance.

December is the time when the indoor plants stop growing but the reins of the show vest in the hands of Chrysanthemums and the ideal preparations of annuals.

If Winter comes, can Spring by far behind?