Winter Cultivation | Mulching

Cultivate: Feed & Mulch

Winter is the perfect time to prepare garden beds and soil.

Just like what occurs naturally in the native bush, soil isn’t meant to be perfectly bare. Layering things like mulch and organic matter will help nourish the soil and keep it warmer, for better success with growing through the colder months.

Mulching is the best way to keep weeds down and it adds a warm blanket for the plant’s roots through winter. It’s also a great way to enrich your soil. 

To mulch

Weed first, then put bottom layers of soil nourishing things like seaweed, worm castings, compost, sheep pellets and rotted manure. Then top with pea hay, autumn leaves or wood chips.

For clay soils and drainage issues add some gypsum to your soil before layering with mulch.

Autumn leaves

You’ll likely still have deciduous leaves lying around. To effectively use them as a layer of mulch (or in your compost bin), run them over with the lawnmower to break them up. Rake them up and use them to mulch around your plants or fill your compost bin. 

Breaking them up lets the underneath layers of soil breathe better and they’ll break down faster.

Winter garden tasks

Photo of Camilla Jørvad‘s garden

Gardener Tips

Kate Williams lives with her family on a lifestyle block in Canterbury, where she is kept busy with establishing, expanding and looking after her extensive 4 acre garden. Kate is a floral designer and the author of The After-Hours Stylist: Growing, gathering, and creating through the seasons.

Kate has shared with us what’s on her winter garden to-do list:

“Winter is a time to tend to our country garden: pruning back, digging up and transplanting tubers where necessary, sterilising and preparing the greenhouse, and general garden maintenance before the busy spring months.
Along with expanding our formal garden area and flower fields into the paddocks, we will be mulching our existing 4 acre garden area. Historically we have ordered in truckloads of mulch each year to spread – this is our weed management regime. As hard as it is heaving those wheelbarrow and tractor loads about the property, it saves us time in the long term and really contributes to improved soil condition, keeping weeds at bay and increased moisture for the summer months.
With the increased amount of pruning this year, it may even be worthwhile for us to invest in our own commercial mulching machine! Most of the tasks listed here I manage with my husband, but when it’s under control, I’ll be in the flower shed still harvesting the seeds and flowers we are drying. This shed is sometimes a nicer place to be than wheelbarrowing loads of mulch around the property!”
Kate Williams | The After Hours Stylist
Kate’s late Autumn Garden
After Hours Stylist book cover

The After-hours Stylist: Growing, gathering, and creating through the seasons

(Written by Kate Williams, photography by Anna McLeod. Published by Bateman Books, RRP $59.99)

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