Make a plan for the winter garden

It’s a great time to be in the garden. Make the most of May’s autumnal days to plant winter flowers and zesty winter veggies.

We’re planting … Bacopa MegaCopa’ White for being the closest you’ll get to snow in winter. Its pure white flowers form a ball of flowers when grown in a hanging basket or fill out and spill over the edge of a container. The flowers are double the size of other Bacopa varieties and the plants hold their compact neat shape, without falling open in the middle. It will flower through winter if positioned in full sun and when spring arrives move the plant into semi-shade to keep it flowering well into summer. Keep the soil moist, feed with a liquid fertiliser once a month, then sit back and enjoy the show.

Indoor plant of the month … Alocasia Amazonica cries out for a minimalist, contemporary setting. The shield-shaped dark green leaves are silver-etched with dominant silver midrib and veins. It is the star of any show and most certainly Instagram worthy.

True to its tropical Asian origins, it does best in a bright, light, humid environment. To create a naturally humid environment, combine it with other tropical plants like Birds nest fern, bromeliads, and Zantedeschia.

It needs very little care, just watering when the top of the soil begins to dry. Feeding with a liquid fertiliser once a month in summer will keep it in glossy good health. Plants that outgrow their pots can be divided and repotted in spring.

Veggie of the month: Leafy mustard greens may tingle the taste buds with their hot, peppery flavour, but this herb prefers growing in cooler weather. Young leaves are pickable from 14 to 21 days after germination and it produces leaves throughout winter for use in salads or cooked dishes.

To grow: Why not sow mustard thickly in a hanging basket, that’s close to the kitchen for easy picking, or in containers that receive morning sun. It is the perfect winter edible for balconies, patios and sunny windowsills.

Sprinkle the seeds over the surface of the soil and lightly cover with potting mix or perlite and firm down. Water gently and keep moist during germination.

Once mustard has germinated feed with a liquid fertiliser like Margaret Roberts Organic Supercharger and once a month thereafter. Keep the soil moist.

Harvesting: cut individual leaves or cut the whole plant just above the base so that it can sprout out again. Young leaves are best for salads and older leaves for cooking, especially stir frying which mellows the peppery flavour.

Try this: Kirchhoffs Green Mustard is an heirloom variety and every part, leaves, flowers and seeds can be used.

Garden tasks for May

  • There is still time to plant out flowering winter annuals like poppies, petunias, snapdragons, pansies, primulas and violas. Water at least twice a week until they are established.
  • If the garden is in need of flowering shrubs this is a good time to plant May Bush (Spiraea), Buddleia, Viburnum, Cestrum and Deutzia.
  • Water spring flowering bulbs every four days for 40 minutes, and perennials, shrubs and climbers once a week.
  • Cut down cannas and other summer perennials that have finished flowering and divide summer perennials that have grown too dense.
  • Towards the end of May be ready to protect tender shrubs, flowers and veggies with frost cloth.
  • Lawns that go dormant in winter like Kikuyu only need watering once or twice a month. Evergreen lawns should be watered and fed more regularly.

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