A New Zealand Lifestyle Blockers Guide to Winter

When you look outside over your frost covered garden this winter, it might appear dead and lifeless.
However, this is an illusion. The garden never sleeps!
All winter there are subtle but vital changes taking place. Under the soil, the cold is working its magic on seeds, bulbs and roots. Even the chilly winds have a role to play to ensure flowers and fruits appear later in the year.
Without the winter cold, gardens would be less abundant and beautiful in the summer.
As the temperate drops, it’s easy to spend most of your time indoors, sitting by the fire and trying to stay warm. I don’t blame you, it’s freezing outside! However, getting ahead of the game and preparing your block during winter will set you up for an abundant harvesting season.
Here are a few things you can do over winter to ensure you reap a plentiful harvest next season…

1. Prune 
Winter is the time when gardeners get all get enthusiastic about pruning their fruit trees. Sometimes too excited!
They say, there are three kinds of pruners:

  1. Those who want to chop off 90 per cent of the tree
  2. Those who don’t chop off enough
  3. The gardener who is too scared about ruining a tree to chop at all

Which one are you?
Just like most things, when it comes to pruning, you need to find that sweet spot. Because without pruning, your trees can become straggly and less productive. Cutting back branches and shoots in the dormant season will concentrate sap flow in spring into fewer buds, resulting in strong growth.

2. Improve the quality of your soil
Though some home gardeners may be blessed with perfect soil, most of us garden in soil that is much less than perfect. Your soil can be home to a number of bad guys (pathogens) that can cause smaller than usual plants or fruits, lower the yield, or worse, the entire crop could die off.
The key to healthy soil is to ensure it is a great environment for beneficial micro-organisms (bacteria and Mycorrhizal Fungi) to grow and thrive. In doing this they will crowd out the pathogens and allow the plant roots to absorb nutrients and transport them to wherever they’re needed most in the plant.
Soils with high levels of organic matter and organism activity will prevent aggressive pathogens from taking hold and improve overall fruit and vegetable quality and yields.
Click to read about the beneficial bacteria Bacillus Subtilis here.
We use the beneficial inoculant Fulzyme Plus. This is a natural product produced by a unique fermentation process. It contains billions of beneficial bacteria including Bacillus Subtilis and selected amino acids, specifically designed to improve soil fertility and plant health.

3. Addressing nutrient deficiencies 
In New Zealand most soils are young and many soils have had exposure to chemical treatments, and as a result, the soil is lacking one or more essential nutrients that plants require to thrive. There are many different deficiencies your crops could suffer from, such as lack of essential trace elements including Calcium and Potassium. These deficiencies often show up in the leaves, which may be discoloured, distorted or dropping off.
To help address mineral deficiencies, the application of an organic trace mineral fertiliser is essential.
Click to read more about plant deficiencies here.

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