Frost on mint

Here in Australia the shortest day of the year often indicates the start of colder weather, even though the days will begin to get longer, but in the garden, it is a turning point for plants and often the beginning of the signs of spring.

Whist I consider myself a pagan (a member of a religious, spiritual, or cultural community based on the worship of nature or the earth) I do not participate in any well-known pagan rituals, about the most I do is cut great big bunches of Daphne, jonquils and whatever daffodils I have and bring them inside to fill the house with the promise of spring.

I also find it a busy time in the garden and I have many things that I like to have completed by the winter solstice.

They are:

• My spring/summer vegetable planning competed and all my seeds for these plantings ordered. I like to order these on line, having thumbed through several seed catalogues. This way you get a double retail therapy hit- once when you order and again where your package arrives and you get to open it and go through your purchases.

• All my bulb onions (brown, white and red) and French shallots in the ground. If I have not grown enough seedling then I will buy punnets of plants and pop them in today.

• The last successive plantings of peas and broad beans in.

• And it is certainly a tradition in the family to have our tomato seeds planted on the winter solstice. They need to be sown indoor and in the Southern Highlands I will keep them inside or move them into the glasshouse until late November, whereas on the coast they can be planted out in late September early October.

The Winter Solstice is also a great time to start planning and completing an array of other jobs I like to have done before the Spring.

They are:

• Maintain my successive plantings of rocket coriander and winter lettuces.

Apply compost and manures to any bare areas and dig in any green manure crops so they are well decomposed and ready for spring plantings.

Remove and mulch any areas with winter weeds– they seem to appear out of nowhere at this time of the year, especially flick weed.

• It is also great time of the year to purchase and plant bare-rooted fruit trees, berries canes (such as raspberry blackberry young and Logan berry) and asparagus and rhubarb crowns.

• Although I always endeavour to plant things in the right spot first up, inevitably some plants just don’t work where they are planted or they become shaded by a more vigorous neighbour and need to be moved. So, now is a great time to move established deciduous trees, shrubs, conifers and camellias.

I love gardening in the cool weather and as you can see I have lots to keep me occupied.

Let me know what your favourite winter gardening jobs are and as always Happy Gardening.