Amarjeet Singh Batth
Winter may be considered a relatively lean period for gardening, but the fact is that this time is ideal to prepare your home garden for the next year. It’s the time to take care of the delicate exotic plants, ‘shape up’ the existing trees and shrubs, nourish the soil with a dose of manure and plan for new plants. It’s also the time to review your garden landscaping, evaluating the performance of the existing plants and accordingly take corrective measures by replacing them or by adding more.
Caring for plants
Shift exotic plants to a covered space or a green house (if you have one). Some plants like Aglaonema's, Asparus, Araucaria Heterophylla (Christmas tree), Dieffenbachia, Ferns, Pothos (money plant), Schefflera, Dracaena, Syhgonium, Philodendrum need to be relocated considering the sunlight requirement. Weekly cleaning of leaves and rotation of pots help to keep these delicate plants in good health. Shift outside once a in a fortnightly. Keep the pot soil moist and do not over water them. Weak plants can be administered a dose of liquid manure or fertiliser. Misting of the plants outside in the evening helps saving them from ‘cold injury’. Annuals are generallyplanted between mid-October and mid-November and are established by December. It is important to keep these moist and avoid over watering. Use a ploythene sheete or sarkanda cover to save them from frost.
Pruning is a regular operation in a garden in which removal of dead wood, broken branches, and disease- affected parts and small branches can be done at any point of time, but winters is the time for hard pruning to shape the plant attractively.
A very young tree does need selective pruning for structural soundness with a single leader with strong and evenly spaced branches. In this process retain branches with strong U shaped/wide angles and trim weak branches with weak V shaped/narrow angles. Eliminate the branches that form weak crotches, rub against each other or those that are too close to each other. In this dormant period the plants shed their leaves and it gives one a free hand to shape it as per one’s desire. Prune to reduce the apical dominance and to form lateral branches. Do not prune more than one fourth of the crown and ensure that living branches compose at least two third of the height of the tree.
Rejuvenating the soil
Fallen leaves are an ideal soil conditioner, therefore put these in deep pits with a layer of soil or compost and cover and keep these moist. The leaf mould compost gets ready in four to six months, depending upon the season. Winter is also the time to give all trees and shrubs a bi-yearly dose of farm yard manure so that the plants have sufficient nutrition when growing period commences February onwards.
The plants which have faded can now be re-planted and even new plants can be added. This is the right time for planting bulbs like, Amaryllis, Football Lilly, Tuberose (rajnigandha) and Zephranthus. It’s also a time to plant range of fruit trees like plum, grape fruit, kinnow, lemon, mango, and loquat, which should be planted from mid-January to mid-February.