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Gardening In Winter

1st of December 2010

Gardening in winter
With days getting shorter and colder we often think that there is nothing to do in the garden but there is much we should be doing.

Vegetables and fruit.
Winter digging should continue adding farmyard manure as necessary but not when the ground is frozen or sodden. This is a great way of getting warm on a cold day. Any weeds will need hoeing away and harvesting should continue. The new season’s seeds will be in the garden centre soon after Christmas but it is too early to sow outdoors. In January seed potatoes will be on sale and these will need to be chitted or sprouted in a light frost free place ready for planting out in the spring. Carry on planting fruit trees and soft fruit when weather permits. Apple and pear trees should be pruned as soon as possible and sprayed with a winter wash. Peach trees must be sprayed against peach leaf curl before mid-February at the latest. Some birds attack the buds on soft fruit bushes and bird netting will help here. Forcing of rhubarb can start soon now.

Shrubs and perennials.
Carry on with cutting down hardy herbaceous plants, lifting and dividing them and plant out shrubs and roses if the ground permits. Many shrubs can be pruned now and it is a good idea to cut back rose bushes. Remove fallen leaves from plants. If we get snow, shake it off conifers and large shrubs to prevent branches getting broken. Bay trees growing in pots should be moved inside during freezing weather. Tender plants can be protected from frost damage by using garden fleece. In exposed places protect plants from wind damage and make sure trees and tall plants are well staked. Wrap up the pots where large evergreen plants are pot grown to prevent frost damage to the roots.

The greenhouse.
Make sure that the heater is working well and insulate with bubble plastic, if not already done. Sow exhibition onions just after Christmas and begonias, pelargoniums, lobelia and antirrhinums early in the new year. Sweet peas can still be sown. Do not over water plants at this time of the year. Make sure that tender perennial plants are put in the greenhouse without delay.

In the garden.
Keep the garden tidy but leave an odd heap of leaves and logs where wildlife can over winter. Sweep up the rest of the leaves and make compost from garden clippings. The use of a garden shredder will help to make compostable material or can make good mulch even from the old christmas tree. Make sure birds are fed and provide them with water too. Use a pond heater to stop freezing. Keep off the lawn if frozen or soggy and get the lawn mower serviced. And do visit the garden centre to see the amazing selection of plants that can brighten up the garden on the dullest of the winter days. Terry Simmonds

This page is edited by Tony

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