Digging in for winter

01:00 Mon 22nd Jan 2001 |

By Tom Gard

TO the fair weather gardener, anyone spotted wielding a spade or secateurs amidst the mud and frost of January must have a screw loose. All but the most hardy plants have gone into hibernation so why shouldn't we, they ask

But the diligent - or fanatical, depending on your view point - gardener knows that there is no such thing as a winter break. This is the time to steal a march on the rest, to pave the way for a successful year ahead, and to enjoy the self-satisfied glow that comes with keeping the cold at bay with a bit of honest, hard, physical work.

Unfortunately, the perpetual rain much of the country was subjected to before Christmas means that all but the lightest and well-drained soils are still too heavy to dig over. Resist the temptation to churn over the mud, you will do more harm to the soil structure than good.

However, you can help the garden begin to drain itself by digging 'gutters' around lawns, paths and vegetable patches to give the water somewhere to go.

It is also a good time to get on with any structural work�such as repairing or putting up fences, erecting pergolas or summerhouses. And, if you've been putting it off, why not clear up the shed or greenhouse, wash down glass and surfaces with disinfectant, stack and clean pots.

It is also time to plan. Look out of the window and identify areas that could benefit from a bit more all-year-round interest, then visit your local nursery or neighbours garden to see what's putting on a show now. Try and remember where you thought your garden was lacking last season and start working out what you can plant this spring to improve the situation.

And don't forget the vegetable garden. Now is the time to decide what your going to grow and where, remembering to rotate crops like brassicas and beans. If your planning to raise any new or unusual varieties from seed get ordering now to avoid disappointment.

Here are a few other jobs to be getting on with:

  • Prune overgrown apple and pear trees, remove weak, dead and diseased wood and cross or rub branches.�Cut Wisteria back to about four buds.
  • Sprout seed potatoes in a cool, but well lit place.
  • Sow early vegetables and annuals under glass or in a heated window propagator.
  • Shake off snow to avoid broken branches.
  • Check stored fruit and vegetables for signs of rot.

Got any questions on what to do in your garden this winter click hereto get some answers.

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