Winter in the garden

Temperatures have dropped and most of us just want to curl up in front of the fire with a good book or a nice drop, but there are many jobs to do around the garden on those lovely winter days.

In the vegetable patch, plant asparagus crowns, broccoli, baby broccoli, broad beans, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, peas, onions, spring onions and shallots.
You can plant all herbs except summer annuals such as basil and dill.
Carefully take apart then clean loppers, secateurs and shears, sharpen their blades and oil any moving parts.
Clean rusty tools by soaking them in a mixture of one-part molasses to 10 parts water.  Wipe off rust with a rag or steel wool. Wipe down the wooden handles with a cloth dipped in linseed oil to protect the timber.
Get your bare-rooted trees, shrubs, vines and roses in. The earlier to the nursery the better choice of plant.
Now that your deciduous trees have lost their leaves to reveal the bare framework of the canopy, it’s the perfect time to prune any branches missed in your summer or autumn pruning.
Move deciduous shrubs and small trees while they are fully dormant. Dig the rootball as big as you can and move carefully. Keep moist until established.
Prune roses and hydrangeas from now to mid-winter. Propagate hydrangea cuttings by selecting a piece that’s approx. 10-15cm long and has three nodes. Place in potting mix and let it grow. It makes a wonderful gift.
Collect fallen leaves to use as mulch or in compost.
Plant pansies for some winter colour.
Plant your spring flowering annuals in June, watch out for snails & slugs. Use a pet friendly bait to protect small seedlings.
Plant your summer flowering bulbs now such as Calla (Zantedeschia spp), Asiatic lily, Scarborough lily (Valotta spp). It’s not too late to plant spring flowering bulbs although they may not do as well in their first year.
Divide native violet (Viola hederacea) to create a colourful groundcover. Grows anywhere, but prefers shady areas.
Create garden tripods and trellises in readiness for spring planting of peas & beans. Try willow or poplar branches, or bamboo if you can get your hands on it. Let your imagination run wild.
Towards the end of winter prepare sites for spring plantings. Dig to a spade depth, add compost and well-rotted manure and work in with a garden fork. Another tip: as you dig, bury short lengths of wide polypipe, with holes drilled into the sides. They make a perfect worm habitat when filled with kitchen scraps and topped with leaf mulch or lawn clippings.

Enjoy your garden, until next time. Rebecca