Jobs to do in the garden
JOBS TO DO IN THE GARDEN THIS MONTH
Although it may not feel like it, there are signs of Spring in the garden already
IN THE FLOWER GARDEN………
· Prune wistaria now, cutting back summer side-shoots to 2 or 3 buds;
· Cut back shrubs like cornus (grown for their winter colour), down to the base
· Prune summer flowering clematis towards the end of this month before too much new growth begins;
· Ornamental grasses can be cut back now to within a few centimetres of the ground to encourage new growth;
· Over-wintered fuchsias can be pruned back to one or two buds on each stem;
· Prune winter-flowering jasmine after flowering to encourage new growth for next year, cutting back to 5cm from the old wood;
· Trim winter-flowering heathers when they’ve finished flowering to prevent the plants becoming ‘leggy’;
· Mahonia and viburnum can be pruned once they’ve finished flowering;
· Don’t forget to keep dead-heading your winter pansies to encourage new flower buds to form.
IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN……..
· You could start ‘chitting’ seed potatoes now by standing them upright in an egg box or tray and place them in a bright, cool frost-free place;
· Mulch perennial vegetables such as asparagus and artichokes, if you grow them, with well-rotted manure or garden compost;
· If you have raised vegetable beds, check the condition of the wood and replace or repair any that are showing signs of ‘wear and tear’. Remember – raised beds give you the opportunity to make an early start in your veg garden as the soil warms up faster and they drain quickly too (ideal if you have clay soil);
· Rake lime into acid soil;
· Continue to remove yellowed leaves from your brassicas;
· Tidy up your vegetable plot by removing any remaining plant debris.
IN THE FRUIT GARDEN…….
· It’s probably your last opportunity to prune autumn fruiting raspberry canes down to the ground to stimulate new autumn fruiting growth. Cut the tips of the summer fruiting canes that have grown beyond the tops of their supports, cutting just above a bud;
· If you didn’t do it in January, prune blackcurrant, gooseberries and redcurrants now to keep a good framework;
· Now is your last chance to prune apple and pear trees if not already done. Plum, cherry and apricots are pruned in the summer;
· Protect apricots and peaches from frost with horticultural fleece as the flower buds begin to form ensuring that pollinating insects can still reach the flowers once they begin to open;
· Force rhubarb crowns for an early crop;
· Strawberry plants can be covered with cloches now to encourage new growth and an early crop;
· Top-dress fruit bushes with a slow-release, potassium-rich fertiliser;
· Continue to check on your stored fruit and remove any showing signs of rot or damage.
IN THE GREENHOUSE……
· Make sure you’re greenhouse is ready for spring growing. If you use commercial potting compost for seed growing, bring a bag into the greenhouse to ‘warm up’, those few degrees will make a difference;
· If you haven’t already done so make sure the glass in your greenhouse is clean; wash down with a mild solution of disinfectant and water to prevent the spread of any disease to growing seedlings or plants;
· If you use a greenhouse heater check it is in full working order;
· Hopefully, you’ve been able to order your flower and vegetable seeds, some of which can be sown in trays later this month provided your greenhouse is heated.
OTHER JOBS AROUND THE GARDEN AND OUTSIDE AREAS…….
· Check your tools are clean and ready for use. Sharpen and oil secateurs;
· Once your snowdrops have finished flowering later this month, they can be lifted whilst still ‘in the green’ and divided to create more plants;
· Trim any hedges, ivy or Virginia creeper before the birds start nesting;
· Keep feeding the birds, the weather is still cold this month and fat balls are a good source of protein and added ‘warmth’ for them. Keep the feeders clean and topped up regularly;
· Chop or shred any woody prunings before adding them to your compost as this will help speed up the process of decomposition;
· As long as the ground isn’t frozen, you can start to cultivate beds and warm up the soil with fleece or cloches in preparation for sowing later.