This week's garden tasks include forking your borders, improving clay soil, and looking out for early greenfly seeking shelter on primroses. I also have some tips on how often to feed indoor plants in January.
Soils and weeds
- Check your soil pH. Testing kits are widely available from garden centres and nurseries.
- Adding garden lime to the soil will give better results for most plants if the soil is acid.
- For lime-hating plants such as blueberries, Rhododendron, azaleas, heathers and others it may be necessary to add sulphur chips to make the soil more acid.
- Pull out any weeds that germinated this autumn. Speedwell, Herb Robert and Cleavers or Goosegrass are the most common and will make rapid growth as days lengthen. You'll be thankful in spring that you did it early!
Cleavers seedlings emerge in autumn
- When digging clay soil, mix in Vitax Clay Breaker and well-rotted organic matter. This will improve the soil structure to make it easier to cultivate in future.
- Fork your borders over between established plants but keep off if the soil is wet. Fork in a good base fertiliser such as Vitax Q4. Mulch with composted green waste or chipped bark to keep the weeds down.
Check for problems
- Pick off yellowing leaves from sprouts and other Brassicas. They may harbour downy mildew and other diseases. Sprouts and purple sprouting may need staking.
Remove yellow sprout leaves
- During cold periods do keep a sharp lookout for pigeon damage and cover your crops with netting as soon as you see damage starting.
Bird netting over kale plants
- Check pansies and primroses for greenfly. It may seem early, but they often have aphids on the undersides of leaves. Spray thoroughly with Bug Clear Ultra or SB Plant Invigorator to rid your plants of them.
- Check tree ties and stakes. Adjust those that are too tight and tighten those that are not! Make sure the top tie is near to the top of the stake so that it prevents the tree from rubbing the stake. Make sure that the stake is still sound and that the tree isn't holding it up!
You can still plant!
- Plant out hardy plants when the weather is mild and when the soil is not wet, sticky or frozen hard.
- Before planting, improve the planting area with well-rotted compost or manure.
- For bare-root plants work some compost around the roots and add a handful of blood fish and bone meal.
- Feed indoor plants monthly. However, make sure the root ball is wet first.
- Spray mist over foliage plants. Do it every day if you can. Ferns and air plants will especially benefit.