As we approach the end of January, we're still in the depths of winter. But that doesn't mean there isn't lots to do in the garden!
- Move potted and container-grown strawberries inside a greenhouse to begin forcing them for really early crops. They do need a cold period for this to happen.
- Keep citrus plants cool unless they are actively growing. They will need very little water until there is new growth or flowers. If there is already new growth, then you'll need to increase watering and use a specific citrus winter feed.
- Turn and mix your compost heap. Add more Garotta Compost Maker or something similar, making sure that it is moist throughout the whole pile. You can also shred any wrapping paper and incorporate it into your compost heap.
A spot of time-saving maintenance
- Apply bark mulch to areas between plants, but only if they are free of weeds. Mulch will trap the moisture in and keep the weeds down in summer.
Snails hibernating under a plant tray
- Gather and remove hibernating snails from under prostrate plants, trays and flat stones. Removing them now will reduce their impact on your plants later.
- Clean and disinfect plant trays and pots to prevent the carry-over of disease.
- Bamboo canes can harbour pests inside their hollow centres (especially red spider mites). Now is an excellent time to treat them or buy some new ones.
- Protect plants from deer and rabbits. I've found that the non-toxic product ‘Grazers’ should do this for you. Keep plants weed free and mulch well.
Roe deer doe
- Check around newly planted shrubs and roses after frost and storms. Look for signs of soil upheaval and wind-rock. Firm the soil back down with your feet so that the roots are firm again. Check out Jo's article on how to protect your plants from the wind:
- Treat dangerously slippery paths. Products like Algon will improve the look of the hard surface as well as making it safer by removing moss, algae, lichen and stains.
Sowing time again!
- Sow annual bedding plants of Begonia, Lobelia, Salvia and Pelargonium in a heated greenhouse or propagator. You can do this on a bright windowsill too. These bedding plants are always slow to get started, so you need to start early.
- If you didn’t sow them in autumn, you could sow sweet peas now for the earliest blooms. They are going to need a little heat, but a bright windowsill will do.
Hedges and shrub propagation
- Propagate plants from hardwood cuttings. Always choose healthy shoots as cuttings. Easy ones to root include Forsythia, Escallonia, Ribes (currants), Cornus (dogwoods) and Salix (willow).
A selection of hardwood cuttings
- Trim Virginia creeper, Boston ivy, rambling roses and other climbers away from windows, gutters and eaves.
- Inspect leylandii hedges closely for aphid attack. If left untreated this is a pest that leads to brown patches. If aphids are present then thoroughly spray with a pesticide. Add a wetter - such as washing up liquid - to the mix to get good coverage.
- New hedges could be planted right now and especially those sold as bare-root plants. I'm thinking of beech, laurel, hawthorn or British native mix which is great for wildlife!
Bare root plants are great value