January is the coldest month with gales and rain and possibly snow,
It may be early spring but the weather can be misleading, icy winds and wet weather but on milder days you can make a start on many garden jobs that can be done.
The soil temperature as well as the air temperature is also important, if the soil temperature is less than 7c few seeds will germinate, you can use a soil thermometer to check the soil before you sow seeds.
Most sowing can be done in a greenhouse. Try and avoid working and walking on the soil if it sticks to your boots and tools as if it is too wet it can be damaging. Place plastic or cloches over the soil to help warm and dry it out for a few weeks before planting, and use wooden planks to walk over rather than treading directly onto the soil.
Watch the weather forecast just in case frost has been predicted and then take any necessary action i.e. cover newly planted specimens with garden fleece or newspaper at night and remove it during the day.
Spring is the ideal time to plant trees and shrubs because to soil moist and warm, you can plant container grown plants at any time providing the ground is not frozen or too wet.
Trees and shrubs do not need pruning on a regular basis unless the space they are in has become to overcrowded. Then annual pruning is needed to keep them in their bounds.
If you have a patchy area on your lawn that needs improving you can over sow it with grass seed or create a new lawn from scratch.
To over sow an area rake the area thoroughly and to remove any dead grass or moss, prick over the bare areas with a fork and sow the grass seed, rake the seed into the bare patches, water well and use black cotton to protect the area from birds.
Sowing bedding plants and early vegetables can be sown now under cover in most areas as long as you provide the right conditions for germination and growing on. Seeds need air, warmth, moisture and light to germinate. Depending how quickly they germinate is on how well you control these conditions as well as the type of seed you use.
Seeds will not germinate if the temperature is to low or too high but does vary from species to species. Having the right facilities and space to grow your seeds on is essential. Picking out and potting are critical stages of development and can affect how the plants grow thereafter.
For most seedlings lower temperatures will slow growth so ideally temperatures of 15-19c to provide the best growing environment in which the plants can grow and develop without suffering a check in growth.
JOBS IN BRIEF
This is the busiest and most exciting time of the year. The garden has some beautiful colours at this point, and seedlings and cuttings are growing fast, outdoor sowing and planting can begin now. Temperatures may start to rise but cold snaps can be even more damaging even more so with the strong winds, not-so-hardy plants may still need some protection as with new growth and flowers on hardy plants too.
Keep some cloches handy to cover any seedlings or outdoor sowing as heavy rain is common around this time of year and can wash these away.Vegetables can be sown straight into a prepared seed bed during mid-spring. Carrots, Lettuce, Peas, Spring onions, Radishes,Spinach and Cauliflowers are popular crops which can be sown in mid-spring.
Lawn care is now requiring your care too now.
Take steps now to ease the work load later on in the season. Your lawn will take up most of your gardening time from now on. The bigger the lawn the more time it takes to maintain and keep looking its best.
Now is a good time to create your pond or make a bog garden or rockery.
You can start to plant hanging baskets using small plants, the basket are hung in a light and frost-free place; until its safe to put them outside in late-spring or early-summer. A greenhouse is perfect for this.
Herbs can be grown in the garden as well as in pots and containers sat on the kitchen window sill, but herbs are great for containers as they are fairly drought tolerant and they can be used in hanging baskets.
JOBS IN BRIEF
It might feel as though summer is already here but in some places we are still prone to frosts. Wait to see when gardeners start to plant summer bedding in parks they would have assessed the risks of frosts.The weather is starting to improve so it will be ok to start planting out the more tender plants, except in exposed areas of the garden.
The beginning of summer, this is the time when you can relax and enjoy your garden at its best, you deserve it after all the effort you put into it through the Spring. But don't get too relaxed there are still jobs to be doing to keep your garden at its best throughout the summer, weeding, dead heading etc..
Early summer is a good time to add a mulch to the garden, Water and weed the ground first add the mulch to the beds this will help with weed control. Chipped bark, weed control sheeting, gravel, garden compost, and leaf moulds all act as a mulch. Mulch is also decorative so will make the plots look even better.
Dead heading annuals and perennials will produce better and lasting blooms. Annuals will produce more blooms if the faded flowers are trimmed, the Annual does this as it only last for one season, so it grows, flowers, sets seed then dies so if you stop them from setting seed they try again by producing more blooms.
Bedding plants need dead headed as they can produce too many flowers to make dead heading worth doing, but it helps to keep your plants looking there best and can help by spotting any possible problems early. Pinching out, cutting with scissors, using secateurs and shears are all ways of dead heading. Pinching out is best used on plants that produce branching flowers, this is done by pinching off the stem from behind the flower head.
Flowers that grow on long stems are better off cut from the bottom of the stem with scissors. Plants with thick stems are cut with secateurs as their trunks are to thick to cut with scissors.
You can cut back a whole plant after flowering. Take the opportunity to examine and tidy your permanent shrubs, A light trim is what most of them need at this time off year, catch up with some light pruning that you might have missed in the spring.
Some deciduous shrubs can become bare at the base and only produce flowers at the top of the plant if not regularly attended. Evergreens are used more for their ornamental foliage such as Holly and Laurals these are good plants as they need little attention.
Light clippings to low growing shrubs can be done after flowering to keep them tidy. large flowering shrubs can be clipped after flowering if needed. Use secateurs to cut back any water damaged or dead stems, all green shoots on a variegated plant is easily spotted and should be removed to stop it becoming over run and swamped and then spoiling the overall appearance of the plant.
Weeding is a long and continuous job in the garden, keeping your veggie patch free from weeds is important as the weeds use the essential nutrients and water that you vegetables need to thrive to their very best.They can also cause pest attacks and hold fungal diseases and this is not good for healthy crops.
Preparation of the soil in winter and early spring is a good place to begin, Remove all perennial weeds.Perennial weeds have long roots that penetrate the soil very deep. These are best forked out, loosening the roots get the weed by the stem and pull up the whole weed. try to get the whole root as any of the plant left in the ground will regrow.
Regular hoeing is another way of weeding but needs to be done often. Keep your hoe sharp this will make it easier to use, the best time to do hoeing is in the morning on a
warm dry day.
Hold the hoe so it slices through the weeds just under the surface instead of uprooting them and disturbing the soil, the weeds can be left on the top of the ground to wilt and die.
Neglected weeding should be done by hand when the ground is moist this will make getting the weed roots out a lot easier, the whole root should be removed, then hoe off the rest of weeds as before. See Anlex website for more details and a video on how to Hoe.
Black plastic laid on the soil will help prevent weeds from growing between your crops.Weed control available in store in 10m, 20m, or off the roll for larger areas.Pest and disease control is a must in the green house, Biological control is a natural way to help with pest such as a parasitic wasp will help control white fly.
The green house is a perfect way to practice biological control methods, The pests can be kept where they are needed and will thrive in the protected environment.Introduce the biological control method as soon as you notice any pests. Remove any fly traps and insect traps and dont use chemical sprays as this will kill the biological control.
These tiny white flies rise up when they are disturbed, they suck on the sap and gather on the underside of the leaves. Using a biological control, systemic insecticide or sticky strips can be used for pest control.
Grey mould causes felty patches on leaves fruit and stems. Clear away any infected parts of the crop and yellow leaves to prevent any infections and ventilate the green house well.
June is a good time attend to those over grown and straggly plants.
Outside the fruit and vegetables will need water through long dry spells. Carrots, cabbages, broad beans, early potatoes, and peas are reaching maturity and are reading to be harvested.
Early summer is an in-between time of the year, with the spring flowers die off and the summer shrubs bursting into life your garden might look a bit plain and boring use bright summer bedding to give an injection of colour.
Marigolds Begonias Inpatients (busy lizzy)
Hanging baskets can be made, left to settle for a few days then hung in the required place, remember to water them regular. Bedding plants make a great addition to hang baskets with an array of colour and hanging pieces.
If you don't know where to start on making a hanging basket come to the garden centre and see Laura she can assist you in making your very own master piece or watch the "How to make a hanging basket video" on the websites home page.
Jobs in brief.
Dead head flowers.
Prune back shrubs.
Attend neglected shrubs
Plant baskets, tubs and window boxes.
Lettuce, beets and cabbages can be harvested.
Sow French beans.
Feed and water crops.
This is the time of year you can really start to enjoy the garden. Regular dead heading weeding and watering are the main jobs now. As before for June use a Hoe on a warm sunny day to remove weeds, you can leave the weeds on the soil to wilt and die down saves time and energy getting rid of the waste.See Anlex website for video on hoeing.
Watering is important this time of year, keep plants moist by watering in the morning before the sun is at its hottest and at night when its cooled down, try not to water after 10am, unless plants are risk free of full sunlight, water close to the ground around the base of the plant.
Wet leaves will burn if they get watered in direct sunlight and turn brown and crispy. Use dish water to water hanging baskets and tubs at night saves water.
Use watering cans and water from rain butts to help save water from the hose tap.
this may take a bit longer but while there is a hose pipe ban it will be the only way to water your garden through drought periods.
Propagating, There are many plants you can propagate, shrubs, climbers, flowers and bulbs are all easy to propagate. Growing your own plants will save you money and gives you a great sense of pride and satisfaction.
Semi-ripe cuttings. Choose almost grown shoots, most cuttings are better made form shoots 5-10cm long, remove the lower leaves from the stem be careful not to damage
the stem, Using rooting powder/gel is optional, dip the stem into water then in the root powder tap off any excess powder, place cuttings into a small trench and firm the soil around the base of the stems to make sure there is no air pockets, this will cause the new roots to dry out, insert a label so you can see what was planted there.
Small leaved hebes, dwarf lavender, Euonymous are all easy plants to propergate this time of year, Cuttings from hardy plants will do well outside this time off year although they will be better propagated in a cold frame or propagator, Take cuttings now of Abelia, cystus, Weigela and Fuchsia to use against winter losses.
You can use seeds from flowers already in the garden, Collect seeds from annual and perennial flowers as this means you wont have to replace them the following year, Bear in mind that not all will produce plants that are the same as the parent plant, such as plants with variegated leaves may produce plain leaves, using collected seeds may produce new and interesting varieties.
Vegetables need room to grow and not run short of water and nutrients to grow well, Most soils provide nutrients naturally but as long as the ground was prepared with plenty of well-rotted organic matter and regular maintenance should give you better crops.
An extra feed should be applied to crops such as brussels, cabbages and cauliflowers if grown in poor soils. Phosphate and potash are found in most soils so for leafy crops use a high nitrogen fertilizer to give them a boost.
Potatoes and root crops should be given a phosphate fertilizer as they produce top growth.
Fruit crops like tomatoes and courgettes do better using a fertilizer with high levels of potash, or you can use a all purpose feed that contains all 3 major nutrients.
Pests can still be a problem and the best way to keeping them at bay is by being vigilant and catch outbreaks early so you can take the right action. Aphids, Black fly on broad beans are common they will move from crop to crop, french beans, runner beans. If you garden organically you may wish to wait for natural predators to bring the outbreaks under control, but plants will be weaker and the possible loss of crops.
You can rub off colonies of insects off and remove the tips of broad beans as the black fly like to gather at this part. As a last resort you could use a suitable insecticide.broad beans as the black fly like to gather at this part. As a last resort you could use a suitable insecticide.
Carrot fly. This insect is black and shiny and likes to lay their eggs at the stem of the carrots and other related plants.The grubs hatch and burrow down into the roots thus ruining your crops. Sprinkle a suitable soil insecticide into the seed drill before sowing. Late crops sown in early summer should not be affected. these carrots have suffered from carrot fly.
There are many insects and bugs around that can damage crops and plants but early detection and the use of a suitable insecticide can help deter problems
Jobs in Brief
Weeding, watering and dead heading,
Take soft wood cuttings.
Save flower seeds.
Give a feed to plants that need a boost.
August also know as late summer, this time of year can be very hot and dry, watering is still a must.Your garden should be flourishing and full of bright colours. Most people are going on holiday at this time of year so prepare your garden for when you are away,
Put all tubs in a part of spare shady ground up to the rim this will help to retain moisture and wont get hot and dry out. Do this before you go away, smaller pots can be inserted into larger pots filled with moistened compost. Stand the containers on a piece of plastic lined with capillary matting with one side of the matting draped over into a bucket or pot of water filled to the top, the capilary matting will soak the water up through it.
Or if you have friendly neighbour that would pop in at some point through the day could help, Get them to harvest crops that might be ripe and you can always get them to take some crops off your hands.
Planting bulbs can be planted in unused areas at this point, it is best to let the summer bedding continue to flower for as long as possible so you get to keep the summers colours.
Fork over the soil before planting. Add some well rotted manure if the plants are be left in place for a few years, if the soil is heavy try adding some grit or sharp sand.
Add some bone meal this will provide nutrients and bone meal mainly contains phosphates.If you want to plant a permanent display, dig a hole three times the depth of the bulb, space the bulbs in the holes.
Set bulbs on their bases, cover the bulbs with the loose soil, careful not to disturb them, firm the soil using the back of a rake.Finally label where you have planted and what they are so you don't forget what's been put where.
Now is the time to sort you hedge and ground cover out if you haven't already done so. Most hedging needs regular trimming to give you a more dense and bushy growth,
this can be done with shears but most of you probably have powered trimmers, Long leaf hedging should be cut back with secateurs so to avoid cutting through the leaves and leaving the hedge looking messy, Beech and holly should only be cut once a year but fast growing hedges like privet and honeysuckle need to be attended to from spring to keep them in shape
Your vegetable patch will be thriving now and will need harvesting everyday, You will use some of the crop possibly straight away but you will need to store the rest to enjoy later on in the year.
Harvesting fruits when they are in their prime trying not to damage it, the best to store fruit is to freeze it as this keeps its flavours.Layer the fruit with dry sugar or in syrup, although soft fruit can be frozen in open trays before they are bagged or boxed. Left over fruit can be made in jams or preserves.
Tender plants such as Fuchsia and bedding geraniums can be potted up and over wintered in the green house to be used for cuttings for next spring.
Jobs in brief
Watering, weeding and dead heading.
Trim hedges and ground cover.
Harvest veg such as Aubergines, french beans, potatoes sweet corn.
Choose a suitable way for storing fruits and veg.
Keep an eye on the weather in the Autumn, it can bring us the extra long heat waves or the first bite for winter. Temperatures can drop slowly through the season, because of the shortening of the day and the lower sun.
The mist in the mornings are common now same as the evening dew.
Some areas suffer with severe frosts and in others light frosts may occur later on in the season. Keep check on the decreasing temperatures at night and give protection to the plants that need it most. Put potted plants in a shed or greenhouse over night and cover ground plants that are not hardy with a fleece or protective sheeting.
Be prepared for early frosts.
Planting Spring and Summer Flowers.
Now summer is coming to an end your flowers are starting to look dull and wilted, remove old bedding plants and dig over the ground, this will make the area look tidy.
Most plants can go on the compost heap if they are not diseased.
Keep ripe seeds for sowing in the spring or now if the plant is hardy enough to cope with the winter.
After digging over the ground add some bone meal if the soil is in poor condition, the bone meal is slow-acting, root builder.
Bulbs can be planted now as well as spring bedding raised by yourself. Lift the plants from their containers with as much soil around the roots a possible.
Space the plants but leave enough room for the bulbs to be planted, working your way from the back.
Mowing the lawn is coming to an end now, but there are other lawn jobs that can be done to keep your lawn looking great. Removing leaves is one job at this time of year, rake the leaves in to a pile and using leaf grabbers or even 2 pieces of squared wood pick up the leaves and throw into the compost bin.
Leaves lying on top of the lawn can cause the grass to yellow and can cause disease, collect the leaves in black sacs with small punctured holes in them tie the tops and hide them away, when the leaves rot down they are ideal for use as a soil conditioner or planting mix for next spring.
Bare patches on the lawn caused from the summer wear and tear. Dips in the lawn can be raised by applying a lawn topdressing, or finely sieved topsoil, only add about 1cm at a time as the grass will not be able to breath and will suffer suffocation.
If the dips are deeper then 1cm you will have to add more topdressing throughout the season this will give the grass a chance to grow through the layer of topdressing before the next application. To remove humps and bumps use a sharp spade make a H shape with cross of the H through the hump then cut under the turf then peel back the grass on both sides to leave a patch of soil.
Remove the soil to ground level then place the turf that you peeled back flatten and firm using the back of the spade, fill any gaps using a garden soil mixed with sharp sand and water in well.
Bare patches can be mended by first spiking the ground this will reduce compaction scuff the area with a hand fork then add a all-purpose fertilizer working into the soils surface layer level out and apply some grass seed, cover the seed with a light covering of sieved garden soil then gently water in. Moss can be removed by applying an autumn lawn feed and moss killer.
Allow the moss killer to turn brown before raking, removing thatch is a tiring job using a lawn rake if you have a huge area of lawn then its recommended you hire a powered lawn rake
Plant Bulb Containers.
Plant in containers for an early flourish of colour at the start of next spring. Use tulips and daffodil bulbs with a touch of evergreen ivy and small conifer trees for all year round interest. Add winter bedding and replace in the summer with summer bedding.
Get a container pot with drainage holes in the bottom, place some broken crock in the base of the pot this will stop the pot from getting water logged, add 2.5cm of multi-purpose compost to the container, if planting is going to be permanent then you can mix some of the soil from the summer bedding.
Tulips and Daffodils can be planted lowest with space between each bulb, then cover with more compost and the smaller bulbs like crocus and scillas can be planted on top positioned between the larger bulbs.
Be careful not to swamp the smaller bulbs with the large bulbs so positioning and using the right selection of bulbs will ensure you get a beautiful display early next spring.
Jobs in Brief
Remove thatch and moss from the lawn
Feed and weed the lawn
Clear summer bedding
Tidy leaves off the lawn
Plant early spring containers
Now is the time of year to be aware for frost warnings, so keep a close eye on the weather for your region.Planting of trees and shrubs is ideal at this point of the year because the soil is moist and still warm enough to help quick establishment.
Container grow shrubs and trees can be planted at any time of the year providing the soil is not too wet or frozen. Brighten the garden with containers planted with bedding plants for the winter. As this is the start of the dormant season you can plant bare-rooted shrubs and trees from now onwards.
Soak the root ball well and prepare the soil before planting.Recycle garden rubbish now to start your compost heap. Chop or shred woody matters before placing in the compost heap and almost all of your garden and kitchen waste can be put into the heap too.
Do not put cooked food waste, perennials or diseased waste into the compost heap cooked food waste may attract vermin. Extreme cold and wet are the main winter killers in the garden, even well established plants can be at risk.
You can place wind barriers to help protect plants from extreme winds.
Prepare your green house for use over the winter. Grow bulbs in a natural setting where they can be left undisturbed to multiply and spread, the bulbs will flower year after year with the least maintenance.
Save tender dahlia tubers by lifting them from the ground and storing them for next year. Wait for the first frost to blacken the foliage, using a fork to minimize the risk of damage. Cut the old stem off so you are left with about 5cm long stump, stand upside down to drain any moisture from the hollow stems and keep in a warm dry frost free place. Keep bulbs and tubers somewhere you can check them easily to make sure they are ok, if any have rotted remove them and destroy any that have been affected.
Now is the time to prune rambling roses, remove any damaged or dead shoots and cut shoots back in sections.Create winter interest with pots, containers and hanging baskets filled with winter bedding and evergreens, place along paths or doorways, to brighten up the garden in winter.
Evergreens and perennials are worth buying for winter containers, Euonymus or small leaved herbs can provide structure and colour to any display.Plant bulbs and winter bedding for an ever changing and colourful throughout the winter months.
Jobs in Brief.
Plant new shrubs and hedges
Protect containers raising them off the ground.
Wrap frost tender plants for protect from the frost.
Pot up herbs for winter use.
Insulate the green house
Make leaf mould from the fallen leaves.
Insulate green house with thermal screens.
Do a soil test as this will help to guide you with what will do well planted in the ground but looking at existing plants already in your garden is a good guide. To test what type of soil you have wet a small lump of soil and rub between your finger and thumb if its gritty then the soil contains sand, if it's slippery and slimy it contains clay particles, if it's not like either it is probably a mixture of sand, silt and clay also known as loamy soil.
Clay soils contain tiny particles that clump together so water cannot drain away and doesn't penetrate. In spring clay soil can be hard to work with as it is cold and wet, in the summer it can dry out and become solid. But water retention in clay soils is normally quite fertile.
Sandy soil particles are larger, so it's recommended not to pack down so water can drain freely through soil. Sandy soil in the spring is easy to work with but can dry out in the summer.
Silty soil is normally free draining but hold the moisture far better than sandy soils, but its easily compacted if walked on when its wet.
Loam soils tend to contain clay, silt and sand giving you the best conditions for your plant growth, its free draining but holds moisture and fertile. It warms up quickly in spring and does not dry out too much in the summer.
Acid or Alkaline.
Testing your soil to see what the PH measurement is will help determine what you can plant in the ground. The PH scale is measured from 1 to 14 with 7 being the midpoint is neutral if its above 7 the soil will be more alkaline while anything under 7 is more likely to be acid but most plants prefer a PH of around 6.5 slightly on the acid side of neutral.
You can improve the soil by adding a well rotted organic matter, unless you have peaty soil which is already rich of organic matter, it is worth adding as much manure and garden compost as you can.
Organic matter can be dug into the ground or applied as a mulch and left for the worms to take down under ground.The organic matter can act like a sponge in light sandy soils helping to retain moisture but in clay soils it opens up the structure to help with drainage and will also help with the fertility of poor soils because it releases the nutrients as it breaks down.
You may have already started to protect your plants from the winter weather but if you have forgot or not got round to doing it there may already be some damage. Cover any tender plants now that can be saved.
Cover low growing winter flowering plants with a cloche, If you don’t have a cloche improvise with some clear plastic stretched over wire hoops or a pane of glass supported on bricks weighed down so the glass is not blown away.
Late winter is a good time to sow frost tender plants for the summer bedding the following year, if you have heated greenhouse.
Jobs in Brief.
Protect plants from the frosts.
Insulate cold frames if not already done.
Service your mower.
Order seeds bulbs and plants for next season.
Tidy up the garden, add fresh stones or chippings where needed.
Renew lables on shrubs and border plants.
Finish winter digging.
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I bring my potted bougainvillea into the conservatory about the beginning of October. Then take it outside end of April, beginning of May. This year it
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