TOP 10 JOBS TO DO THIS MONTH
1. Protect new spring shoots from slugs
2. Plant shallots, onion sets and early potatoes
3. Plant summer-flowering bulbs
4. Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials
5. Top dress containers with fresh compost
6. Mow the lawn on dry days (if needed)
7. Cut back Dogwood Trees and Willow Trees that are grown for colourful winter stems
8. Hoe and mulch weeds to keep them under control early
9. Start feeding fish and using the pond fountain; remove pond heaters
10. Prune bush and climbing roses
- Time to plant seeds indoors as it is 4 to 6 weeks till the last frost for this area. You can start artichokes; Asparagus; Broccoli; Cabbage; Cauliflower; Celery; Fennel; Garlic; Kales; Leeks; Lettuces; Onions; Parsley; Peas; Peppers; Alyssum; Calendula; Columbine; Coreopsis; Cosmos; Delphinium; Hollyhock; Irises; Lupin; Marigolds; Nicotania; Poppies; Rudbeckia; Scabosia; Snapdragons; Stocks; Sweetpeas; Verbena; Veronica; Violas and Wallflowers.
- Clean greenhouse beds and prepare for early plantings. Wash all the inside walls, windows and other benches and chairs, getting it all sterilized and ready to add new soils, additives and composts.
- Wash and repaint planters for your yards, decks and fence railings. Tighten up joins by re-nailing and even try putting wire around the ends to ensure they are together. Make new stakes for your plants that require them; repaint fences, gates and posts; repair rock garden edges and other garden edges. Make a plan. Make a garden plan so that you know where all your flowers, vegetables and shrubs will be for the year. Draw maps of your yards and put charts together of all the plants that you want this year.
With warnings of a cold snap you may be concerned that some of your garden plants, which have shown signs of growth, may be damaged. Here is some advice from our horticultural team on how to best protect your plants.
- Even in mild areas, tender plants that cannot be left outside with protection should really be taken into the greenhouse when there is risk of a cold snap. In cold areas, you are best moving things inside much earlier, in the autumn. Any tender plants that are being over wintered outdoors need protective straw.
- In cold spells, protect non-frost proof containers (terracotta pots for example) with bubble wrap to prevent them cracking. Grouping the pots close to a south-facing wall may provide additional protection to the most vulnerable ones.
- Protect newly planted trees, hedges and shrubs from cold winds and frosts, which can loosen and lift the roots. Thick dry mulches will protect the roots from cold. A wooden frame with clear polythene stretched over it does a similar job for evergreens without blocking the light.
IN THE FLOWER GARDEN
- Prune your Wisteria plant now, cutting back summer side-shoots to 2 or 3 buds.
- Prune rose bushes now whilst they are dormant. Cut back to just above a bud and remove any crossing or dead branches.
- You can plant bare root roses now in a sunny position for spectacular summer color.
- If your garden is looking a bit bare, try growing a winter-flowering evergreen Clematis.
- Cut back the old foliage from ornamental grasses before growth begins – clip them to within a few centimeters of the ground.
- Cut down the old stems of perennial plants like Sedum – be careful of any new growth.
- Cut back damaged, diseased and the oldest stems of brightly colored willows, and thin overcrowded stems.
- Remove any faded flowers from your winter pansies to stop them setting seed.
IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
- Harvest parsnips and leeks that have been growing over-winter.
- If you’d like to grow early peas, place a cloche coverover the soil to let it warm up for a few weeks prior to sowing.
- Start chitting (sprouting) early potatoes – stand them on end in a module tray or egg box and place in a bright cool frost-free place
IN THE FRUIT GARDEN
- Begin pruning your apple trees and pear trees if you haven’t done so already – this is best done whilst they are dormant.
- Leave plums, cherries and apricots unpruned until the summer as pruning these fruit trees now will make them susceptible to silver leaf infections.
- Prune blackcurrant bushes, gooseberries and redcurrants to maintain a productive framework.
- Try forcing rhubarb plants by placing an upturned bucket or bin over the crown. This will force tender pink stems to grow that will be ready in about 8 weeks time.
- Continue to plant raspberry canes on sunny sites with free-draining soil.
- If you’re looking for something a bit different to add to your fruit garden, try the nutritious Blueberry PinkBerry.
- Order fruit bushes such as currants now and plant in a well prepared bed in a sheltered position; they will be a lot tastier than supermarket produce!
IN THE GREENHOUSE
- Brush heavy snow off of greenhouses and cold frames to prevent the glass being damaged.
- Keep your potato planters inside as frosts will kill the foliage.
- Plant Amaryllis bulbs in pots now for stunning indoor flowers in early spring.
- For better seed germination, try using electric propagators to help your early seedlings along.
FROM YOUR ARMCHAIR
- Order your seeds now. Have a garden plan drawn up to help decide the quantities you need.
- Plan your vegetable plot for this year to ensure good crop rotation and prevent pests and diseases building up in the soil.
- Consider dedicating a bed to perennial vegetables such as asparagus , rhubarb and artichokes . Order spring-planting crowns and tubers now in preparation for the spring.
- If you’d like to have a go at growing your own fruit, order your fruit trees now ready for planting in the spring.
- Now is the ideal time to order Clematis ready for planting in the spring.
- Start to think about your hanging baskets for this year. Order your Fuchsia plants , Geraniums and Lobelia now in preparation for the busy spring period.
OTHER JOBS IN THE GARDEN
- Brush heavy snow of off hedges and conifers to prevent the branches from snapping out under its weight.
- Shred your Christmas tree and add it to compost bins. Alternatively, the stripped-down branches make great pea sticks.
- Hang fat balls and keep bird feeders topped up to attract birds, who will in turn eat pests in your garden.
- Get rid of slimy patches on the patio, and paving by scrubbing with a broom or blasting with a pressure washer.
- Wash empty pots by scrubbing them with hot water and a mild detergent. Rinse them well afterwards.
- Consider purchasing water butts now ready for the summer. Rainwater is particularly useful for watering acid-loving, ericaceous plants (tap water is often slightly alkaline).
- Continue planting trees and shrubs while they are still dormant.
- If all you can see from your windows are unattractive sheds, composting areas and bins this winter, think about using evergreen climbing plants like Clematis ‘ Winter Beauty‘ or Clematis armandii as a screen, or just to add winter interest.
- Keep an eye on fruits and vegetables in storage and remove any that are diseased.
- Check Dahlia tubers in storage and remove any that are showing signs of rotting.
- Central heating can dry the air in your home and cause damage to indoor plants. Mist house plants regularly and stand them on a tray of pebbles filled with water to increase the humidity.