Posted on: 10th September, 2019
Protect vulnerable plants from frost damage and scorching due to cold winds.
Warm up the soil for early sowings by covering an area with a polythene sheet, or cloches. If weed seedlings germinate under this all well and good, just hoe them off.
Seed potatoes are around now, buy them soon while there is still a good choice of varieties available. Stand them in trays with the end with the most buds uppermost in a light, frost-free place to begin to sprout or “chit”. Plant them outdoors in late spring.
January is the best month to winter wash fruit trees and rose bushes, using Vitax or Growing Success Winter Tree Wash.
Keep off frosted or wet grass. If dry give the lawn a trim over before getting the mower serviced.
Check over Hellebores and remove any foliage showing the characteristic black blotches of leaf spot disease. Even if this means removing most of the leaves the plants will soon recover.
Remember to feed your garden birds and make sure that water is also available for them.
Continue to prepare the vegetable garden for the new season, unless it is too wet to dig. If you get desperate you could always spread your weight by working off a plank.
Apples and pears, but not plums, cherries or any stone fruits, as well as currants, gooseberries, and summer fruiting raspberries can all be pruned now.
If you have a heated greenhouse, plant up some sprouted seed potatoes in 12 inch pots of John Innes compost No 3. The crop should be ready in April.
Seeds are uppermost in gardeners’ minds at the moment. Make sure that you buy yours soon as some varieties may be in short supply.
Check over your trees and shrubs, as this is a good time to prune off any dead, diseased or misplaced branches except on plums and cherries.
If your greenhouse is empty, clean and disinfect it ready for the new season. In an unheated greenhouse, or cold frame, sow some early salads. Try winter lettuce, forcing radishes, spring onions and stump-rooted carrots.
Avoid overwatering foliage plants, while plants in flower are likely to need more frequent watering. Keep an eye open for pests and diseases.
Cut back climbing plants, like Virginia creeper, ivy, climbing hydrangea etc. grown on house walls by at least 45cm (18in) from all window and door frames. The plants can continue growth in spring without obstructing them.
The ready germinated seedlings and young plug plants should be available now ready for growing on in a heated greenhouse. This method removes some of the risk of growing your own plants from seed, as well as offering young plants that can only be propagated by cuttings.
Privet hedges that have been allowed to get out of control can be cut back hard at this time of year. This will encourage strong new growth from the base.
Hedges are often ignored when it comes to feeding, so give them a dressing of pelleted chicken manure now. It will provide a gentle boost through the growing season.
This is a good time to apply garden lime, especially in the vegetable plot. Lime and manure should never be applied at the same time, so where manure was dug in during the autumn, put the lime on now.