Let us hope now that the worst of the bad weather has passed and we can get on in the garden. In between the cold spells I have been helping plant trees with Vivienne my wife and friends, a mix of trees varying from just 15 inches to five feet high, and yes planted quite thickly so as they grow they can be thinned. We also fenced it to prevent wildlife making a meal of the trees as they try to develop. The next project is to add native bulbs and perhaps some wild flowers.

At this time of the year you should dig the area where you want to grow vegetables such as brassicas, broad beans, peas and runner beans, but only if the soil is not sodden or frozen solid. Whilst digging, why not add well-rotted manure from the bottom of your compost heap, or the matured results from a pile of stable manure. Or you may have to buy bags of organic matter derived from a combination of various sources. Any organic material dug into clay soil will improve drainage and structure to make digging easier and reduce the splits and cracks that often occur in hot, dry weather (just dreaming of those days ahead!). On sandy and chalky soils it will increase the water and nutrient holding capacity of the soil and reduce the tendency to dry out. Any soil improver can also be spread over the root area of existing plants such as roses, shrubs and fruit to reduce evaporation of moisture from the soil and to give the worms a good source of organic material to drag down to root level.

Don’t walk on the grass while it is frozen or frosted. Crushing the frozen blades of grass results in a burn that turns brown and the footsteps will be visible for weeks. In mild spells you may want to cut the grass to keep the lawn looking trim, especially if we get mild spells. Don’t be tempted to cut the grass to it’s shortest summer setting, but leave it much longer to reduce any harmful effects from subsequent frosts. Trim the outer edges of the lawn into shape to provide a clear definition between lush green lawn and the surrounding flowerbed. Remember do not feed it yet, it’s too early.

You can still plant some fruit trees, bushes and canes to provide tasty apples, gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, strawberries and raspberries. If your family don’t appreciate the health promoting benefits of home grown fruit, then it’s time to educate them.

Last but not least clean up any green mould growth on the patio slabs, brickwork or walls with one simple treatment with Patio Magic! Just water or spray on during a dry spell – the active ingredient works for several weeks to give great control of mould, lichen and algae.

Posted in Gardening By Ken Crowther On 22nd January 2010

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