Posted by: braddenvillage | January 16, 2011

Winter and Spring Gardening – by James

Winter & Spring Gardening

With extreme and prolonged periods of cold this winter there are undoubtedly many casualties in our gardens, from tender plants to pond life and frozen pipes to lifted paving, it shows us the extremes that what we create in gardens are subject to. With this in mind, and the highly likely possibility of a repeat in years to come, any repairs and new planting should be well considered and planned.

One benefit that the cold weather may have had is to reduce the number of flying insects, but on the flip side the struggling honey bee will also have found things hard, so if you have any spare space or a few pots a mix of seed for bees is very cheap and easy (

Any replaced plants and shrubs will benefit from a lot of TLC when planting, anything you can do to encourage a healthy root system makes the plant stronger and more likely to survive extremes of temperature. Plenty of organic matter as a mulch and incorporated in the soil when planting is great. I often use a small amount of controlled release fertilizer when planting as it encourages the roots to get deep fast, and ensures that food is there when the plant needs it most.

The basic maintenance tasks to be done in preparation for the Spring are mostly what hasn’t been done in the autumn! Lawns will benefit from spiking in February, and a good rake before the first cut in march (weather depending!) the first few cuts should be on a high setting- and pick up the clippings to improve air flow. If you allow a build up of thatch, moisture and fungus will make for a poor lawn. It can seem like a unnecessary chore to many, but a small amount of time once a year can really make a difference!Some jobs for the veg patch are chitting spuds, digging to let any late frosts break the soil up and sowing early crops like beetroot, broad beans, lettuce and cabbage indoors for planting out under cloches/protection at the end of march.

Other jobs best done now areTreating any timber- fences, trellis and decking. Ideally protecting any plants with a sheet and using a friendly preservative.Prune winter flowering shrubs if finished and prune summer flowering shrubs that flower on new wood.Cut back overgrown hedges and shrubs before the nesting season starts Continue to feed the birds! Its now that they are really in need of additional food as most of their wild foods are depleted. Prune any overgrown apple trees now and lightly summer prune every year thereafter.Renew grease bands on all fruit trees. Check any tree ties- remove if cutting into the bark. Last chance to plant any bare rooted fruit trees/hedging in mid march.Firm any newly planted shrubs that may have been lifted by frost.

Get ahead! Put stakes/pea sticks or other support in place before the plants need it and save damaging them later!

Good luck and here’s hoping for a terrific summer!

James – Gardens by James

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