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Gardener's Diary

January

In the coldest month, your garden may need protecting from frosts, gale-force winds and heavy rain, so remember to check stakes, ties, fleeces and other supports for damage and consider moving plants to sunnier positions. Ensure that you keep feeding the birds as food is scarce for them over winter. Here is a list of top jobs to do in January:

Keep putting out food and water for hungry birds

Dig over any vacant plots that have not been dug already

Repair and re-shape lawn edges

Inspect stored tubers of Dahlia, Begonia and Canna for rots or drying out

Ventilate the greenhouse on sunny days

Recycle your Christmas tree by shredding it for mulch

 

FRUIT & VEG PREPARATION:

Prune apple and pear trees

Start forcing rhubarb

Plan your vegetable crop rotations for the coming season

Prepare a polythene shelter for outdoor peaches and nectarines, to protect them from peach leaf curl

 

February

Spring is quickly approaching, with many bulbs & flowers appearing out of the ground.  As light levels and temperatures increase, there are the familiar sounds & signs of birds & wildlife waking up. With that in mind, there are lots of jobs that can be done indoors in February, all in preparation for the coming months, whilst outdoors, the garden is coming to life again and its time to prune shrubs.  Here is a list of top jobs to do in February:

 

PRUNING & PLANTING:

Prune winter-flowering shrubs that have finished flowering

Prune Wisteria

Prune hardy evergreen hedges and renovate overgrown deciduous hedges

Prune conservatory climbers

Cut back deciduous grasses left uncut over the winter

Divide bulbs such as snowdrops, and plant those that need planting 'in the green'

 

FRUIT & VEG PREPARATION:

Prepare vegetable seed beds, and sow some vegetables under cover

Chit potato tubers

Protect blossom on apricots, nectarines and peaches

Net fruit and vegetable crops to keep the birds off

 

March

By mid-March spring usually arrives and there is an opportunity for an increasing range of gardening tasks as the days get warmer and sunnier. It's time to get busy preparing seed beds, sowing seed, cutting back winter shrubs and generally tidying up around the garden, so here is a list of top jobs to do in March:

PLANTING:

Plant shallots, onion sets and early potatoes

Plant summer-flowering bulbs

Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials

 

PREPARATION:

Protect new spring shoots from slugs

Top dress containers with fresh compost

Mow the lawn on dry days (if needed)

Cut back Cornus (dogwood) and Salix (willow) grown for colourful winter stems

Weeds come back in to growth - deal with them before they get out of hand

Start feeding fish and using the pond fountain; remove pond heaters

Open the greenhouse or conservatory doors and vents on warm days

 

April

With summer just around the corner, April is an exciting month as the garden slowly starts to come to life again. Here's what you need to be doing in the garden in April:

Add new pond plants

Plant summer flowering bulbs

Prune shrubs and trees

Grow fresh peas

Bring our your geraniums

Plant onions sets

Prepare your hanging baskets

Apply mulch to the garden

Sow a selection of herbs

Look out for aphids

 

May

This is an exciting month for green fingers! The garden is coming alive, so it's important to keep on top of maintenance, but, crucially, with warmer weather upon us and little chance of frost, there's plenty of planting to keep us busy. Here is a list of top jobs to do in May:

Watch out for late frosts - protect tender plants

Collect rainwater and investigate ways to recycle water for irrigation

Earth up potatoes, and promptly plant any still remaining

Plant out summer bedding at the end of the month (except in cold areas)

Mow lawns weekly

Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs

Regularly hoe off weeds

Open greenhouse vents and doors on warm days

Watch out for viburnum beetle and lily beetle grubs 

Check for nesting birds before clipping hedges

 

June

This is a lively month - temperatures are rising, days are longer, and everything should be bursting into bloom. Above all, it's a month to take pleasure in your garden, throughout the days and evenings up to the longest day on June 21. Here are some things you can do in June:

 

SUMMER GARDENING:

Plant out summer bedding

Enjoy the roses

Trim hedges

Add grass clippings to the compost heap

Hang up summer baskets

Feed your local wildlife

 

FRUIT & VEG PLANTING:

Start picking salad leaves

Look after your tomato plants

Grow strawberries

Start picking herbs

 

July

This is a great time to enjoy your garden as the weather should be warm and sunny, and the best of your flowers should be in bloom.  Here are a few things that you can do during July:

Water regularly

Stake your tall blooms

Keep on top of weeding

Don't forget to dead-head

Plant out exotics

Persist with pests

Harvest your fruit and veg

Feed your plants

Create a water feature

Look after the lawn

 

August

In August we sometimes need a little help and inspriation.  It's typically the time we're in it most and it will be your garden's most blousy period so we need to keep on top of things and make everything look good.  Here are a few things to do in August:

Prune Wisteria

Lift and pot up rooted strawberry runners

Don’t delay summer pruning restricted fruits

Watering! Particularly containers, and new plants - preferably with grey recycled water or stored rainwater

Collect seed from favourite plants

Deadhead flowering plants regularly

Continue cutting out old fruited canes on raspberries

Keep ponds and water features topped up

Feed the soil with green manures

Harvest sweetcorn and other vegetables as they become ready

Start planning - save yourself time and money by tackling a few jobs while it's still warm and dry. Check your shed roof for leaks and give wooden surfaces such as fences and front doors a once over

 

September

The summer is almost over so your garden will need a little tlc over the coming months.  If you need some help and ideas for transforming your garden, then here are a few things you need to do in September:Seed your lawn

Plant a tree

 Control lawn weeds

Bring tender houseplants indoors

Continue to sow vegetables

Protect against disease

Pick summer fruits

Carry on Watering

Clean out your greenhouse

Keep it neat - prune your garden

 

October

 Although we had some warmer days over September, the autumn is now definitely here and it feels colder. It's a beautiful time of year, with the trees changing colour. Sometimes it may seem pointless raking, when the wind blows even more leaves onto the lawn, but just think of all the lovely leafmould you can make! It's also time to start preparing for early frosts, so here are some things to do in October:

Clear up fallen autumn leaves regularly

Move tender plants, including aquatic ones, into the greenhouse

Order seeds for next year

Harvest apples, pears, grapes and nuts

Prune climbing roses

Cut back perennials that have died down

Divide herbaceous perennials and rhubarb crowns

Last chance to mow lawns and trim hedges in mild areas

Plant out spring cabbages

Renovate old lawns or create new grass areas by laying turf

 

November

Leaves are falling rapidly, and wind and rain are on the increase so tender plants will need protecting from frost, gales and freezing rains. Move plants into the greenhouse, or into a sheltered spot, but if you can't, it is worth wrapping plants or pots. Remember winter can be a tough time for birds in terms of water and food, so keep supplies well topped up, but here are some things you can do in November:

Plant tulip bulbs for a spring display next year

Prune roses to prevent wind-rock

Stop winter moth damage to fruit trees using grease bands around the trunks

Put out bird food to encourage winter birds into the garden

Cover brassicas with netting if pigeons are a problem

Insulate outdoor containers from frost - bubblewrap works well

Use a seasonal bonfire - where this is allowed - to dispose of excess debris unfit for composting

Plant out winter bedding

Clear up fallen leaves - especially from lawns, ponds and beds

Clear up fallen leaves - especially from lawns, ponds and beds

 

December

Frost, rainfall and winds are increasingly common, sunshine hours are much reduced and it can be bitter with a risk of snow. It may be too cold outside at this time of year for you to work outside, but luckily there's not a lot to do. It's time to think about pruning apples and pears too so here are some things to do in December:

Harvest leeks, parsnips, winter cabbage, sprouts and remaining root crops

Check your winter protection structures are still securely in place

Check that greenhouse heaters are working OK

Prune open-grown apples and pears (but not those trained against walls)

Prune acers, birches and vines before Christmas to avoid bleeding

Take hardwood cuttings

Prevent ponds and stand pipes from freezing

Keep mice away from stored produce

Reduce watering of houseplants

Deciduous trees and shrubs can still be planted and transplanted