The Lady Gardener

Now that Christmas and New Year are over and you are, perhaps, feeling a little down after overindulging in all the festive spirit, it is a good time to start planning for the gardening year ahead.

January is often the coldest month and your garden could need protecting from frosts, gale-force winds and heavy rain.  Check fleeces, stakes, ties and other supports for damage and consider moving plants in pots to a sunnier spot to maximize the light they receive.

Think green, and if you had a real Christmas tree, consider taking it to the local Household Waste and Recycling Centre, where it will be composted down to make soil improver to go back on the garden.  For information about your local centre visit www.wycombe.gov.uk/council-services/environment/waste-and-recycling/waste-and-recycling-centres/household.aspx. Some garden centres also set up recycling projects, more information can be found on the above site in January.

If you like to grow your own vegetables and plant in last year’s pots or in the ground, you need to think about crop rotation.  Growing the same vegetable in the same soil will deplete the soil of certain nutrients and could also encourage pests.  E.g. potatoes in yr 1, legumes, onions and root veg in yr 2, and brassicas is yr 3.  It’s best to go to your local garden centre to buy your seeds.  There are many varieties to choose from, so why not be brave and try a new variety this year?

February brings signs of the approaching spring, with bulbs appearing and wildlife becoming more active, as light levels and temperatures increase.  Clean and repair you garden tools, book the lawn mower in for a service and check garden furniture for any rot.  When it is warm enough, treat sheds, fences and trellis with wood preservative.  Prepare vegetable seed beds and sow some vegetables under cover.  Now is also the time to chit your potato tubers.

If you are lucky enough to have some snowdrops and wish to increase your stock, this needs to be done while they are “in the green”.  Wait for the flowers to fade but the leaves are still green.  Dig up the clump and carefully separate out the bulbs into smaller clumps and replant in your chosen spots.

Prune hardy evergreen hedges and renovate overgrown deciduous hedges.  It is good to do this job early in the year, before the birds start looking for nesting sites and new growth starts. If you have roses, prune now.  When pruning, concentrate on removing overcrowded growth, crossing stems, and dead, damaged, or dying branches.  Aim for an open centre, through which air can circulate, as this will reduce the risk of pests and diseases.

By mid March spring usually arrives and, as the days become sunnier, the opportunity for getting out into the garden increases.  The garden could do with a thorough spring clean, so get out there.

Weed and dig over your borders incorporating as much organic matter as you can.  Mulch bare soil once you have done the work and remove moss and weeds from paths, patios and driveways.  If you don’t get on top of the garden now (especially the weeds!) it will be a nightmare for the rest of the season.

Plant shallots, onion sets and those early potatoes in your prepared beds or containers.  Some flower seeds can also be sown in pots on window sills in a sunny spot, so check your seed packets for planning times.

If you have clumps of perennials which have been in for about three years and are not flowering as well as they used to, it is a sign that they need to be divided.  Dig up the clumps and carefully separate them into smaller sections, discarding the old centre if it has become very woody and showing no sign of coming into life.  Replant with lots of organic matter and don’t forget to water, even if the ground is wet.

Start to mow the lawn on dry days (if needed) and assess the condition, as it may need a feed next month to give it a boost and kill any weeds and moss.

If you live on the Medmenham patch and you need help in your garden and feel I can help, do not hesitate to contact though
www.theladygardener.talktalk.net