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Blog posts tagged with 'tulips'

Winter Gardening

I am looking forward to winter in the garden.

The truth be told, last winter was so mild, I psychologically missed the hard frosts and snow. I know that sounds odd, but they have a very useful role in the garden. If you dig over your vegetable areas now - leaving the soil in large lumps - not only will mother nature help break the soil up properly, but the pests like slugs, wire worms and soil living aphids will be killed.

Last winter was so mild for many of us that all these pests continued to multiply causing headaches for us all spring and summer.

I am also looking forward to winter, because I am confident my feet and hands will be warm. The T & C premium suede gloves have never let my fingers down, (when combined with latex gloves for really cold days) and to top it off, I have purchased the Town and Country ‘Charnwood Boots’. Combined with a pair of boot socks, I will be warm and dry for the foreseeable future!


In the garden things are just slowing down so now is the time to start cutting back the perennials that need it – remember, some need the foliage for protection so look at your guidance notes. In the cool greenhouse,  you can also look at planting some sweet peas in pots for a good display next year. There are some lovely old varieties. On the veg plot, now is the time to sow broad beans and if you are so inclined, winter hardy peas. I am told that those that over-winter have less black-fly, but I have never truly found that to be the case. Either way, the plants get a head start and if the winter is another mild one, you will have a crop of broad beans in April as I did this year. You can always keep sowing from Spring all the way to June to get a succession of crops until September!

If you like tulips, now is also the time to plant them. Last year I must admit was a disaster as many bulbs rotted off or were eaten by the marauding slugs as they pushed up through the spring soil. If this is a recurring problem for you, I suggest you try a different area where the soil is not so wet. Tulips are beautiful, but not necessarily as hardy as narcissi.

Finally, add manure or other mulch to your borders. You will help the plants survive the worst of the weather by supplying the roots with a nice covering. Never apply mulch in Spring as you will keep the cold trapped in the ground for longer.

Things to do in the Garden in December

1. Keep the winter blues at bay by heading into the garden and feel the fresh air and listen to the birds. Don’t forget to plant your tulip bulbs this month for a lovely array of colour in the spring. Order your seeds if you haven’t already.

2. This is the time of year to find your shrubs for free after the leaves have fallen, by taking cuttings from hydrangeas, cornus albas, salix and buddleja of young, strong and healthy looking stems. Insert lengths around 20cm into pots. To take the cutting, cut at an angle just above a bud. Ensure about about 14cm of the cutting length is buried in the soil. They will root and be ready for planting next autumn.

3. Ensure your brussel sprouts are supported with cane and harvest from the bottom when they are 2cm in diameter. If you want to save having to go to your allotment or garden each time you want some sprouts, you can pick the whole stem of the plant and put outside your kitchen door in a bucket of water, so that the water just covers the roots. This will be fine for 1 week so you can always have a week’s supply of sprouts.

4. If you have any fruit or onions stored away, have a quick look through and pull out any rotting ones to save the rest of your crop from contamination. Watch out for any slugs.

5. This time of year, clear all your weeds. A good tip for paths is to ensure all the weeds are pulled out from the root and to prevent them from returning, water the cracks with salty water. They will never return.

6. Sow onion seeds thinly in seed compost trays from late December until mid February. These need to be kept around 15 degrees centigrade so a kitchen windowsill is ideal. When the seedlings have looped after germination, transfer to single cells in a cooler place but ensure it is frost free, so that you are gradually building them up for the outdoors in the late spring. When you plant outdoors keep 30cm between each plant. Onions will be ready in August for picking.

7. Keep your compost covered to avoid excess rain destroying all the nutrients

8. Fit boxes for birds, bats, butterflies and bees. Apples, nuts, cake and cooked pasta are all good for feeding the birds. Wooden Hanging bird feeders are available in purple, red, blue or white at just £9.99 from Town and Country.

9. Piles of leaves, a compost heap, piles of twigs and long grass are great habitats for hedgehogs, earthworms and other creatures.

10. Protect tender plants from the wind and frost.

-- Rob Amey

Garden Round Up for November

So many Gardeners think November is the month to shut up shop when it comes to the garden and head for the warmth in doors, but if you do you’ll be missing out. Get yourself wrapped up and head out to see the garden delights in the low sun this time of year. Gardening is a wonderfully relaxing activity because it releases tension and as a result, reduces the amount of circulating stress hormones in the body, while the act of cultivation itself is soothing for the soul. I find that I can lose hours pottering about in the garden this time of year.There’s plenty to be doing this month. Here’s my top ten.

1. November is the month for ground work for the Spring ahead and working on any structural changes to your garden or allotment and improving its design.

2. This is the ideal time to dig over all the beds, improve the soil and sort out any unruly areas.

3. Collect up fallen leaves and store in hessian sacks. Next year they will be lovely compost. Net ponds to avoid leaves falling in.

4. The ideal month is November for planting tulip bulbs to provide plenty of colour in the Spring. Plant them in pots covered in gravel to keep them safe from squirrels.

5. Many would not consider November a month for planting, but now is the ideal time for preparing your early crops of peas and beans. Seeds sown now whilst the ground is still warm and with rain will germinate before the worst of the winter weather hits us. Cover young plants with a cloche and if it is particularly cold use a fleece too.

6. Heathers add colour this time of year. Take a visit to your garden centre and see the colour variety on offer.

7. November is the month for harvesting beetroot, celeriac and carrots. When harvesting divide into two piles – one for good sized crops and a pile for damaged. Any damaged ones are great for chopping up and using in soups.

8. Move your herbs by your kitchen door so that you have a handy supply during winter. If you have herbs growing in your borders, transfer some to a window box or pot to keep a supply of mint, chives, fennel and oregano close by to where you cook.

9. This month, cleaning is key – greenhouses, cloches, pots and polythene tunnels to remove dirt and any fungal spores.

10. Plant any onions and garlics. A handy tip is to snip the ends to make it more difficult for the birds to pull them out.

-- Rob Amey