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Gardener's Diary

January 2012

An introduction from Rosemary Martin...

RosemaryI have been gardening now as a hobby for about forty years, but have no formal training.. I don't have a favourite style of gardening, traditional is nice, but I also think the modern trends work well. 

This column adds a new dimension to my interest in all aspects of horticulture and will hopefully help others find pleasure in this healthy and therapeutic pastime ... 

Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of laterlife, remembering to tell me which country you are from.. 

Click here for previous editions of Gardener's Diary..


 

CyclamenJanuary, the start of a new year when we can shake off the gloom of the dreary, dark months of early winter.. I enjoy a leisurely session wandering around some of our local garden centres at this time of year, evaluating what`s new or trendy without the hassle of the summer time visitors. The staff seem to have more time to stop and answer questions and it is particularly enjoyable walking through the heated greenhouses with their glorious scent of indoor flowering plants..

January can be a mild month, allowing us to have a few hours pottering in the garden, getting some much valued fresh air and exercise, wrapped up well with plenty of layers of course. Gone are the days it seems, of closing our gardens up for the winter months, as recent milder winters in the UK (apart from the last three) allow year round gardening. As an alternative to expensive sessions in the gym, gardening provides some invigorating and healthy exercise..


 

Tips and jobs for the month.. (Depending on the weather of course!)

Bad weather tips and jobs

If we have snow, try to clear it off the trees and shrubs as soon as you can, to stop it bending or breaking the branches. Use a long-handled broom to knock it off.

Don`t walk on frosty lawns as the black footprints left behind will take ages to disappear

In prolonged frosty weather keep a small area of your pond ice-free. This allows the escape of gases resulting from the decomposition of vegetation on the bottom of the pond, which if trapped may asphyxiate the fish.

SnowdropAfter a sharp frost check that winter bedding such as wallflowers has not been lifted. If this happens await the thaw and firm the plants back. In the spring you can prune off any frost blackened stems from shrubs.

Turn off the water supply to your outside tap and make sure there is no residue water in the pipes.

Cover any tender plants with paper or horticultural fleece if frost is expected.

 

Indoor jobs

Wash and disinfect any seed trays or pots that are going to be used during the coming season.

You can make early sowings of fine seeded bedding plants like petunia, lobelia and fibrous rooted begonias in a heated propagator, but they cannot be put in the garden until June in the UK. Do you really want to nurture them for five months? Leave seed sowing until April if you can..

Sow greenhouse tomatoes, peppers and aubergines under heat

Bring potted bulbs such as hyacinths and narcissi indoors when the buds are just showing. Place them first in a cool room with as light a position as possible to ensure the foliage grows slowly and evenly without getting `leggy`

Exhibition onions should be sown under glass. Use a soil-based compost and keep in full light, but cool and frost-free.

Take some time right now to plan this year's vegetable plot so that you know what to order.

Choose this year`s flower seeds from your catalogues and place your orders now to be sure of your first choice of varieties.

 

Outdoor mild weather jobs

If the grass continues to grow, mow it with the mower blades set high. Grass should be cut no lower than 2.5cm and the cuttings should be removed.

On a mild day, empty the greenhouse, sweep it out well, wash it down, scrub down timbers and benches, and generally disinfect with Jeyes Fluid if it is still available (I have seen it in DIY shops, despite rumours of it being banned)

Get the vegetable patch or allotment off to an early start, by warming the soil; Place a row of cloches or a stretch of clear polythene in a sunny area, in preparation for new sowings in a few weeks time.

CrocusMost deciduous trees are best pruned when dormant, in late autumn or winter. Don't prune in early spring, as many trees bleed sap if cut at this time of year..The exceptions to the 'deciduous tree' rule are maple, horse chestnut, birch, walnut and cherry trees.. Do not prune spring flowering plants, like forsythia as you would be removing their spring flowers. These shrubs can be pruned when they have finished flowering.

Plant roses or shrubs if the ground is not frozen.

If your mower need sharpening, servicing or any new parts, this is the time to do it.

 

There is absolutely no excuse for piling on those extra pounds with all this gardening waiting to be done! You will feel so good and invigorated after a couple of hours outside on a winter`s day..

 


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