Grow Your Own:
*Cover strawberries with about 2 inch of hay or straw.
*Finish picking your Pears and Apples – remember to only store the unblemished fruit otherwise they will rot in storage and it may spread to the sound fruit.
*Grape vines growing can be pruned from now onwards and through the winter – under glass this will allow more light to other plants growing or overwintering in the greenhouse.
* Stake any Brussel sprout stalks that look tall and unstable and therefore vulnerable to wind rock.
*When the leaves have fallen from the fruit trees they can be sprayed with a winter wash which will kill any overwintering insects or their eggs and give you a clean start to next season.
*Garlic and shallot bulbs can still be planted if the weather remains dry and not too cold.
*Remember that although many house plants become dormant over the winter months, pests and diseases do not and will run rampant if left unchecked. Check and treat regularly so your houseplants are fighting fit in the spring.
* Now that the central heating is on regularly the air in your home will be much drier. Try misting your plants regularly or stand them on a tray or saucer filled with gravel or pebbles and keep it topped up with water. Do not allow the plant to actually sit in the water or it will get too wet and the roots will rot.
*Some heat may be necessary in the greenhouse now if the nights have been cold – most plants will only need the frost keeping out. In a small greenhouse a fan or paraffin heater should be sufficient. Maintaining higher temperatures constantly will need more thought (and money!).
*Complete removing crops that have finished if you haven’t done this already and disinfect the greenhouse with Jeyes Fluid to help stop diseases building up.
*With the colder weather and the decrease of natural foods wild birds will need feeding regularly, especially with high calorie fatty foods.
*Ensure a constant supply of fresh clean water is available for the birds.
*Avoid walking on frosted lawns first thing as it will often result in damage to the lawn and subsequently brown patches of dieback.
*If you haven’t stored your dahlias yet because it has been insufficiently cold then this is the month to do it before they get damaged. Lift, dry off, dust with sulphur powder and store in a dry frost free place.
*Cut down any herbaceous plants that have finished flowering and that do not have a strong winter structure. Weed and fork gently between them.
*Tulip bulbs can still be planted as they remain dormant well into the winter. There is a tulip for almost every situation -they can be had in almost every colour and shade imaginable, flower at different heights and in different shapes and some are late and some early.
*Cut Chrysanthemums back to 2-3 inches from the ground when they have finished flowering.
*Hellebores, despite their common name of Christmas rose, are very rarely out in time for the big day. They can be encouraged to flower earlier by either using a cloche (which also helps prevent the flowers getting muddy) or they can be potted up and brought in to the greenhouse.
*Deciduous or annual grasses such as Pennisetum rubrum can be tidied up by cutting back if they look tatty. Other perennial grasses should have their flowering stems left as they add movement and sound to the winter garden and should be removed only when they start breaking up. Evergreen grasses should be left until the spring when they can either be cut back (avoiding the new growth) or combed through to remove the older leaves.
TREES SHRUBS AND HEDGES:
*Roses can be given a light trim now if it hasn’t already been done (cut back by a third). Roses can still be planted now but remember that they are available for planting all year. Our range of fresh new roses arrives in January.
*Areas of the border, that are currently empty, can be dug over and enriched with blended manure ready for next year’s plantings.
*Remember to protect half-hardy plants now the cold weather has started. You only need to fleece the tops of plants when the weather goes below freezing and stays that way. Plants in containers and pots feel the cold much more than plants in the ground – wrap the pots in bubble wrap now and leave it on all winter but leave a flap at the top for watering, evergreens in particular can dry out a lot over the winter.
*There are a surprising number of plants that perform over the winter period, often well scented – examples would be Sarcococca (Christmas Box), Hellebores (including the Christmas Rose), Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) and Mahonia.
*If you are having a bonfire make sure that there are no hedgehogs trying to hibernate in the base of it – especially if it has been built for a long time- and that there is no potentially flammable debris close to it.
*Leaves can be used as a mulch to protect sensitive plants from the cold – they‘re free and they will rot down and improve the soil.