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Start your winter tasks

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > In the Garden

Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Monday, 19th December 2022, 09:00

Another year is starting and who knows what the weather will bring to us! This is part of the fun of gardening – you have to roll with the punches and not get too het up about heatwaves in February or hailstorms in June.

Global warming is affecting all our weather and although we may not have the Mediterranean climate some were promising us, we have more extremes of everything! So make the most of dry, sunny winter days and start getting the new year gardening tasks done.

Grapevines, including ornamental varities such as Vitis coignetiae, need pruning now. If left too late they will bleed from the cuts, as their sap is rising ready for the spring burst of growth. Prune back last year’s stems to one or two buds to keep it in check.

Garlic is easy to grow

Garlic is an easy crop to grow, but it does best when it has endured some winter cold. If your soil is very heavy you could sow the individual cloves in small pots of soil-based potting compost and leave in a sheltered place outside ready for planting out in the springtime. Otherwise, plant them in a sunny spot (pointy end up) with about 2cm of soil covering the end.

Some people find that birds will pull them out thinking they are something tasty, but if that is the case place some scrunched up chicken wire over them. Fresh home-grown garlic is lovely to use, as what we buy in the supermarkets is often a bit dry.

Clean paths and patios

On a mild day, clean your paths or patio if they are slippery with moss and algae. Scrub with a stiff brush and some proprietary paving cleaner. Wooden decking can be such a slippery hazard – it works well in North America where they have drier winters. The new-style composite decking seems to be much better suited to our climate and looks good for much longer. It still needs a good brush, but at least it is less of an ice skating rink!

No-dig gardening is becoming more popular

Old gardening books will tell you that now is the time to dig over the vegetable patch, but I suggest looking at some of Charles Dowding’s YouTube videos. He is an advocate of no-dig gardening, and he has been doing it for years with very good results.
Digging messes up the structure of the soil in many cases, whereas covering weeds with cardboard and adding more compost to plant directly into creates a much better ecosystem. This works even on grassland and is so much easier than back-breaking digging and removal of grasses. Anything for an easier life!

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