Snow and ice in the garden

by Pippa Greenwood

Yesterday at a Gardeners' Question Time recording it was amazing to hear that Eric's Cumbrian plot had only had 5cm of snow. Not so here in Hampshire.

Brushing snow from a garden pathYesterday at a Gardeners' Question Time recording it was amazing to hear that Eric's Cumbrian plot had only had 5cm of snow. Not so here in Hampshire. The snow is 45-60cm deep and the icicles more than 1m long!

What have I been up to during the snowy weather? Well, For the first time in many years, I've heeded the advice to 'knock snow off branches of favourite trees and shrubs'. It's well worth doing this, especially if the snow is piled on and starting to thaw, because when partially melted snow refreezes, another layer can settle on top.

I've also tried to ensure that the wild birds have a plentiful supply of food and unfrozen water.

My garlic is a worry, especially those cloves that were planted only a few weeks before the snow arrived. Some have been pushed out of the soil by the freeze, and are probably done for. Luckily most rows were covered with fleece or net-covered cloches, which are now bowed down with snow. I won't knock the snow off as it's acting like an insulating blanket, and also reducing the wind-chill factor.

The soil is completely inaccessible, so I'll venture into the greenhouse to start some early veg sowing. If you're planning to do that yourself, remember to bring compost and some water into a warm spot first, to thaw and warm. Otherwise you'll have a rigid lump of compost, no use for anything!

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Gardeners' World Web User 15/01/2010 at 02:40

A useful tip for anyone who has a pond frozen over. My pond had frozen over to about 5 inches thick and pouring hot water onto the ice was not very successful as it would splash everywhere. One day I was trying to think of ways to confine the hot water into one area, I had to go into the garage and the solution to my problem was in there looking at me. It was my Long Handled Bulb Planter. I brushed the snow off the area of the pond where I wanted the hole, put the bulb planter in place my wife came out with 2 kettles of hot water poured them into the middle of the bulb cutter tube a little bit of pressure and hey presto Job Done perfect hole through the ice. I hope that you find that this tip is useful. I would also like to point out that this job should be done with care when using hot water and only use a Long Handled Bulb Planter.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/01/2010 at 20:33

The hyacinths planted in October and placed in a closed cardboard box in the greenhouse are now in bud and ready to come into the light. then on to the windowsills. Spring really is coming!?

Gardeners' World Web User 16/01/2010 at 07:06

thank goodness the worst of the snow is on the waine, I have been snowed in, as I live on a very steep hill and the only way out is up, so impassable. but I have had loads of birds come to my garden for's a treat to see them hopping around,and looking pretty bins emptied for 6 weeks and no grit for the roads unable to go out, I've helped to save the planet.

Gardeners' World Web User 16/01/2010 at 16:01

I am afraid I have lost my Lisianthus seeds as well I thought they would be alright in a heated propagator in a 2 shelf greenhouse? but the soil froze, I then put them in a bedroom near a radiator,and have kept them lightly watered and misted them every day. I think I have 3 tiny seedlings out of 45 if they survive, what do you think of my chances?

Gardeners' World Web User 16/01/2010 at 18:49

I grew lisianthus last summer from some plug plants I bought from Suttons. I did everything correctly and the plants grew reasonably well but once I had planted them out after the frosts had finished I found them a great disappointment - several of them were eaten by pigeons, some didn't grow very much more and the few that did flower didn't actually do so until the autumn. All in all a great disappointment so I won't be growing them again.

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