Flowers

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Fruit and veg

  • Place straw around the base of parsnips to prevent the soil freezing, which can make harvesting difficult
  • Plant thornless blackberries, such as 'Loch Ness', for easy pickings of large, sweet, juicy fruits
  • Winter prune large fruit trees to control their shape and size, and to increase their productivity
  • Plant fruit trees trained as cordons, fans or espaliers to make good use of limited space
  • Start to plan next year's crops and order seeds
  • Tidy up raspberry and blackberry beds – weed and mulch with compost, then tie new stems to support wires
  • Lift and divide large clumps of rhubarb, replanting the outer sections into soil enriched with well-rotted manure
  • Keep kale, winter cabbages and other brassicas covered with netting to protect them from hungry pigeons
  • Finish clearing old crops and debris from the veg plot, but only compost healthy material 
  • Remove yellowed leaves on brassicas, so fungal diseases such as grey mould and downy mildew don't take hold
  • Make sure Brussels sprouts don't topple over in strong winds - tie to a cane for support and earth up the stems
  • Prune grapevines, cutting back side-branches to one or two buds from the main stem

On the forum: which fruit and veg varieties are you growing?

Greenhouse

  • Pot up a clump of rhubarb and place under a large bin to force an early crop of sweet stems
  • Pick faded leaves and dead flowers regularly from plants overwintering in the greenhouse, such as pelargoniums
  • Pinch out the tips of autumn-sown sweet peas to encourage bushier growth
  • Deadhead indoor azaleas, water regularly and provide cool conditions, away from radiators, to prolong flowering
  • Monitor greenhouse temperatures with a max-min thermometer to ensure heaters are working efficiently
  • Bring hyacinths growing in the greenhouse into your home to flower, placing in a cool, bright spot 
  • Water plants sparingly to keep the greenhouse as dry as possible, which should reduce outbreaks of disease
  • Prune greenhouse grapevines while dormant
  • Move houseplants onto a sunny windowsill over the winter, to get as much light as possible during the shorter days 
  • Water florists' cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) from below, and deadhead regularly to encourage more blooms
  • Check overwintering plants in the greenhouse for red spider mite and other pests, and treat if necessary
  • Sow cacti seeds into moist, loam-based compost and place in a propagator or on a warm windowsill
  • Plant hippeastrum (amaryllis) bulbs for spectacular flowers in about eight weeks

On the forum: find out more about growing plants indoors

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Garden maintenance

  • Put out fresh water for birds every day during frosty weather
  • Bring all watering equipment indoors, including hoses and sprinklers, so they don't freeze and split 
  • Scoop fallen leaves and debris from ponds, leave on the side so pondlife can escape, then add to the compost bin
  • Stand your Christmas tree in a bucket of water in a sheltered spot outdoors until it's time to bring it indoors
  • Clear out your shed, and organise and clean your tools
  • Work off Christmas excesses by digging over bare areas of ground, incorporating garden compost
  • Check tree ties and stakes are firm enough to stand up to winter storms
  • Prune blackcurrants once dormant, removing about a quarter of the old stems
  • Order well-rotted manure or mushroom compost to dig in over winter or spread over bare soil for worms to take down
  • Order summer-flowering bulbs such as lilies and gladioli

On the forum: join in the discussion, share your wisdom and ask for help

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