This is perhaps the time when the seasons and the wheeling of the year feels strongest because, despite the gloom and cold, plants just can’t help themselves. They know the earth is turning, that their moment is coming, and so up they come.
Gardeners see spring coming first. In terms of gardening tasks, we are still in the winter lull, so now is the time to tinker, prune, clean and stack pots and improve soil.
As we have been besieged by storms and heavy rain many gardens are waterlogged. Storms Ciara and Dennis have made their mark! Yet despite this, gardens are springing back to life and there are jobs to be done outside.
Damage caused by the recent storms –Shrubs loosened by the wind need cutting back or firming in. Cut back shrub, hybrid T and floribunda Roses if not tackled already by 50 %. Stake and tie trees and shrubs loosened or fallen, cut back damaged branches, torn branches need cutting back below the break to help them back into health. Climbers pulled away from trellis, walls and fences tie back in or cut back if badly damaged. Check all tree ties and wires holding up plants to structures that they are not too tight.
Try to keep off the lawned areas of the garden as much as possible, although this is difficult with fences down and repair work to do, it will benefit long-term.
Machinery – perfect time to book in your mower, strimmer, hedge cutter, blower for servicing. You could get a winter discount for most machinery servicing; maybe worth haggling!
Tools in the Shed – Rub down spades, forks, hoes etc with a wire brush, remove all the caked-on soil/rust off the metal. Oil them, even using old engine oil on a rag and wipe over the metal. Also, check the tool handles for wood-worm, small pin like holes and treat with wood preservative/wood-worm killer.
Other indoor jobs – Re-use plant labels by cleaning them, a scouring pad seems to work well, cleaning fluid, a rubber erasure for pencils. Wash old seed trays and pots with hot soapy water or a pressure washer. Check any indoor plants for bugs and beasties lurking and treat. Check stored vegetables, fruit, bulbs and tubers.
Shopping – Most seed catalogues are available on-line or by phone request now, so check out the latest stock for the coming season. Now is the time to shop at Garden Centres and Nurseries; seed potatoes, shallots, onions, garlic are also arriving in stock now, and many of them will have sales on. If you do buy any plants in pots, don’t plant now, leave them outside in a sheltered corner all together and plant out in March/April time. Summer bulbs, corms and tubers will also be arriving like Dahlias and Gladiolis.
Outdoors – Clear gutters and drains of leaves, and also check sheds, greenhouses and garages for any leaks.
Planning for the season to come – You may want to create some raised beds for vegetables and flowers, work out which vegetables did well last year, consider trying something new.
Nest boxes – Wearing gloves empty out the old nests from last year. Birds are actively looking for a nesting site now, when putting up a nest box put it where cats can’t reach, and not facing south as it cooks in the sun, not too close to a feeding station and out of the prevailing winds.
Bird Feeders and Bird Baths – Most at this time of year are pretty foul after all this rain, clean out and throw away all wet food.