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General tasks and garden maintenance

Wet, brown, fallen plants are not attractive and need cutting back and popping on the compost heap. Cut down herbaceous stems and clear the untidy remains of annuals, but do leave a little cover of the perennials that fade relatively elegantly (sedum, astilbes and grasses for example).

These will provide winter interest as well as some much needed wildlife shelter - ladybirds especially appreciate a winter shelter and will repay your hospitality by eating all the aphids in large amounts next year. Leaving sodden debris and fallen leaves around plants will only encourage pests and disease.

Clean out the greenhouse

Tidy up the greenhouse, wash pots and trays, clean, mend and oil your tools and throw away anything that is beyond hope or reasonable repair! Cleaning your greenhouse thoroughly will prevent pests from hibernating and springing into action next spring. Wash the windows inside and out to allow maximum light in over the winter. Scrub benches, fixtures and glazing bars with disinfectant, making sure you hose the whole place down really well, especially dark and dusty corners.

 Drain and lag

Save yourself a lot of aggravation and expense by draining and lagging standpipes, outdoor taps, irrigation lines and water pumps in advance of hard frosts.

 Prepare your soil for next year

For beds that lie bare in winter, carry on with the winter digging until the soil is too hard - use compost, manure, leaf mould - in fact as much organic matter as you can lay your hands on to replace the nutrients in it and improve the soil.

It can be left in a pretty rough state over the winter when the elements will break the clods down, making spring planting infinitely easier!

For text book soil improvement, you should add a layer of organic matter and dig it in by turning over spadefuls so it is buried below the surface. If this seems too much like hard work, just mulch the bed and leave the rest to the worms! If your soil is thin or heavy clay, just fork it over now; too much digging on the former will bring up infertile matter from below whilst great chunks of wet clay will remain rock solid over the winter and become nigh on impossible to break up next year.

Planting

Plant bare-rooted trees, shrubs, hedging and roses as well as fruit trees and bushes. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for an hour first and protect against frost and wind if exposed.

 Rake fallen leaves

Fallen leaves prevent light and air getting into plants and lawns and these dark, damp conditions are ideal for slugs, snails and an unwanted array of fungal diseases. However, don't waste these fallen leaves. Given time they will decompose into fabulously rich leaf mould. Rake them up and throw them onto your compost heap and regularly turn over and mix in with the rest of the newer compost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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