16th November 2018
Winter can be a problematic time of the year for most gardeners. With some planning and preparation your garden can be well maintained throughout the winter months. We’ve put together some tips on how to prepare your garden for winter and our pick of the 8 best vegetables to grow during the season.
As the nights start to draw in, it’s important to make the most of the available light by tidying-up your garden and making any necessary repairs, so your garden is ready to take on the winter months. Make sure you do a full sweep of the garden such as:
Start by removing any leaves, weeds or dead foliage from your borders and flower beds. Cut back the herbaceous perennials close to the ground (around 5 cm above ground level) so they can start to die down and make sure you also remove annuals that have finished their show, to help ensure a vibrant display next spring. Although try to be selective as not only are they good for insects, they can look lovely when covered in autumn dew.
Wallflowers, bellis daisies and pansies are great to plant at this time of year. Once you have finished tidying your borders, finish with a thick layer of compost, bark chips or rotten manure. No need to dig this into the border as the worms will take care of that for you.
It’s important to protect any shrubs growing in pots or containers from the winter frost. A great tip is wrap the pots in bubble wrap, as well as protecting the roots this will also help reduce the risk of the pots cracking.
Winter is the perfect time of the year to get out of the cold and cosy up by the fire with the family. Unfortunately our wildlife don’t have that luxury, therefore we need to give them a helping hand where we can.
Make sure you leave out bird feeders and water baths – be sure to break any ice so they can drink the water if the temperature hits freezing. If you are planning any garden clear-outs or fires make sure you check nesting animals such as hedgehogs that may be hibernating. Creating a bug hotel is also a great idea as insects are very important for a healthy garden ecosystem.
If you have a pond it’s wise to spread a fine meshed net across the pond and simply secure in place with some bricks. This helps prevent decomposing leaves blocking any filters or pumps and therefore stopping the pond from going foul to keep the water clean for fish. However when doing this it is important to consider wildlife that may still need access to the pond.
November is a great time to prune your roses by cutting back the stems by a third, to help prevent rocking from strong winter winds. During January and February they should then be winter pruned by cutting back the plant to around half ensuring an even rounded shape. Make sure you also remove any damaged, diseased or dead stems.
It would be fair to say the UK summer of 2018 will be one to remember, but the hot dry weather combined with our lawn games and paddling pools can leave our grassy areas in a state of disrepair. Giving your lawn some TLC before winter kicks in is a great way to ensure a healthier lawn for the following spring.
The best way to protect your lawn is to fertilise, this will help provide nutrients and promote growth. Start by raking the grass to help reduce the thatch build-up, before aerating with a garden fork, this creates improved water and air flow to the root structure of your lawn. Finish with a dressing of rotted compost, sand and loam.
An outside tap is an important resource for any keen gardener, there is nothing worse in the winter months when you go to get some water and the tap is frozen. For the best results the ideal solution if possible is to isolate the tap via the stop tap and fully drain – this will prevent burst pipes and damage during harsh frosts. If this isn’t possible a simple solution is to protect with an insulated tap cover.
Asparagus: There are asparagus varieties available for autumn planting, but you will have to wait two years until you can cut them!
Broad beans: the best autumn varieties to sow are Aquadulce Claudia (AGM) and Super Aquadulce.
Garlic: Garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow during autumn.
Spinach: Riccio d'Asti and Merlo Nero are the best varieties to sow, but ideally they need to be sown by the end of October.
Sugarsnap peas: not one you would often associate with sowing in autumn but the Snow Pea Gigante Svizzero variety are great to plant this time of year.
Spring cabbage: spring cabbage is a good option but make sure you cover during icier conditions.
Onions: there are a few varieties of onions to choose from to sow this time of year.
Winter lettuce: Meraviglia d'Inverno San Martino is a great variety for time of year if planted under a fleece.