Page 51 - West Dorset Living Dec:Jan 2019
P. 51

  Getting ready for winter
Here are some useful tips for your garden as the cold weather is just around the corner
Clear up as much as you can in November, as it will be colder soon. Although it is hard work now, you will see the benefit in the spring.
Clean leaves off the lawns. Keep the leaves to make leaf mould. Lawns still need cutting even though the ground is probably wet underfoot. Leave it as late as possible in
the day to ensure that the early morning dew has dried off - this will allow a far better cut. If you have a rotary mower, see if you can get the blade sharpened before you undertake the final cut.
For those of you moving some of those larger houseplants back inside the house (the ones which have spent the summer outside), give the leaves a wipe over with Bio leaf-shine or similar. Also spray while outside using a systemic insecticide to protect against mealy bug, or red spider mite. These pests thrive in centrally heated homes where the atmosphere can sometimes become very dry, especially in homes with UPVC windows and doors.
Start by clearing the annuals and bedding plants, they will be looking shabby already. This will give you a good chance to prepare the ground for new plants. It isn’t too late to plant up your spring bulbs. Plant daffodils now as they need a little more time to establish before the winter is upon us. Tulips are the exception to the rule. Planting as late as early winter (although late autumn is better) will not adversely affect their spring flowering.
Trees and Shrubs
Leave most pruning until spring. Prune plants most affected by heavy winter winds now. Cut back shrubs such as Buddleia, Hibiscus and Lavatera. This will much reduce the risk of wind damage. But beware, do not cut back your spring- flowering shrubs, otherwise you will lose next year’s flowers.
Protect special shrubs with sacking.
It is worth collecting and saving seeds for planting next year if you want to. Don’t bother with the highly bred varieties, the outcome is usually disappointing. Seeds from foxgloves, sunflowers, poppies and teasels give good results.
Start to dig over as much as possible when the weather allows incorporating compost or farmyard manure into the ground. This feeds and improves the structure of the soil. Adding lime at the rate of about a handful per sq.m. will help keep club root at bay
or attacks to a minimum. If you think your ground contains club root (attacks brassica family, cabbages, sprouts etc.) try rotating crops. Do not to put farmyard manure on
ground where you intend to grow root crops - it causes them to split.
Don’t forget the wildlife.
Leave undisturbed wild areas in your garden - piles of leaves or brushwood can make the perfect nest in which animals can hide, rest and hibernate.
If your garden pond freezes over, ensure you make a hole in the ice.
Do make sure you have plenty of food out for the birds.
Birds may find it difficult to find natural foods such as berries, insects, seeds, worms and fruit during this cold season. Provide a range of seeds, fresh unsalted peanuts and table scraps (cheese and fruits such as apples and pears.) Garden birds also love dried mealworms or waxworms, which can be bought from bird food suppliers.
Also provide fresh water. Clean water and food will encourage visiting hedgehogs
to return regularly to your garden. Minced meat, fresh liver, tinned dog food (not fish based), or even scrambled eggs appeal to these prickly creatures. 51

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