Believe it or not there is plenty that can be done in and around your garden in the winter months. 

This will help you in the coming months and give you more time to enjoy the garden in the summer.

Lawns
If the weather is mild, you can lay a new turf or repair hollows and bumps in an existing lawn. Repair lawn edges, especially around flower and shrub beds. Remember not to walk on frosty grass as this will burn or scorch the grass and the grass will appear to be black and have brown footprints after a while. Keep brushing away worm casts, as they can be troublesome at this time of year.

Flowers
Sow seeds such as Begonia, Lobelia, Salvia and Pelargonium in a heated greenhouse or propagator to provide early plants. Sweet peas can also be sown this month (a garden favourite).

General Maintenance
Rake up any winter debris and leaves off your borders to keep them tidy. Clear up any weedy beds ready for mulching in the spring. Start cutting back any grasses, and any other perennials that have been left over the winter.

Greenhouse
Clean your greenhouse ready for the coming season as well as any pots or trays you have. Cleaning greatly improves the growing environment for plants. By removing the algae, moss and grime it lets in more light and helps control pests and diseases too.

Fruit Trees
Start pruning fruit trees such as apple and pear trees. Tender fruit trees like plum, and cherry are best left to spring as there more vulnerable to disease.

Plan for the Year Ahead
Growing your own produce is very satisfying and rewarding, but it is always good to plan for the year ahead considering what you did the previous year for the likes of crop rotation.

The benefits of crop rotation

Soil fertility: Different crops have different nutrient requirements. Changing crops annually reduces the chance of particular soil deficiencies developing as the balance of nutrients removed from the soil tends to even out over time.

Weed control: Some crops, like potatoes and squashes with dense foliage or large leaves, suppress weeds, thus reducing maintenance and weed problems in following crops.

Pest and disease control: Soil pests and diseases tend to attack specific plant families repeatedly. By rotating crops between areas, the pests tend to decline in the period when their host plants are absent which helps reduce build-up of damaging populations of spores, eggs and pests. Common diseases that can be helped / avoided by rotation include clubroot in brassicas and onion white rot.

Happy gardening from the Estates Team at Rockliffe Hall.

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