As the garden is in the dormant phase during the beginning of the year in January and February, it would be a good time to prepare the earth for the growing season. This is obviously aimed at us lovely people, who live in the Northern Hemisphere of this planet we call earth.
1. Clear last season’s plants
This is the time of the year to pull out all the old plants from last year.
Cut back perennials and remove all the dead seasonal plants. Take all the dead plant matter and add it to your compost heap, this stuff is gold dust so make sure you mulch it down to get the energy and natural fertilizers back into your earth.
Once you have cleared the earth, make sure you don’t turn it over too much. More and more evidence show that turning the soil depletes the nutrients within the top soil. However, you can get a fleece barrier to cover the bare earth which will stop weeds germinating and cats from doing their business in your beds.
2. Fertilize your borders
Don’t waste your money on expensive composts and fertilizers for your borders. Get some good old horse manure and spread a thick covering over the borders of your garden – Nature will do the rest!
A combination of earth worms and rain fall will mix the manure into your top soil, giving you an enriched soil to plant new flowers into.
3. Cut back and Prune
Prune your hardy evergreen hedges and have a go at any deciduas hedges that have become overgrown through the last growing season. For instance, Wisteria should be pruned in the dead of winter to give the climber a change to invigorate new growth for the summer.
You can also prune back and winter flowering shrubs that have finished flowering, such as kimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ or Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’.
4. Clear paths and drives
As long as you have some clear weather in the winter it’s a good chance to work up a sweat with a stiff garden brush sweeping paths and driveways. This will give you a chance to see if there is much frost damage to your path ways and what needs to be repaired in the spring.
By keeping paths and drives clear of any plant debris, you can protect your surfaces from the worst frosts. However, don’t be tempted to make repairs before the threat of frost has completely gone.
5. Plant seeds
You can start to plant seeds indoors for the beginning of spring; this is also a way to avoid your seedlings being munched up by slugs and snails. To protect your seedlings further, you can plant the out in heavy planters with beer traps to stop slugs and snails when they become active in early spring. By keeping your seed trays indoors you can spend your outdoor time clearing and raking your beds for the glory that is spring!
The one piece of advice that has stood the test of time is: ‘Gardening is all about preparation’. Winter might be cold and dull at times, but if you put in the hard work now it can pay dividends in the summer, leaving you time to kick back and soak up some sun with a long cool glass of Pimm’s!