Alice, Bulbs, Gardening, Gardening Year, Gardens, Greenhouses, Grow Your Own, Plants

When the weather turns colder, the last thing you want to do is get outside in the garden. Flowers bloom and vegetables are ready to be planted and harvested during spring and summer, while winter tends to be the quieter season. However, while your plants are dormant, there’s plenty you can be doing this season to prepare your garden. Laying in the groundwork now can ensure a blooming spring, and help you beat the winter blues.

preparing your garden for spring in winter

Clear the soil

As many plants will now be dormant or have finished their life cycle for the year, now is a great time to clear the soil ready for planting new crops next year. Remove leaves and other debris from flower beds, borders, and your vegetable plot to get back to the bare soil; these can be placed in your compost heap if you have one. You can also remove any weeds or large stones ready for new growth.

Position dormant plants

Take the opportunity to get your shrubs and fruit trees all set for spring now they are in their dormant phase. Now is the perfect time to move any plants you would like to reposition as they are much easier to transport without their foliage. Dig a trench around the plant and try to take out as much of the roots as possible before planting it in its new position at the same level it was previously in the soil. It is also the season to plant any new trees and shrubs in their bare root form; at Primrose we have a great selection of bare root fruit trees, roses, and more. Make sure to prune any dormant plants now to promote growth, develop a good shape, and encourage flowers and fruit.

Prepare the soil

Get ahead with your spring planting and get your soil prepared now. Dig in a layer of organic matter such as compost, well-rotted manure, or recycled green waste so it has time to permeate into the soil so by the time spring comes, it will be ripe for planting.

Clean and stock your greenhouse

Now is the perfect time to give your greenhouse a good clean ready for planting seedlings next season. Sweep out any debris from the floor and benches and wash them with a garden disinfectant. Wash the inner and outer walls with a disinfectant or detergent to remove algae, moss, dirt, and grime, and wash out your pots and seed trays to help prevent disease. Now is also a good time to inspect your greenhouse for any damage, replace any broken parts, and stock up on greenhouse accessories. At Primrose, we have a great range of greenhouse accessories including staging, potting tables, ventilation, heaters, and more.

what to do to prepare your garden for spring in winter

Organise your garden shed

On a dry day that’s not too frosty, take the time to sort through your garden shed. Clear it out and recycle anything you no longer need, check security, and organise and clean your tools ready for spring. It’s also a good time to order any new tools, or put them on your wishlist in the run-up to Christmas! At Primrose, we offer a fantastic collection of gardening tools for a range of purposes.

Remove garden pests

Removing hibernating garden pests now will save you a lot of trouble when spring and summer comes. Inspect the crowns of your perennial plants and remove any sheltering slugs, snails, or aphids. Clear last year’s pots of summer bedding and remove any white vine weevil you find.

Plant spring bulbs

Spring-flowering bulbs need to be planted during autumn and winter in order to bloom come spring.  Take the time to plant bulbs such as crocuses, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, bluebells, and fritillaries before the frost sets in for a glorious display of colour next season. Our collection of flower bulbs and tubers have a wide selection of flora to bring your garden to life.

Install a water butt

Make the most of the winter rainfall by installing a water butt in your garden. Rainwater is the best type of water for your plants, and harvesting rainwater rather than using the mains supply is also great for the environment. Position your water butt underneath a downpipe from your home or shed, or obtain a diverter kit if you have a closed drainpipe.

Plan next year’s plants

As the gardening year comes to a close, now is a great time to reflect on your garden’s performance this year- what worked well, and what didn’t- and start thinking about what you would like to grow next year. At Primrose, we stock a fantastic collection of Mr Fothergill’s seeds, which include high-quality flower, vegetable, and herb seeds to make your garden flourish.

What have you been doing in your garden this season? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

 

 

Alice, Gardening Year

An exciting start to a new season, December is all about the run-up to Christmas and the possibility of snow this winter! Although braving the outdoors could be the last thing on your mind this month, getting outside in your garden could be exactly what you need to beat the winter blues. Gardening connects us with nature and gives us a sense of responsibility, which is great for boosting your mental health. Many plants will be dormant this month, so the key themes are protecting your garden from the colder weather, preparing for spring next year and taking the time to clear up and organise. Read on for the main December gardening jobs.

december gardening jobs

General

  • Protect ponds and outdoor taps from freezing- try floating balls or plastic bottles in the water to prevent freezing, or (unless you have koi karp) switch off your pond’s pump, and make sure outdoor taps are insulated
  • Prepare soil for next year’s crops- dig over empty borders, remove weeds and large stones, and dig in soil amendments such as manure, compost, kept, bone meal, or rock phosphate to get the soil in good condition for spring planting
  • Take care of the lawn- continue to mow the lawn if the frost is not too heavy, but raise the height of the mower blades; spike with a garden fork to improve drainage
  • Continue to clear fallen leaves- fallen leaves could be harbouring slugs and other pests so make sure to clear them from plants, plus the lawn to allow in light and prevent dead patches
  • Organise your garden shed- take the time to clear out your garden shed, check security, and organise and clean your tools ready for spring. At Primrose, we stock an extensive range of garden tools; make sure to add any you need to your Christmas list!

Plants

  • Get pruning– prune fruit trees, dormant shrubs and hedges, roses, and Japanese maples
  • Plant spring bulbs– plant bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, grape hyacinths, and fritillaries before the first frost to fill your garden with glorious colour next spring
  • Take hardwood cuttings– cut healthy shoots from suitable trees, shrubs, and climbers, including honeysuckle, blackcurrant shrubs, and popular trees, and plant in the ground or in a pot to propagate new plants
  • Lift and store dahlia tubers– these tender perennials need protection from the colder weather, so lift the dormant roots and stems to store indoors and plant back outside next spring
  • Cluster container plants together– as their roots are more exposed to the elements, move shrubs and bedding plants growing in containers to sheltered spots and cluster together for protection from the colder weather
  • Propagate oriental poppies– these plants can reproduce from any scrap of root so are perfect for propagation; trim off sections of the roots then plant into a seed tray to grow new plants
  • Check tree ties– check any tree ties to make sure trees are protected from strong winds and the tree stems will not be damaged by ties that are too tight; replace any ties that have frayed or broken
  • Collect Christmas decorations– collect seasonal foliage such as ivy, yew, and fir, along with brightly coloured stems and berries to decorate your home for the festive season

Flowers to sow this month: sweet peas, geraniums, thunbergia, hardy cyclamens, snapdragons

december gardening jobs

Produce

  • Harvest root crops– harvest leeks, winter cabbage, parsnips, sprouts, and any other remaining root crops for a fantastic harvest this Christmas
  • Protect from the frost– now the weather is getting colder and we may be getting frost, it’s important to make sure your plants are protected. Shop our frost protection range for fleeces, cloches, and other equipment to weather-proof your garden
  • Protect winter cabbages– keep an eye out for yellowing leaves and remove them as they appear as they may be harbouring diseases such as grey mould and downy mildew, and cover with netting to protect from pigeons
  • Divide rhubarb clumps– division will provide a plant identical to the parent so it’s a great way of propagation and renewing the vigour of weak or overcrowded plants; divide the crown into sections with a spade and replant
  • Protect fruit trees from moths– apply glue bands or grease bands to the trunks to prevent wingless winter moths from laying their eggs in the tree
  • Clear the vegetable plot– as most vegetables are now dormant, take the opportunity to finish clearing old crops and debris to prepare for spring; you can also use this time to install paths and paving
  • Plan next year’s vegetable garden– now is the time to reflect on what worked this year, and plan what to grow next year. It’s also a great time to order seeds ready for planting in spring; our new range of seeds from Mr Fothergill’s provide a range of high-quality flowers, vegetables, and herbs. You could also purchase one of our Raised Beds for the perfect space to grow them in

Produce to sow this month: onions, garlic, broad beans, gooseberries, currants, blackberries, strawberries, mustard

Greenhouse

  • Clean your greenhouse– if you haven’t already done so, make sure to clean your greenhouse thoroughly; wash and disinfect capillary matting before storing away
  • Water plants sparingly– make sure plants are hydrated but keep the greenhouse as dry as possible to reduce the risk of disease
  • Combat pests– check overwintering plants for pests such as aphids and red spider mite, treat if necessary using a general insecticide
  • Maintain plants– pick faded leaves and dead flowers from plants that are being stored in the greenhouse over the winter
  • Remove snow– make sure to brush any snow off the top of greenhouses and cold frames to make sure the glass does not get damaged

Plants to sow in the greenhouse this month: basil, dill, chives, parsley, winter lettuces

Animals

  • Provide fat-rich food– birds expend a lot of energy in the winter just keeping warm, so make sure to provide fat-rich food such as suet, peanuts, and sunflower hearts to help them stock up. Our Whole Suet-Filled Co-Co Feeder provides the perfect high-energy feast, and you can shop our full Wild Bird Care range to take care of our feathered friends this winter
  • Top up the bird bath– birds need fresh water to drink and bathe in, so make sure to keep your bird bath replenished
  • Avoid turning compost– critters such as hedgehogs may be hibernating in your compost heap, so avoid turning your compost this month, or proceed with caution
  • Provide a bee refuge– bees also hibernate during the winter, so make sure to provide a safe space with one of our bee hotels. Our Seasonal Bee Nesting House is the perfect haven for bees that will help your garden thrive next summer
  • Create a log shelter– make a pile of logs in a corner of your garden to provide shelter for toads and other wildlife

Let us know what’s happening in your garden this month by getting in touch on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

You can download a printable version of this checklist below:

Download Here

Liked this post? Make sure to pin it on Pinterest!

 

december gardening jobs checklist

Animals, Gardening, Guest Posts, How To, Wildlife, Zoe

How To Look After Hedgehogs
As the leaves are changing from green to golden and autumn seems to be surrounding us everywhere we know,
Wildlife from every nook and cranny is searching for somewhere to go.
As frost becomes bitter, and food becomes scarce, animals need a new home.
This guide will help you transform your garden into a safe haven, meaning no animal will be alone.

1 – Food, Glorious Food

Help our furry friends in the winter months by providing some scrummy food,
bacon rind, cheese, peanuts, seeds or fruit,
fatty foods make their tummies nice and full
but give them a mix of food and they will be grateful.

Once you’ve started please don’t forget to provide each day,
or our poor little birdies will waste away!
Keep in mind not all our birds can reach so high,
Leave treats on the ground for Robin’s so they don’t have to fly.

Our spiky friends often need a helping hand,
so leave out some cat food on a saucer if you can,
a bowl of water can will be good for a drink
for all animals looking to have a sip

How To Welcome Wildlife

2 – Hide and seek

These sweet little visitors might act a little shy,
and take cover in piles of leaves nearby,
so try to resist sweeping these up in a hurry,
or you’ll find that your visitors leave in a scurry.

The same can be said for your compost heap,
where frogs and toads like to sleep.
Remember to check your pond where frogs may be snoozing,
don’t let it ice over or you will be losing,
vital oxygen in the water! Melt this slowly and make a hole,
with a pan of hot water left to glow.

Other hiding places that can be used as a bed:
butterflies will use the corner of a shed!
Leave dry plant stems to stand tall,
and insects will begin to crawl,
into this place and not want to leave
until the sun appears on a summer’s eve.

Frogs In Your Garden

3 – Autumn Clean

The last thing you need to do, is get cleaning!
Make sure that your bird feeders are gleaming.
Your pond could do with a clear away at this time of year,
when activity has dropped and it is mostly clear.

Get ahead of the game and make your bird box clean,
so when spring comes birds can nest with ease.
One last tip we would like to share,
don’t cut back your hedges, so birds can live there!

Winter Garden Shed

Zoe at PrimroseZoë works in the Marketing team at Primrose, and is passionate about all things social media.

After travelling across Europe and Asia, Zoë is intrigued by different cultures and learning more about the world around her. If she’s not jet setting, Zoë loves nothing more than curling up with a good book and a large glass of red wine!

She is an amateur gardener but keen to learn more and get stuck in!

See all of Zoë’s posts.

Animals, Bird Baths, Charlie, How To, Water Features, Wildlife

Winter can ruffle a few feathers for birds.
Winter can ruffle a few feathers for birds.

For wild birds in particular, winter can be a harsh time of year. As they are unable to hibernate like many other species, the ones that don’t migrate to warmer climes have to fend for themselves during the cold winter days and nights. As the temperature plummets, the sparsity of food can lead to their fat reserves being depleted, and ice can freeze over bird baths, leaving even water hard to find. For these reasons quite a few birds will disappear from your garden completely during the winter – these include house martins, swallows and varieties of warbler. Conversely, such are the patterns of migrating birds, that some will make an appearance only for winter – coming from colder climates such as Scandinavia. These include waxwings, bramblings and redwings. But whether the species of bird in your garden are winter visitors or year-round residents, there are things you can do to ensure that they survive the cold.

Bird Baths

Winter bird bath.
Note: Do not let this happen to your birdbath!

One thing you can do is set up a bird bath in your garden, if you haven’t already. Primrose has a huge range of bird baths, from simple bowls to elaborate fountains. Bird baths not only provide water for birds, but also give you a chance to see your feathered friends in all their glory, as they provides a natural gathering point for birds. Remember to break any ice and clear away any snow that forms over the birdbath during cold snaps, as this happening will leave birds unable to drink. Alternatively, you could place a small, light float in the water to prevent your bird bath from freezing over completely should the cold strike, or pour warm water over the birdbath. Whatever you do, it is important never to add any chemicals, even something as innocuous as salt could have adverse effects on the birds themselves. However, in both summer and winter it is a good idea to clean out and replace the water in your birdbath regularly to prevent disease.

Feeding Stations

Bird Cakes, as shown in this feeding station, are a great idea for birds in the winter.
Bird Cakes, as shown in this feeding station, are a great idea for birds in the winter.

As well as water, another thing birds need is food – this is especially true during the winter months as there is less natural food is available. This is where a good bird table or feeder can come in handy! It is best to locate them at an altitude, so groundlings cannot steal the bird food, and to keep the birds’ feeding area out of reach of predators. Stock it up with high protein seeds, but more importantly many birds’ fat reserves get depleted during winter so using fat cuttings or lard from the kitchen to create a “bird cake”, by cooking the fat or lard and then mixing it in with the seeds. This will create a fattening snack for birds to peck at, which can then be hung on trees or placed on a feeding station, or perhaps both. It is actually quite important to vary the way in which you distribute the food around the garden, as some birds are more comfortable using a hanging bird feeder, while others much prefer a flat surface upon which to graze. Like with birdbaths, hygiene can be important with your feeding stations too. Make sure that food stayed in the feeder, and clean up any crumbs or droppings that pile up at the bottom, as these can attract pests. Also be sure to clean up uneaten food, as this can create disease.

Shelter and Safety

Shelter from the elements and protection from predators are also important components of bird care in the winter. Having a prickly bush near your birdbaths or bird feeder will give your birds not only shelter from the elements but also somewhere to hide in case of predators, have too many shrubs, however, and this could provide a spot to predators to stalk their prey – for this reason it might be best to place these items out in the open. You might also want to invest in, or perhaps build, a roosting station for your birds to provide an especially safe place for them. To help ward off the birds’ most common predator, you could also invest in a cat scarer, to help keep your bird baths and feeding stations safe and clear from these animals. Or if you own a cat – put a bell on it. Birds will only settle into a routine of feeding at a particular spot once they are sure that spot is safe, so its important to try and keep it clear of predators.

Follow this advice and you’re sure to give our feathered friends a helping hand in making it through to the spring.

CharlieCharlie works in the Primrose marketing team, mainly on online marketing.

When not writing for the Primrose Blog, Charlie likes nothing more than a good book and a cool cider.

To see the rest of Charlie’s posts, click here.