By Hannah Towers
Winter is a dormant season for many plants, although it’s not a dormant season for us gardeners.
There are many jobs during the colder months we can do to prepare our garden for the next year. It’s the time for us to insulate greenhouses, prune fruit trees and even plant garlic.
As the weather cools down in November, it’s time to prepare our greenhouses and polytunnels for the upcoming frosts to protect the plants inside. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Use bubble wrap to line the inside of your structure, using little clips to secure.
Stake any Brussels sprouts plants to protect against the elements. Strong wind can otherwise damage plants. You’ll then be able to harvest the sprouts closer to Christmas. Staking can also be done with kale.
The weather, when it reaches December, will most likely be very cold. You can distract yourself from this cold by preparing for harvesting fruit next year. It’s time to plant fruit trees and bushes. For me, it will be time to plant raspberries. Raspberry canes should be planted in a sunny area, 40cm apart in rows.
For those of you who already have apples trees, it is time to prune. The first step is to remove any branches that are obviously dead, diseased and damaged. Then for healthy branches on ‘bush’ trained trees with an open centre, shorten main stems and side shoots. Follow a guide if you are unsure. Make sure you don’t overprune as this can cause many problems, such as no fruit.
For garlic lovers who haven’t yet planted their cloves, now is the time. Plant the separate cloves 2.5cm deep in rows 10cm apart. If your soil is sandier, plant them a little deeper.
If you have established rhubarb growing, you can now start to ‘force’ it to produce delicate tasting stems. To do this, first clear the base of the rhubarb. Remove any dead leaves or weeds. Then use a large pot or dustbin to cover the rhubarb to exclude any light. This will force the rhubarb to start growing early.
Hannah is a student from Rugby High School volunteering with Garden Organic at Ryton Gardens. She’s particularly interested in biology and has a keen gardening family.
Read more about gardening through the coldest months