It may be cold out and heading out the garden or down the allotment on a cold frosty morning will no doubt be the last thing on many of our minds. However, if you can brave the chill and keep to make the most of the winter sun here are some jobs you can undertake on the allotment:
Mulching during winter is crucial for protecting plant roots from extreme temperatures. A thick layer of mulch acts as an insulator, keeping the soil warmer and reducing the impact of freeze-thaw cycles. Organic materials like straw, leaves, or wood chips are ideal choices.
They not only shield the roots from cold but also contribute to soil health as they decompose. Remember, the key is to apply mulch after the ground has started to freeze but before the coldest weather sets in.
If you are an on allotment site and have access to woodchips dig deeper into the pile and use the older wood chips as mulch, its already started to break down and make a great mulch! You can also fill up potato buckets with this rotted wood chip ready for potatoes in the spring!
Winter is the ideal time for pruning many types of dormant trees and shrubs. Without foliage, it's easier to see the structure of the plant and identify which branches need removal. Pruning in winter can invigorate plants for spring growth, as well as eliminate diseased or damaged wood that can be detrimental to the plant's overall health. However, it's important to research specific pruning needs for each plant, as some may prefer pruning at different times of the year.
When pruning fruit trees it's easy to scar or damage the tree. Any unwanted saw marks and even the limbs you just pruned back melt some wax and paste this over the cuts it will help protect the tree, allow it to heal and stop any infection. Beeswax is best but normal unscented candle wax will be fine, however, you can also purchase prune sealer!
Utilizing cold frames and greenhouses can vastly extend your growing season. These structures provide a controlled environment, shielding plants from harsh weather while capturing sunlight and warmth. You can start growing seedlings earlier than usual or even grow cold-tolerant vegetables throughout the winter. Cold frames, which are relatively simple to construct and maintain, can be an excellent starting point for gardeners new to year-round gardening.
If you can't wait for spring. When its cold and ground frost is present sowing leeks, spring onions and onions now under cover will be fine!
Although plants need less water during the winter, they still require some moisture to survive. The key is to water them only when necessary and to do so during the warmest part of the day to prevent freezing. Be particularly attentive to container plants, as their soil tends to dry out faster than ground soil. However, avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot, especially in colder temperatures where the soil drainage is slower.
It's not uncommon for ice to form over water buckets making dunking the watering can a very cold and wet task! Once you fill the watering cans, keep them filled inside the greenhouse or under cover. This will prevent them from freezing and the water will not be as cold when using on plants and seedlings. No one likes a cold shower!!
Protecting plants from winter's harsh conditions is vital. Delicate plants, especially evergreens and those with tender stems, can suffer from frost and wind burn. Wrapping them in burlap or using specially designed plant covers can provide the necessary protection.
Our garden fleece is perfect for this! It's not cheap tissue paper, its fleece we actually use here at Growseed
For smaller plants and shrubs, a layer of snow can actually act as an insulating blanket, but for others, additional measures like windbreaks or frost cloths may be necessary.
Using garden fleece is not just for plants but also for soil and seedlings. February is often cold and wet in the UK but it's also the perfect time to start sowing Parsnips directly in the ground. Get a layer of fleece over the ground where you want to grow your parsnips, ideally, place it in late Autumn to help keep ground frost at bay.Pull the fleece back in Febuary and sow your seeds just remember to place the fleece back over the seedlings, it keeps them warm and protects them from frost.
Winter is an excellent time for garden planning. It's a quieter season that allows you to reflect on what worked and what didn’t in your garden the previous year. Research new plants and garden designs, order seeds, and sketch out your garden layout. This planning can be incredibly satisfying and ensures you’re ready to hit the ground running when spring arrives.