Stay ahead of the big freeze and prepare for possible frosts
January is the height of hibernation – the trees are bare, we’re glued to our couches, and garden growth has slowed to a standstill. An apparent lack of plant action is no cause for neglect, however, as there’s plenty you can do to prepare for a flourishing spring season.
1. Protect your plants
Pot your most vulnerable plants and bring them inside or into your shed – gently wrap them in bubble wrap for further insulation. Twine on bigger plants or small trees that stay outside will provide much-needed structure for withstanding harsh winds.
2. Choose your plants wisely
Various plants react differently to colder climates with tulips and daffodils only flowering in the spring, and heather and pansies flowering all year round. Vegetables such as onions, shallots, winter lettuce and asparagus will grow nicely during colder months.
3. Toil that soil
The bleak midwinter can be damaging to your soil and it’s crucial to the health of your plants. Check your soil’s pH levels often, especially if you’re a regular compost user as compost gradually increases soil acidity, but heightened acid levels can be easily corrected by adding agricultural lime. Laying down bark chips or plastic coverings as mulch helps keep your soil warm and moist by acting as an insulator and also limits weed growth.
4. All clear
As the leaves and debris fall around your precious plants, give the space a regular tidying, but don’t chuck the chaff – leaf matter is perfect compost for when spring rolls around. A compost bin is ideal but even an open heap will compost eventually, so long as it’s in a shady part of the garden. Be sure to turn your compost regularly to let air in.
5. Birds and bees
Take care of the mini eco-system that is your garden by leaving out feeders and baths for birds, and removing ice from ponds and water features so they can be used as water supplies. Check for hibernating animals before any bonfire or fireworks session.
Image: Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay