GET YOUR GARDEN IN SHAPE THIS JANUARY
  • Spread a layer of compost over borders, around shrubs and along the base of hedges as a mulch.
  • Thin out the top growth on standard roses to prevent damage and wind rock.
  • Use cloches to warm the soil in preparation for early sowings.
  • Plant fruit bushes and trees.
  • Give fruit trees a winter wash with Armillatox to kill overwintering greenfly.
  • Apply potash to strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and red currants.
  • Remove dead leaves & flowers from stored geraniums and fuchsias to prevent disease.
  • Remember to open the windows in your greenhouse on warm days to give ventilation.
  • Prepare a trench 24” wide and a spades depth for runner beans and add a bag of manure for a bumper crop.
  • Force rhubarb by digging up a crown and replanting it in total darkness or placing a large bin over the existing crop.
  • Plant roses in well-prepared ground.
  • Trim away unwanted suckers from tree bases.
  • Clear borders and rake up leaves.
  • Spread a thick layer of mulch around fruit trees and bushes.
  • Prune blackcurrants.
  • Bring potted peaches under cover to prevent an attack of leaf curl.

Getting your garden into shape

Winter pruning check-list
Fruit; cut out the oldest and weakest branches of blackcurrants, removing about one shoot, in three. For gooseberries, cut out the oldest weakest shoots and reduce new growth from the main branches by half. Side shoots to just two buds from the old wood. Now is the time to cut autumn fruiting raspberries down to the ground. With apple and pear trees cut out any branches that are diseased, dead or damaged. Also any that cross or rub, or that are spindly and badly placed. For pears and most apples which bear their fruit on spurs, shorten the new growth on each branch by about a third. Also, prune side shoots to five or six buds and thin out overcrowded spurs. With pleached trees or tunnels the work of tying in new shoots continues all year round, but the dormant season is the time for structural pruning and shaping.

While winter pruning is best avoided with stone fruit such as peaches, plums, and cherries, fine-tuning the arrangement of branches if grown on a wall is a lot easier before they come into leaf. For the more adventurous among us that grow kiwi fruit, you can now cut back the plant to three or four buds beyond the last fruited stems. I would recommend though leaving figs alone till all risk of frost is safely past. Late flowering shrubs; to stop plants such as Buddleja, Spiraea, Lavatera (marshmallow plant) and hardy fuchsias becoming leggy, chop back last year’s growth to within two or three buds of the old wood.  With Clematis, the rule of thumb is “flowers before June do not prune” however the large flowered hybrids such as ‘Jackmanii’ and small flowered Viticella, Texensis and Orientalis groups, cut back to first or second pair of buds from the bottom of each stem. When doing all this important to have a sharp secateurs as a squashed cut leads to disease. A clean cut just above a bud at an angle is always best. With apple trees and roses prune to an outward facing bud.

January