Your midwinter gardening to-do list

It may be a quieter month in the garden but there is still plenty to do to keep the garden tidy and weed-free, ready for the year ahead.

  1. Clean and sharpen your tools such as secateurs to make them safer to use and better for your plants - clean cut when pruning is less likely to let in disease.  Fix loose spade handles and oil them.  You can also wash your gardening gloves.
  2. If you’re storing crops harvested in winter, such as carrots and parsnips, main crop potatoes, squashes, onions, garlic and other root vegetables, inspect your harvest and discard anything that’s beginning to rot as it’ll contaminate the rest of your crop.
  3. Garlic can go into the ground as long as the soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged.  Rhubarb can be divided and bare-root fruit trees and bushes can be planted now, as can raspberries and blackberries.
  4. Cut off old or diseased leaves from Hellebores, to expose the flowers.  Deadhead winter pansies to stop them setting seed.
  5. Continue to prune fruit trees, which are in their dormant period and safe to prune.  Remove dead, diseased and damaged wood, and eliminate any instances of branches crossing and rubbing against each other – remove the weaker one.  Cut at an angle, so that the face of the cut angles downwards, allowing rain to run off it, preventing rotting.
  6. Get your seeds ordered now for any veg and fruit you’re planning to grow.  Ordering from seed catalogues ensures more interesting varieties.
  7. Knock heavy snow off shrubs, as it can snap the branches of many shrubs – especially those with an open crown that the snow can get into.
  8. Take stock of your gardening year, looking through photos pondering any changes you’re going to make in the coming year.
  9. Look after the birds – hang up fat balls, clean feeders and make sure they have access to water.  And look after wildlife by leaving corners of the garden uncut for shelter
  10. If you keep a live Christmas tree outside in a pot, bring it in a few days before the festive period.  Conifers don’t like central heating, so give them plenty of water and keep away from radiators.