Now that the sun is shining and yes, the weather is quite mild at the moment, you may be thinking of getting out into the garden to ready it for the spring. The main problem in most gardens at the moment is that the ground is sodden but the grass is growing well with the mild conditions so they look untidy. Some of the jobs will require a greenhouse or propagator but for others, it’s a case of wrapping up warm to give your garden a kickstart for the year.
Yes, there were plenty of sightings of daffodils in bloom in December as the weather was so mild and the bulbs were confused! Our own snowdrops are coming into bloom and I can see the shoots of the crocuses and daffodils. If your snowdrops are forming dense clumps and you’d like to move some to another area, wait until they have finished flowering and are ‘in the green’ before doing so.
If you have a heated propagator, you can sow seeds for flowers such as geraniums, lobelia and bedding begonias. Don’t go too mad sowing seeds for another week or two though as if the light is poor, they will grow too leggy.
If you have ornamental grasses, you can clip them right back now. They often tend to start looking a bit straggly at this time of the year so it will really tidy them up. It’s quite a satisfying job too!
If you’d love some roses in the garden for the summer, plant them now (bare root roses) in a sunny position for vivid colour later on.
Trees and Shrubs
As long as the ground isn’t waterlogged or frozen, you can move deciduous trees and shrubs so that’s one job out of the way if conditions are right.
In terms of pruning, you can prune the sideshoots of wisteria now to two or three buds. You can prune overwintered fuchsias back to two buds per shoot too. If you have ivy or virginia creeper, these can be cut back now too.
Your lawn might be looking quite untidy as grass kept growing with the mild weather but the ground may be too sodden to get out here and mow it. The sun is shining today so it could be a job to earmark for next week if it stays dry.
If the lawn is mossy, you could spread sulphate of iron on a non-windy dry day.
Fruit and Vegetable Garden
You can prune some fruit trees now (pear and apple) while they are dormant. However, leave plum and cherry trees until the summer.
Prune your raspberries now if you haven’t done them yet. Autumn varieties can be done as late as February. Only prune back the stems that have fruited (not the new stems that haven’t fruited yet). Raspberries are an easy fruit to grow – as long as they have some shelter and supports. You can plant them up to March, adding some matured farmyard manure if you have some to give them a good start.
Rhubarb is a firm favourite in Ireland and although it needs a little tender loving care, it’s a easy fruit to grow and harvest. You can plant it in early spring (preferably in well drained soil) leaving about three feet between plants and ensuring the crown bud is about 2 inches below the top soil. If you already have rhubarb, now is the time to provide them with composted manure if you haven’t done so already.
Seed potatoes for early varieties can be put into a warm place to start them off, this can mean you’re harvesting the rewards three weeks earlier than normal.
Dig over your vegetable ground if it isn’t frozen and if you’ve been planning on creating some raised beds, you can prepare them now.
If building a compost bin has been on your to-do list for a while, now is the time to do it, particularly if you have pallets to hand. Build two, side by side, so that when one is rotting down, you can add to the other one. You can, of course, purchase compost bins from garden centres too.
What can you add to your compost bin? Well, you can add most fruit and vegetable peelings or scraps, tea leaves, crushed eggshells, ash from the stove (but only ash from wood), newspapers (not magazines with glossy pages and coloured inks), grass clippings (but if they are wet mix them with dried materials such as leaves or newspapers and don’t add too much in one go) and cardboard.
It can take up to a year for the materials in a compost bin to break down although you can speed it up by shredding everything that you put in. Yet, a year isn’t that long to wait, if you start now, you’ll have wonderful compost in a year’s time.
If the weather should turn wet or too cold and you’re itching to get started, you can still do so but from the comfort of the kitchen table. Look through catalogues to decide what seeds you would like to buy (although it is very easy to get carried away so be careful). Create a gardening diary to help you plan what you are going to plan when and where, this is particularly important for your vegetable garden to ensure good crop rotation.
Enjoy! Remember that whether you need a helping hand, some professional hands-on advice or a person to call weekly or fortnightly to help you maintain your garden, remember you can post a job up on our Tradesmen.ie website and get up to four quotes from rated gardeners in your area!