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Winter Gardening: How to look after you garden when it’s cold
As the temperature in the UK begins to drop at the end of the year, and brings more rain, cloud, and potentially snow, it’s important to keep taking care of your garden. While there may be less plants and crops growing during the winter, there are still plenty of jobs to do to get your garden ready to bloom in spring.
Looking out for wildlife
There are lots of things you can do during winter to help out wildlife and attract birds and bees to your garden. Get your hands on some bird houses, or even build your own, to give birds some extra shelter. Put out feeders across your garden as well, to keep them warm during winter, birds need food which will help them maintain their fat reserves, so fill your feeders with peanuts, sunflower seeds and suet.
Hedgehogs, especially young ones, are at risk during winter. Help them through hibernation by making a leaf pile or making a hedgehog house. If winters are mild, hedgehogs may think it’s spring and disrupt their hibernation. They can end up wasting their fat reserves by looking for food, so to help them build it back up, leave out a bowl of dog or cat food.
There are lots of plants that benefit most when they are pruned in winter. As many plants are dormant, pruning can help them get prepared for growth and production in the spring, and making sure they won’t outgrow their space. Pruning during winter can also help prevent or control the spread of disease. Not every plant benefits from pruning in winter, but ones that do include:
– Fruit bushes
– Apple and pear trees
Keep an eye out for Snowdrops
As implied by their name, Snowdrops are strong, hardy flowers that grow throughout winter, primarily January and February. Snowdrops often grow under trees, as leaf mould provides loads of nutrients to them. If you see them growing in large clumps, if you want, you can spread them around your garden. Carefully dig up the clump and prize it apart with your hands into smaller chunks. Discard any diseased or dead bulbs, and then re-plant each new group six inches apart. Over time you’ll end up with a beautiful carpet of white flowers every spring.
While many may be dormant, there are still a whole variety of crops that you can harvest during the winter months. Parsnips, kale, Brussels sprouts, leeks, winter cabbages and winter salad. If you didn’t get around to planting winter veg and salad earlier in the year, you can grow pulses indoors, as well as microgreens, ready in just a few days.
Gardening isn’t limited to when the sun is out, it is an all-year-round activity for you to enjoy. Make a hot drink, wrap up warm, and get out in your garden this winter!