At this time of year every thing is pretty dormant in the garden, so it’s a great time to really have a look at the bones of your garden and work on making it a good environment for wildlife, hence promoting biodiversity. This is really important if you are going to garden organically.
I have always bought the Guardian on Saturdays and for years enjoyed Christopher Lloyd’s articles on gardening. I was sad when he died and still miss reading his writings. Alys Fowler has replaced him and I love her enthusiasm and promotion of permaculture and wildlife. Below I will give you some links to a couple of relevant articles written by her.
part one: how to promote biodiversity in your garden
build a small pond – to encourage frogs and toads. This can be as simple as having a bucket or bath. Look at Alys Fowlers article on wildlife ponds for more information. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/dec/14/alys-fowler-wildlife-ponds
encourage birds – create a bird table or hang fat balls full of seeds and nuts to lure birds into your garden. informationhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/series/alys-fowler-s-gardening-column+environment/wildlife
wild areas – create some wild areas in your garden. A few of logs left to rot, for instance, will encourage all sorts of insects, small mammals and amphibians.
plant climbers along walls and borders of garden which will provide ideal nesting habitats.
Part two: January jobs in the garden
clear fallen leaves and debris from areas where bulbs are coming up.
cut back last year’s growth on perennials, leaving any with seed heads still intact for birds and insects. Some people cut everything to the ground in the autumn and like everything neat, tidy and manicured. Personally I like to leave the dead growth up for as long as possible. A lot of seed heads are really pretty and are also a perfect habitat and provide shelter for insects during the winter. Some growth looks awful and rots down into a nasty slimy pile like hemerocallis (day lilies) and agapanthus for example. This can go!
dig out perennial weeds such as dock, couch grass, brambles, buttercups and the like.
thin out dead and diseased wood from established trees and shrubs.
prune wisteria by cutting back shoots to 2nd or 3rd buds.
in the veg garden
Don’t be discouraged if you had a terrible year trying to grow vegetables last year. It was awful for everyone, amateurs and professionals alike. We cannot give up, we need to soldier on and adapt to the situation. Who knows what the weather will do this year, but I am ever hopeful for a better season ahead.
plan your rotation for the year – the allium and brassica family are the ones to rotate. Alliums include onions, shallots and leeks and brassicas include cabbage, kale, cauliflowers, rocket and mustards. You should rotate these crops by giving a three year break before planting in the same area. This helps to reduce problems with onion rot in the allium family and club root in the brassica family.
weed beds ready for onions and shallots – choose an area that is well drained and preferably was manured last autumn. Onion sets are now available to buy and can be planted from now on although some people like to wait for a month or so.
sow broad beans for an early crop.
prune apple and pear trees.
order seeds or plants – look at what we are offering in our veg, flower and herb boxes to grow this year. These kits are a fabulous way to get into gardening and grow your own veg, flowers and herbs. They come with plants, seedlings, seeds, full instructions and plenty of advice on how to grow your own produce.
If you have any further questions or want advice on gardening feel free to comment or email [email protected]/blog and I’ll be happy to help.