With winter upon us and the Beechgrove Garden off our screens for another year, it’s easy for even the most enthusiastic Scottish gardener to get a bit downbeat at this time of year. Myself included!
But fear not! There’s plenty to be getting on with, and as long as we invest in some good quality socks, welly boots, gloves and a warm jacket, we can enjoy pottering in the garden all winter through.
Over the next few months, I’m going to use this blog to keep you up to speed on the top gardening jobs to be getting on with, from dividing herbaceous perennials to creating new raised beds to grow your veggies. Please follow my blog for the latest updates.
Personally, I find it important to have a combination of proactive and reactive jobs to do in the allotment and in the garden. The reactive jobs, such as clearing fallen leaves, are essential for good maintenance and plants health, whereas the proactive jobs, like planting bulbs and dividing perennials, are the fun part that give you a new focus.
Here’s some top jobs to be getting on with this week:
Proactive (fun) jobs
- Plant a new tree, such as an apple or pear. It will establish firm roots over winter to get it off to the best possible start. Here’s a wide selection from Scottish Heritage Fruit Trees – a local Glasgow supplier
- Divide herbaceous perennials – as well as keeping your existing plants healthy, it will also give you lots of new plants to use in the garden, or give away to friends. Visit the East Neuk Perennials website for some top tips on how to divide your perennials now
- Plant out your spring flowering bulbs to ensure glorious colour next year. Tulips can wait until November to minimise chance of rotting.
- Lift and dry tubers for storage next year. Keep out of reach of prying squirrels.
Reactive (boring but necessary) jobs
- Clear fallen leaves and collect them in a leaf mould bin. It will take a year or so for them to rot down before you can use them as organic compost, but it is worth collecting them now for use next year.
- Prune summer flowering roses so they will flower again early next year.
- Cut back any perennials that are drooping or won’t provide winter interest, such as verbena.
Jobs for the allotment/vegetable garden:
- Plant your autumn onion sets to ensure you get early crop next spring
- Earth up your Brussel sprouts to stop them blowing over in the wind. Hopefully by now they’ll be getting heavy with little sprouts which will be ready for the Christmas dinner table
- Harvest the last of your runner beans and remove the plants from the ground. Either leave to rot down in the beds (an excellent source of nitrogen for the soil) or, if you’re like me and prefer a tidy bed then compost them
- Plant green manure in any empty areas – your local garden centre should have a good collection
- Cover spring cabbages and other overwintering veg with horticultural fleece to stop the pigeons from eating them
Most importantly, don’t get down beat. If it’s raining, or if the ground is too solid to garden, take the time to read a gardening book, flick through seed magazines for next year, or try a distance learning course. I’m doing the RHS Level 2 through the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh – reading the course notes is a perfect way to whittle away a dark evening.