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Winter 2009
 
John Cushnie On...
 

Festive Season Jobs.
4 December 2008

Not so long ago work finished early on Christmas Eve and we were back after Boxing Day. Nowadays lots of people use some of their annual leave to extend the break from work and take in the New Year holiday. Large firms close for a fortnight.

Once the hectic run up to the big day is over and everyone is “playing” with their presents there is time to do some gardening and often, weather-wise, it is a calm, settled period.

LawnIf at all possible cut the lawn. Even a light topping will tidy it up preventing the grass becoming so long that, when wet, it is difficult to cut.

Check plants with supporting stakes. Ties may be cutting into the bark causing damage. Loosen them and where they are no longer needed remove the stake completely. This is a good chance to apply fertilizer close to the roots so back fill the hole left when removing the support with multi-purpose compost mixed with bone meal fertilizer.


If the weather is kind and the soil is not wet and sticky plant bare root plants such as bush roses and hedging. Prepare a good sized planting pit and loosen up the base. Add a handful of bone meal for each plant and backfill with topsoil. Firm with your feet to prevent the wind blowing the plants out of the ground.

man raking soilDig the vegetable garden leaving the soil in lumps to be broken up by frost and rain.

To prevent birds such as tits and finches destroying the fruit buds all fruit trees should be netted. Make sure there are no holes where birds can get in but are then trapped.

If the soil is in good condition then make a start on dividing the herbaceous perennials. Some such as agapanthus and hostas come into growth early and if they can be lifted and divided before the shoots appear there will be less damage.

MulchWhile there is no rush to mulch it should always be applied to moist ground so if there is time make a start now. Bark will be satisfactory for the ornamental beds but fruit trees, bushes and raspberry canes will enjoy a deep mulch of old, well rotted farmyard manure.

Don’t forget, if you are having a bonfire throw in the turkey bones. The ash will be high in potash fertilizer. Sweet pea plants love a moisture retentive soil so the wrapping paper from the presents may be shredded and placed in the bottom of the sweet pea trench ready for a spring planting.

 

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