Time to tidy up

Posted on: 16th January, 2014

Category: Home, Garden & Environment

Contributor: West Cork People

by John Hosford 086-4426450 www.facebook.com/TheWeekEndGardenCentre

January may have short days but there is always plenty to do in the garden and greenhouse. At this time of year — particularly after this year’s stormy weather conditions — greenhouses should be checked for broken glass and replaced. In the case of polythene tunnels, tears should be repaired with repair tape. Repair tape is available at the Agricultural Dept., Bandon Medical Hall, 5-6 Bridge St, Bandon.

Keeping houseplants in good sunlight is very important now. Also ensure that they are kept frost-free and water sparingly, preferably using lukewarm water early in the day. Don’t use stale or stagnant water.

Indoor forced bulbs, such as Hyacinths or Narcissi that have finished flowering, may be removed outdoors to die back. A temperature of 5 degrees C should be maintained for Pelargoniums, Geraniums and Fuchsias. Remove withered or dead leaves. Cyclamen appreciate a cool but draught free place. Water from the base from a saucer.

Allow 10-20 minutes for the plant to absorb what it requires, but don’t sit it constantly in a saucer or dish of water. Avoid water getting onto the leaves of the Cyclamen. Indoor Azaleas prefer a cool, bright position. Water with rainwater in preference to tap water. Don’t allow to dry out.

Check that greenhouse heaters are working properly. Put in a maximum-minimum thermometer in place to ensure correct monitoring of temperatures. Secure insulation in place. Keep a watchful eye for any pest activity and control as soon as detected. Ventilate the greenhouse on calm, mild, sunny days, closing up again before the temperature drops later in the afternoon. Clean pots, trays and propagators ready for spring activity.

Tidying up perennials and borders: Old leaves of Helleborus should be removed. The old leaves should be cut down to ground level using sharp secateurs to cut down. Grasses and perennials retained for winter interest may be now cut down to ground level.

Trees and shrubs: Continue planting of trees and shrubs when weather and soil conditions permit. Move established trees and shrubs this month if water logging or frost isn’t present.Take note in public gardens or garden centres — those trees or shrubs, which provide valuable winter flower, bark, berry or foliage interest at this time of year. Check trees and ties on established trees or shrubs — replace or secure as necessary. Firm back newly planted trees or shrubs that have been lifted by frost or strong winds. Remove weeds from around the base of young trees, hedging and shrubs.

Apple and pear pruning: Continue with the winter pruning of apples and pears while conditions permit during the month. While you are pruning your apples and pears, take the opportunity to examine closely for any canker infection. If present, clean up the infection with a wire brush. After cleaning, paint with Medo. Currants and gooseberries may be pruned this month. Once pruning has been completed, spray with a winter wash. This should be completed as soon as possible. Feed apples and pears in late January with an application of sulphate of potash.

Sweet Pea: Sow Sweet Pea indoors during January. Choose a thermostatically controlled propagator or a consistently warm room or greenhouse. Sweet Pea is great value in the garden, flowering over a long period and providing an abundance of colourful and fragrant flowers from early summer until well into the autumn.

Vegetable Garden: Continue digging the vegetable garden in preparation for this year’s crops. Dig in well-composted farmyard or stable manure. In the absence of manure or your own well-decomposed compost, the excellent and highly recommended GEE-UP (produced in Cork) is a very worthy alternative. Add lime if your plot is deficient in lime. Lime is especially beneficial to all members of the brassica or cabbage family. Keeping the lime levels at the correct levels will help to reduce the incidence of club root disease. Do remember to practice good rotation and get your soil tested. Soil test kits are available at good garden centres.



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