Gardening In Early Winter – The onset of winter inevitably means fewer jobs to do in the garden, but it is a good idea to get outdoors whenever is favorable. There is always tidying-up to be done, and jobs like broken fences to be mended. It makes sense to get work like this finished before the more severe winter weather makes them less appealing. This is an especially good time to take a critical look at how you can improve your soil in time for the next growing season.
Heavy clay soil needs breaking up with horticultural sand and grit and mushroom compost. Fork it in, and smash down thick lumps of soil with the back of a spade, breaking them into pieces.
Conversely, poor, thin soil, especially over chalk, will need improving with well-rotted manure. This is demanding work, best done whenever you have time in winter.
For your flower garden, early winter garden tasks include: testing your soil, keeping weeding when shoots appear, checking bulbs, corms and tubers in store, disposing of garden refuse by burning or composting where possible, planting bare-root and balled trees and shrubs, protecting vulnerable plants that will remain in the garden, taking hardwood shrub cuttings, planting hedges, installing a pond heater if you live in a cold area where thick ice is a problem, removing leaves that have fallen on rock plants and protecting flowers of winter plants that might be spoilt by the weather, and of course, provide food for birds in your winter garden.
In the greenhouse and conservatory once a week check all plants and pick off any dead or dying leaves before they start to rot. Ventilate your greenhouse on warm days, especially if the greenhouse is well insulated – poor air circulation can encourage diseases. Except for winter-flowering plants that are still in strong, active growth, gradually give plants less water. most will then tolerate low temperatures better and diseases should be less of a problem. Buy new pots to replace any that were broken last summer.