30 Dec Investing in the season ahead
It’s often thought that there is not much to do in Winter in the garden and I think it has more to do with the weather having an impact on our motivation to get out in the garden and add some value at this dull and gloomy stage of the gardening calendar.
I consider Winter as a bit of a catch up period where much can be done in preparation for the season ahead…investing in the season ahead.
Two very important tasks that can be done to maximise results for next season is:
In one of my previous posts I make reference to ‘beneficial pruning’, as the pruning done, can encourage better growth, shape and if done at the correct time, maximise flowering. Not all shrubs and small trees need pruning now, so it is important to research the correct pruning time before getting the loppers, pruning saw and secateurs out.
Ones which take centre stage in Winter are apple and pear fruit trees. I’m not going to go into infinite detail, but rather share the basic approach to pruning younger and small apple and pear trees:
1. Firstly, stand back and look at the overall shape and cut any branches that need to be removed to enhance the overall shape. You’re aiming for a good goblet shape.
2. Look for young ‘whippy’ branches which are growing vigourously from the previous years larger cuts and remove most, leaving only the new shoots if they are growing in a particular direction that you would like to encourage.
3. Using the triple ‘D’ method, remove the dead, diseased and damaged branches first.
4. Look for branches growing in a downwards directions and remove.
5. Look for areas of congestion (particularly in the centre of the tree) and, for example, where there are three branches close together, remove the middle one – this creates better air flow between branches.
There is just one more thing to consider when shaping or deciding where to make your cuts on each branch. If the previous years cut was above an outward facing bud, then this year’s cut should be above an inward facing bud. This encourages the goblet shape you are trying to achieve.
The next gardening chore to strongly encourage in the Winter period has beneficial impact on soil structure, plant growth and enhances good soil aeration and fertility due to increased worm activity.
Manuring – adding organic matter
This is how we do it…
1. Clear any weed or invasive growth, if any.
2. Cut back any hardy perennials, if required.
3. If there is leaf drop you would like to clear away, then do so, but do keep in mind that good leaf mould can be made from that and then re-used in your garden at a later date.
4. The soil could be cultivated to encourage the manure to blend in with the soil, but this is not essential.
5. Spread a layer of manure on the soil surface. A fairly thick layer of approximately 5-6cm for best results.
The manure layer is rich in organic matter encouraging the worms to travel to the soil surface to feed off the matter and in exchange leaving worm casts which enriched the soil.
All gardeners always want what’s best for the garden and by focusing on these two important Winter tasks, you are investing in the season ahead.
Happy gardening and try to stay dry…