Sweetpeas, what’s not to love? Fabulous colours, wonderful perfume, fast growing, bee-magnets! You can get next year’s plants off to a head start by sowing the seeds now and get even better performing plants if you can keep their roots undisturbed when planting out next year. It is really easy if you use Root Trainers and so one or two seeds per cell. These are designed to produce masses of roots by the process of ‘air pruning’ whilst also channelling root growth downwards, so preventing a tangled mass of roots from forming. When the time comes for planting I just open out the book-like cells to reveal a row of great plants.
Check for firework remains
With the fireworks season upon us, even if you’ve not had them in your garden, its highly likely some may have landed in your plot from a big local display or a neighbour’s garden. Remove any fallen remains of rockets or other fireworks from flowerbeds, borders and, of course, the lawn. Sometimes chemicals leach from these that you do not want in the garden and many firework remains have the potential to do a lot of damage to a lawnmower if you leave them there until the spring!
Wait for a dry spell before dividing herbaceous perennials
If like me you garden on a clay soil (mine’s pretty heavy, which makes it worse!) then the soil in your garden is likely to be extremely wet. So, although this might be a classic time to divide herbaceous perennials, I say wait for a week or two, or at least until the soil has dried out slightly. Recently divided plants are much more likely to rot off, as they have newly exposed, cut surfaces.
Ensure your container plants are adequately protected
Plants in containers are especially prone to winter damage as both their tops and their bottoms are exposed! Wrapping some bubble-wrap polythene (or a wodge of cardboard, or an old towel, around the pot should prevent root damage from freezing. Protect the top growth using one of those clever greenish coloured fleece bags fitted with a drawstring – just pop the plant in the bag and pull the string tight.
Move your house plants to maximise their exposure to daylight
Make sure that you don’t deprive your houseplants of light. As we’ve all noticed now that the clocks have changed , days shorten and light levels fall on a seemingly daily basis. So make sure you move plants into a better lit position such as a south or west facing windowsill where they will receive more light.
Clear dead leaves and debris from gutters
It really is worth regularly clearing guttering and downpipes on sheds, garages etc. If they become clogged with leaves, twigs or other debris, they are likely to become blocked and could cause localised water logging and plant losses, especially for those poor unfortunate plants under the mini waterfall which is often created! The gunge and debris you remove can be popped into the compost heap as chances are that it is already partly composted!
Check your pond for dead or dying plant matter
Continue to check the condition of marginals and other pond plants as, if these are allowed to die back and flop into the water, they are likely to cause problems later on in the year when they start to rot down and produce noxious gasses under the water. Add any trimmings and dead foliage to the compost
Insulate exposed water pipes to prevent freezing and cracking
Don’t delay any further before you put lagging on external water pipes and taps. Although it may still be several weeks before water sources start to freeze up in even the colder gardens, the last thing you want is to be caught unawares. Use hessian, bubble wrap polythene or something similar to create a really snug jacket.