Although the days are short and the view from our Garden Centre is frosty and overcast, Andy Taylor suggests various jobs that can be done in the garden during the month of January.
This is my guide on how to prepare your garden for the winter it's about to endure, I'll go over basic measures you can take to prevent any future problems from the dip in temperature.
Keep any plants that aren't fully hardy safe from frost damage by using frost protection fleece which is lightweight, strong and easy to cut, it also protects against birds and insects.
Bubble Insulation comes in rolls and can be fixed inside both aluminium and wooden greenhouses to keep heating costs at a reasonable level. Parafin heaters from Parasene will heat both greenhouses and cold frames, and there are also Botanico thermostatically controlled greenhouse heaters.
If we do have a snow this winter, a large snow shovel from Bosmere or a telescopic version from Yeoman will be invaluable. They will also prove their worth during the summer and autumn for moving leaves, so an all round sensible purchase.
To help you stay upright are shoe grippers. These lightweight studded attachments for the bottom of your shoes are the type of simple yet effective invention that you wish you'd have thought of first and presented on Dragons' Den.
They probably won't be needed if you have treated your path using a Bosmere Winter Salt Spreader, an excellent device that holds 5kg of de-icing salt. There is also the Winter Wizard Salt Stick. Slim and easy to use, all you do is twist it and one stick will cover 40 square metres with salt that can be bought separately.
All of these items can be found in our winter gardening shop.
Bird feeders range from nut dispensers to elaborate feeding stations. Many are squirrel proof, some discourage larger birds such as pigeons and others are designed for different types of seed and food.
Look out for seed mixes that are marketed for specific species such as robins, finches or tits or buy certain seeds, perhaps thistle to attract goldfinches and chaffinches. Suet and fat balls are excellent food sources for the long winter months and these can come with added cereals and seeds to provide a very effective energy boost.
A pond heater is a good way to keep it from freezing over fully, you might choose one with a thermostat to keep costs down or use an aeration unit (also known as an air pump) as an alternative. To keep an eye on whether the temperature dips below zero, a min/max garden thermometer or a pond thermometer will be useful. The most sophisticated will transmit the water temperature to a receiver inside the house.
Even if you aren't a boy scout, it really will pay to be prepared this winter with any of these quality products.
In order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our wildlife, there's a selection of habitats and boxes you can purchase that are specifically designed to attract various small animals and insects to your garden. Here we look at some of the products available which also make unusual and very engaging gifts.
With warmer weather and an early Easter, the garden centre is busy at the moment with customers stocking up on summer bedding plants - snapdragons, cornflowers, cosmos, verbena, phlox, petunia, As well as filling planters, hanging baskets and borders with colour that will last all summer, there are always plenty of jobs to do in the garden during April and David Coton has these suggestions.
Every gardener must have noticed a decline in the bee population over recent years. Intensive farming that demands the use of toxic chemicals, climate change and parasite infestation have all been put forward as potential causes, it's a worrying trend but one that we can all help to reverse.
As an excellent alternative to conventional products, Trimetals' storage solutions blend top quality manufacture with contemporary style. Their range has now been extended to include two new maintenance free sheds and Robert Hall has all the details.