Whether it's a bleak December or the more mild weather we are becoming used to, you can still spend useful time in the garden. David Coton suggests the jobs that can occupy the shortening days.
Should you break the ice on your pond? Dan Everton, Garden Site's aquatics expert, is asked this question by customers when they come to the Garden Centre during the winter.
Your pond is likely to freeze over during any prolonged cold weather we experience during the winter. This leads to many of our garden centre customers wondering whether the presence of ice is a danger to their fish.
For many years I believed that it was to the benefit of the pond and its inhabitants to ensure that there was a hole in the ice.
But according to the charity Freshwater Habitats Trust. breaking the ice has little effect on the amount of oxygen contained in the water. This is because oxygen diffuses into the water so slowly, about 32mm per day, and therefore a hole makes little difference.
The Trust's aim is to protect the nation's freshwater sites so that they can be enjoyed by everyone, In the future they want to see sustainable populations of all freshwater plants and animals, and this is to be achieved through conservation, community action, research and policy work.
They think that oxygen levels may actually rise under a sheet of ice. The reasoning for this is that plants still produce oxygen through photosynthesis, this is then trapped and levels rise. This is of course dependent on there being no snow on top of the ice blocking out sunlight.
So the jury is probably still out although any snow should be brushed off and I would still recommend introducing oxygen if there are fish in the pond especially if the bottom of the pond has decaying matter such as leaves that produce noxious gases.
However, prevention is better than cure and there is a large selection of ice prevention products on GardenSite that work through heating the water or introducing oxygen. The latter can also be useful in the summer months when hot weather will drain oxygen from the water.
The answer to the question I am continually asked is therefore not as simple as it might seem. It's practically impossible to avoid leaves drifting to the bottom of a pond so I would say that it's probably best to err on the side of caution especially if you are a fishkeeper.
There's no doubt that television provides gardeners with inspiration, tips and good ideas, that's why we're all looking forward to new programmes and the return of old favourites during 2018.
Although gardening activity in February may not be so frenetic as during the summer months, there's still plenty to be done and here at the Garden Centre we are already receiving new stock in readiness for spring which is just around the corner. David Coton suggests the jobs you should be tackling in the garden this month.
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.
Showcasing young musical talent, this year's Winter Concert at Arthur Terry School was an outstanding success and took place against the stunning backdrop of a Christmas Tree donated by GardenSite.