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.
Tennis isn't everyone's cup of tea especially when for a fortnight it's impossible to get away from the sound of ball on racquet. However, one delicious advantageous of Wimbledon fully appreciated by Martyn Loach is strawberries and cream.
You don't have to go to south west London for a punnet, they are an easy crop to grow and can be eaten immediately or used to make jam to spread on your toast when summer is just a memory.
Summer fruiting varieties crop from June until late in July. 'Darlisette' and 'Sallybright' are tasty earlies together with 'Rosie' which has an impressive yield; 'Sonata' is a bit later with 'Amelia' that tastes great but can crop poorly, 'Elsanta' is a reliable cropper with good flavour. Of the late strawberries, the juicy dark red 'Malwina' might be a winner.
Very suitable for our climate especially especially if you have slightly acid soil, strawberries enjoy a sunny position in moisture retentive soil that is rich in organic matter and has good drainage. Buy several varieties to spread the harvest over maximum period of time and plant in the late summer about 2ft apart in rows that have 18ins between them, watering thoroughly.
The crown of each plant should be at the same level of the soil, and planting through black plastic suppresses weeds and helps with water retention. When flowers appear, feed with tomato fertilizer and keep well watered.
Early cropping can be encouraged by covering the plants with a cloche and, to protect the fruit against slugs, birds and other damage, mulch underneath each plant with straw and cover with netting.
Propagate new plants by pinning runners from the main plant into a compost filled pot. After cropping, use shears to cut the plants to within 1in of the crown and remove any runners that aren't required..
Plants generally crop well for about three years, then buy new ones or use the plants that have been propagated, but move to a new location to prevent the spread of disease.
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.
It was quite an honour for GardenSite to be asked to supply the Christmas Tree to Birmingham New Street Station this year, and to celebrate we're offering a Champagne High Tea to the winners of a seasonal selfie competition.
With Storm Caroline reeking havoc many people are likely to be contacting their insurance companies at some time regarding damage caused to sheds, greenhouses, fences and other garden property. Robert Hall explains how GardenSite.co.uk can help with an independent insurance quote and claim.