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Prepare for a new growing year
Now's a great time to prune currants and gooseberries - especially new bushes or cordons.
Plant bare-root trees and bushes, as long as the soil isn't frozen.
Sow broad beans in pots in mild areas, placing them in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse.
Sow seed indoors for early crops eg: lettuces, summer brassicas (e.g. cabbages and cauliflowers), spinach, salad onions and turnips.
Sow onion seed in a heated propagator.
Prune apples, pears, quinces and medlars.
Prune currants and gooseberries.
Prune autumn raspberries.
Place mice controls near stored vegetables.
Protect early seed sowings from slugs.
Protect brassicas from pigeons.
Look out for grey mould and brassica downy mildew on brassicas.
Remove all remaining plant debris from the vegetable plot. Do not compost any diseased material such as blight-infected potatoes, onions suffering from white rot and any crops with rust. Burn or bin the diseased material.
Spray against peach leaf curl.
Check apples for canker and prune out.
Keep checking stored fruits and remove rotten ones.
Ensure tree stakes and ties are firm and sound.
Harvest citrus fruits once mature.
Lower indoor grapevine stems for even bud-break.
Apply winter washes to fruit trees and bushes.
Apply a top dressing of sulphate of potash to all fruits and nuts.
Stake or earth up Brussels sprouts stalks that look leggy and vulnerable to wind rock. Pick the biggest sprouts from low down the stalks first.
Force chicory to produce plump leafy heads.
Cultivate and prepare seed beds covering them with clear polythene, cloches or fleece to warm up the soil before sowing.
If the weather is reliably dry and frosty, leave heavy soils exposed - the frosts will kill pests and improve soil structure by the continual freezing and thawing of soil water.
Improve drainage of heavy soils by working in lots of organic matter. Grit will only be effective when used in conjunction with organic matter.
When gardening on wet soils work from a plank of wood, rather than treading on the bed, to avoid compacting the soil.
Save egg boxes as they will come in handy for potato chitting next month. Source your seed potatoes if you have not already done so.
Plan a rotation system for vegetable plots to ensure the same crops are not grown in the same beds year after year to help prevent disease build-up.
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