From the Nursery

Winter jobs: In poor weather, jobs such as staking and caning of climbers can be carried out under protection.

Make sure that you follow the code of practice when clearing gutters on multi-span tunnels. Choose a grade of fleece with adequate thickness for your frost protection requirements. Cosytex from XL Horticulture performs very well and is worth the cost. Grease up ventilation gear in glasshouses and carry out other structural maintenance jobs that have not been completed from last year.

Choisya liners: Order your choisya liners early - potting them in March gives a much higher survival rate than those potted in May onwards.

Winter wash: This is still a worthwhile operation using Certis Spraying Oil. Include Picea (to control any over-wintering mites), citrus, Hedera and bay. Avoid rain and frost for 24 hours before and after application and young soft growth.

Azalea gall: Watch for this disease during January. Spray with a tank mix of Croptex Fungex and Serenade ASO (SOLA 2009-0246) if seen.

Herbicides: Use the Horticultural Development Company Weed Control Handbook to plan a herbicide programme. Remember that it is more than 30 times more expensive to hand weed than it is to apply a herbicide to containers.

Ditches: Watch the state of ditches and drains. High winds and rainfall can blow pots and other rubbish into ditches, blocking pipelines under roadways, which can result in flooding.

Root cuttings: Take root cuttings of herbaceous perennials such as poppies and phlox. It is surprising just how small pieces of root will grow in some cases. Even the leftover tails put into a tray of compost will provide new plant material in the spring.

Servicing: Get your water pumps, fertiliser injectors and filters serviced and in good order for the coming season's hard work. Contact your pump supplier now and get them checked over.

Hydrangeas: Consider moving hydrangea under protection. The recent cold weather should have stimulated bud initiation.

Field crops: The last week of January can be dry in some areas, which is an ideal time to make that first nitrogen top dressing to tree crops. Consider slow-release nitrogen products, such as Novatec, that regulate nitrogen flow and reduce run-off risk and water pollution.

John Adlam is managing director at Dove Associates

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