Professional Gardener - Weather warning

Watch the weather

All jobs will be determined by your location and the weather this month. While we should gradually see more sunshine, you can still expect hard frosts at night. Western counties may have significant rainfall, while the east can be hit by freezing winds and high ground may remain covered in snow.

Pests

Slugs are getting hungry now and there is a new species to watch out for — it’s a monster, grows up to 15cm long and has been reported to eat dead mammals and even each other. Thought to have arrived in the UK on imported salad leaves, bare-root trees or possibly potted plants, Arion vulgaris is known to eat plants previously not attacked by slugs — notably potato crops, onion tops and broad and runner bean pods, along with oil seed rape.

Greenhouse growing

If you want an early outdoor supply of lettuce, make a small sowing of a cabbage variety in seed boxes. They need about 13°C to germinate and will require hardening off before planting out. Similarly, a sowing of early culinary peas could be made under glass, although if you have a well-sheltered garden in a mild part of the country you could start early sowing outdoors with cloches. Cauliflowers can be helped by providing a long, steady growing season. Start them off in deep seed trays and provide 13-16°C. Sow a few cucumbers in pots if you can provide sufficient heat. Sow broad beans in trays or pots and germinate in a slightly heated greenhouse or in a cold frame where insulation can be provided at night. Take cuttings of decorative and hardy border varieties of chrysanthemums as the opportunity arises. Carnations can also be propagated from cuttings taken now. Begin sowing bedding plants as appropriate. Make sure plug plants have been ordered as needed.

Kitchen garden

Prepare asparagus beds for this year’s cropping by incorporating plenty of organic matter. Broad beans also like a soil with lots of manure and trenches should be prepared accordingly. Shallots and garlic can be planted now. They need a sunny, well-drained bed — ideally one manured for a previous crop, rather than a site where a fresh application of organic matter has recently been made. Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries, cutting them right back to within 15cm of the ground and sprinkle the ground with a high-potash fertiliser.

Ornamental garden

Prune flowering shrubs such as Buddleja davidii, Caryopteris and winter-flowering jasmine. Plant new climbers. Continue to take root cuttings from perennials.

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