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Gardening with Anne McKeon

Now the Christmas tree and decorations will soon be taken down and put away and the New Year’s celebrations are almost behind you, you are no doubt ready to start gardening again. Are you feeling motivated? I do hope so because there is much to be done.

An important job this season would be to cover your ornamental cherry trees with netting as you will find that birds tend to peck at the buds. The trees most prone to bird damage would be your fruit trees and, as I have already mentioned, your ornamental cherries. If covering your trees with netting proves to be too difficult, there are repellent sprays available and these can be used instead.

Have you pruned your fruit trees and bushes? I must admit that I have been good at handing out the advice but slow to follow it myself and so have not yet pruned my fruits.

Remove old wood from blackcurrants as they fruit on new wood. By the way, if planting new blackcurrant bushes, I find the variety Wellington XXX to be very successful. Remove newer wood from gooseberries as they tend to fruit best on two year old wood or older. A particular gooseberry favourite of mine is Carless. Raspberry canes should be tied in to support wires with older canes being pruned back to within 9” of the ground.

Things in the vegetable garden should be at their quietest this month. It is always good to add seaweed, rotted manure, or compost to your soil and this is an ideal time to carry out this work. Aside from doing good digging is also a great form of exercise and a way to work off some of that Christmas pudding that you consumed recently.

Spend some time planning out your vegetable plot for the coming season. By that I mean, decide on the veg you want to grow and where you want to grow it. It is vital that you rotate your crops to avoid diseases and pests while at the same time making use of all of the nutrients in the soil.

Maybe the idea of going outdoors in January to dig and to prune and so on is not very appealing. Well okay then, how would you feel about a little worthwhile armchair gardening? Hopefully you were lucky enough to receive book vouchers in your Christmas stocking. If so why not exchange them for some gardening books or gardening videos? Study the pictures and indulge yourself in dreams of colourful borders, paved walkways, and tea on the patio (or even stronger liquid lunches outdoors, if that is your desire ). Planning your garden for the coming year is an essential task and one that you will find pays great dividends.

I hope that one of your New Year’s resolutions is to take up gardening as a hobby. I am looking forward to spending time with you, gardening behind the garden gate in 2008. Feel free to contact me with your garden queries and suggestions for this column and I will do my best to be of help to you.

Happy gardening and Happy New Year!




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