Seasonal Gardening Checklist / Garden Calendar

MID-WINTER

  • plan vegetable plot;
  • order seeds;
  • make cabbage root fly mats, bottle cloches, lacewing refuges and bird and bat boxes;
  • wash pots and trays ready for sowing;
  • remove any damaged or diseased branches from trees and shrubs;
  • cut down herbaceous plants after birds have taken seeds;
  • fork over soil where soil pests have been a problem;
  • winter-prune canes of autumn raspberries;
  • cover wall-trained peach trees to prevent peach leaf curl.

LATE WINTER

  • make up sowing and potting mixtures;
  • sow early vegetable crops if you have a heated propagator;
  • put potatoes out to sprout in cool, light, frost-free place;
  • add organic matter to vegetable beds for early spring planting and put out cloches and polythene to warm soil;
  • dig up over-wintering brassicas as soon as you have finished harvesting as they can harbour pests and diseases;
  • check ties on trees.

EARLY SPRING

  • last opportunity to plant bare-rooted trees, fruit bushes and shrubs;
  • best time to plant evergreens last chance to prune apples, pears and soft fruit;
  • sow early vegetable crops in greenhouse and under cloches; only sow outside if the soil is warm enough;
  • sow early peas to miss pea moth;
  • sow half-hardy annuals if you have a heated propagator;
  • plant early potatoes if you can protect tops from late frosts;
  • mulch over-wintering vegetables such as japanese onions with nutrient-rich mulch or top-dress with fish, blood and bone;
  • prepare vegetable beds for summer crops;
  • sow quick-growing green manures on ground that will not be used until mid-summer;
  • protect fruit blossom from frost if possible;
  • prune roses prune shrubs, such as buddleia davidii, that flower on new shoots;
  • cut back shrubby herbs such as lavender, sage and thyme;
  • give lawn an initial cut if weather is mild, but not too closely; do not cut if the weather is wet but wait until the grass is dry.

MID-SPRING

  • sow and plant hardy vegetables outside;
  • protect newly sown vegetables with barriers where necessary; for example, put cabbage root fly mats on brassicas and fleece on early carrots;
  • sow hardy annuals like pot marigolds outside (a good choice of plant because they attract hoverfly);
  • sow tender vegetables such as tomatoes in greenhouse;
  • plant main crop potatoes and onion sets mulch ornamental borders with materials such as leafmould, bark and shreddings when soil is moist;
  • top-dress established plants in pots with worm compost or begin liquid feeding;
  • feed neglected lawns;
  • start cutting lawn in mid-spring and continue regularly until early autumn;
  • check regularly from mid-spring onwards for fruit pests, diseases and other problems, in particular, canker, aphids, winter moths and tortrix moths;
  • inspect gooseberries and currants for sawfly and eggs from mid-spring.

LATE SPRING

  • continue sowing vegetables outdoors and plant out early crops sown inside;
  • keep early-sown crops well weeded;
  • mulch top and soft fruit with hay or straw;
  • watch for aphids but do not spray unless damage is severe; predator numbers should be building up by now;
  • look for first signs of greenhouse whitefly and order biological control;
  • hang codling moth traps in apple and pear trees from late spring onwards until the end of late summer;
  • remove covers from wall-trained peaches;
  • remove tied-on grease bands;
  • apply shade paint to greenhouse roof and/or walls or fix blinds.

EARLY SUMMER

  1. continue sowing and planting vegetables;
  2. sow main crop carrots in early summer to miss first generation of carrot fly;
  3. sow peas late to miss pea moth;
  4. plant out tender crops after the last frost;
  5. prune plums and cherries now until end of late summer to avoid silver leaf disease;
  6. net fruit bushes, raspberries and main crop strawberries; thin plums, pears and apples;
  7. look out for cabbage caterpillars or eggs until early autumn;
  8. water plants as needed until early autumn, especially those that are newly planted.

MID-SUMMER

  • cut spring wild-flower meadows; move hay;
  • cover flowering peas with mesh to protect against pea moth;
  • summer-prune red and white currants and gooseberries to keep bush open and help control disease;
  • collect immature fallen fruitlets from apples and pears.

LATE SUMMER

  • start sowing overwintering green manures;
  • sow winter salad crops such as endive and overwintering vegetables like spring cabbage;
  • lift onions and dry thoroughly before storing to avoid storage diseases;
  • prune out old raspberry canes after fruiting;
  • cut off strawberry leaves after harvest;
  • plant new strawberries if needed;
  • cut hedges after birds have finished nesting;
  • remove and compost early-fallen apples or pears in case they contain pests;
  • summer-prune cordons, espaliers, fans and other restricted forms of apples and pears.

EARLY AUTUMN

  • sow overwintering green manures;
  • sow new wild-flower meadows;
  • sow hardy annual attractants to overwinter and flower early;
  • harvest potatoes early on heavy soils to avoid slug damage;
  • prune out old canes of hybrid berries;
  • take nets off fruit after harvesting to allow birds to get at overwintering pests;
  • cover ponds with netting to keep leaves out;
  • remove greenhouse shading.

MID-AUTUMN

  • last chance to sow grazing rye;
  • cover root crops with straw to protect from frost damage and lift and store those that are not frost hardy;
  • dig a compost trench on next year’s runner bean bed;
  • insulate worm bins;
  • cut summer wild-flower meadows and then remove hay;
  • clean out greenhouse thoroughly;
  • top-dress neglected lawns;
  • trim back flowerheads of shrubby herbs and herbaceous plants after birds have eaten seeds;
  • prune blackcurrant bushes any time from mid- to late autumn;
  • prune out old canes of blackberries;
  • apply greasebands to apple, pear and plum trees and to the stakes;
  • lift, divide and replant herbaceous plants any time from now until early spring if soil conditions permit;
  • collect up fallen leaves from apple and pear trees to help control scab;
  • collect leaves from lawns and paths to make leafmould; this will also prevent them from rotting on the ground.

LATE AUTUMN

  • fork-over seed beds on clay soils and leave to weather over winter;
  • mulch roses after leaf fall to help prevent reinfection with blackspot;
  • prune red and white currant bushes and gooseberries any time from leaf-fall until early spring;
  • harvest remaining apples and pears before severe frosts occur.

EARLY WINTER

  • check for hibernating hedgehogs before having bonfires;
  • best time to plant any new trees, fruit bushes, shrubs and hedges;
  • remove any mummified fruit from tree to help prevent spread of disease;
  • prune apple and pear trees, gooseberry bushes and red and white currants anytime from now until early spring;
  • check greasebands remain sticky through winter until mid-spring;
  • feed wild birds from now until spring.

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