The months are already sliding by; spring and Easter are really just around the corner. There’s much to do, so lets get started.

Prepare veg seed beds and sow veg under cover. Celariac and leeks grow slowly so an early sowing will ensure a good crop.

Chit potatoes by standing them on end in an egg box in a light, frost-free place to encourage shoots to grow. Once planted, the chitting process helps the plants to establish more quicky and produce a better yield.

Peach, apricot and nectarines all flower early and the blossom is suseptible to frost, potentially spoiling the crop. To avoid this protect the blossom by covering with horticultural fleece.

Prune winter flowering shrubs, like hamamelis, viburnum and daphne after the flowers have finished.

Prune wisteria in February back to 2 or 3 buds to tidy up the structure of the plant and promote flowering. In the summer prune the whippy shoots back to 5 or 6 leaves to maintain the framework.

Prune hedges now, to maintain structure and height.

Cut back deciduous grasses now before the new growth begins to emerge at the crown.

Prune cornus hard back to two or three inches above the ground. This will encourage strong, bright new shoots to growth throughout the season and give winter colour come the autumn leaf drop.

Prune summer flowering clematis. For Group 2 (May – July flowering) cut back these large-flowered varieties to the next bud in the summer, then just prune dead growth in February.

For Group 3 (July – Sept flowering) cut back hard in February to the lowest pair of buds on each shoot. This will encourage new growth with lots of flowers, and since this group flowers on the last 2 feet of growth, it will prevent the plant from getting leggy.

Deadhead winter pansies to maintain a bright show of blooms.

Force rhubarb under cloches to get a tender, early harvest. By reducing the light that reaches the plant’s crown, this encourages early growth. In cold regions/ snaps you can also mulch over the cloche with straw to insulate the plant.

Cut autumn fruiting raspberry completely to the ground, since they flower and fruit on new growth. This will encourage a strong plant for the coming season.

And lastly…

During this recent prolonged cold snap, remember to provide water and feed for the garden birds. Check any leaf piles or rubbish heaps you intend to burn as hedgehogs may be hibernating there. Where possible leave areas of dead wood, leaves and natural garden waste as snakes, frogs and toads may all be overwintering there.